When Animal Crossing: City Folk arrived on the Nintendo Wii back in 2008, it became one of the consoles best selling games with 3.38 million copies sold worldwide. Although the game sold well, many criticized the game for being too similar to its predecessors. It seems Nintendo has taken that criticism to heart because the newest addition to the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is bursting at the seams with content.

For those uninitiated, Animal Crossing is a game series where you assume the role of a young person who has just moved out on their own. The games are open ended, as players can fish, bug hunt, or sell items to fund their furniture collecting and house renovations while making friends with the animal residents who live in your town. The set your own goals game play is addicting, and it’s all there in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

What makes New Leaf different from its predecessors is that this time around you assume the role as Mayor of your town. As Mayor, you now have the ability to build public works projects and to set town ordinances. With public works projects, players can gather funds to build objects in their town (such as bridges and campsites) and even erect new shops or upgrade their town’s museum.  The public works projects let you customize your town in a way you couldn’t before, and it’s incredibly satisfying to save up the funds to build something to make your town a better place.

Ordinances, on the other hand, allow you to change the laws of your town, and they are a very 300px-EarlyBirdOrdinancewelcome addition to the series. Ever wish your town’s shops were open later? Sign the night owl ordinance and they will stay open later. Having difficulty keeping your flowers from wilting? The beautiful town ordinance will make it so animals help water and care for them. Ordinances allow you to customize the way the town is run so that it fits with your style of gaming, and it’s one of the most helpful features in the game.

In addition to these new game play mechanics, players will still continue to collect furniture and 300px-Kappn_3dsexpand their home. The local town museum is bigger than ever, and filling it up with bugs, fossils, paintings, and fish you don’t sell will be a challenge. Visitors to your town, such as the devious black market owner Crazy Redd, or the mysterious fortuneteller Katrina are still present and accounted for this time around. The island from the very first game, now deemed Tortimer island, makes a comeback and players and their friends can compete in mini games to earn medals that can be redeemed for rare furniture and items. With the inclusion of the new wet suit item, players can even venture off shore for the first time, and dive to catch new fish or collect shells.

Graphically, this is easily the best looking game in the series to date. While the colorful art style the new-leaf-picnicseries is known for is still alive and well, the grass and landscape has a textured look to it that keeps the environment from looking flat and dull. The water effects in the game are top notch. You can see how the currents flow in the river as it runs its course, and the 3D effect of the 3ds is best enjoyed while viewing your catches in the museum exhibits.

The controls for the game are simple, and swapping between the control stick and the touch screen to interact with the in-game menus is fluid, and doesn’t have that awkward pause that the Nintendo DS Animal Crossing had.

All in all, Animal Crossing: New Leaf addresses the issue fans had with City Folk.  It provides new game mechanics to keep the game fresh, while still keeping the classic and addictive game play formula we have come to know and love intact. This is easily the best Animal Crossing yet, and the sheer amount of content and player customization will keep you peeled to the game for a long time. Whether you are a long time fan, or are just playing for the first time, you should prepare yourself because you’re going to get addicted, and you’re going to love every second of it.