Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Residents are full of adorable little quotes
Residents are full of adorable little quotes

It’s hard to explain the allure of Animal Crossing to someone who’s never played it without coming off as a bit weird. “Yeah, I dig up fossils and collect things and sell them to make my house pretty?” But the key selling point of Animal Crossing New Leaf is its simplicity. Lots of little activities add up to make a unique and personable game.

Your role in the game is as mayor of your very own town. As mayor you can pick and choose projects to develop for the town, building fountains, lamp posts, fire hydrants and other fixtures wherever you like. This personalisation is a large part of the enjoyment of the game, alongside arranging the town as you choose, you can buy items for your very own house, arranging each room to your choosing, and pick out your own fashion and accessories.

To do a lot of these things in the game require the town’s currency, Bells. This is earned by collecting fruit off trees, fishing, and digging – Animal Crossing encourages complete interaction with your environment. Interacting with the chibified animal villagers in your town will also sometimes get you free gifts – though you should talk to them anyway as they’re full of adorable phrases like “I’ve got a dream to eat rainbow sherbet til I can’t eat any more!” Different villagers leave and move into your town over time, so if there are any you don’t like (a rare occurrence!) you might not have to see them about for too long anyway.

Although a lot of the game centres on finding objects to sell in order to buy things or pay off your house expansions and town works, there are a lot of other features you can enjoy. You can travel to other towns to visit friends, donate fossils to the museum or visit the eternally tropical island and play fun mini games to earn medals and rare items. The Dream Suite feature even lets you visit the towns of people all over the world (provided you have internet access) and have a nosy at how other people have styled their town.

Seeing the Northern Lights on Animal Crossing is almost as cool as seeing them in real life, right?
Seeing the Northern Lights on Animal Crossing is almost as cool as seeing them in real life, right?

One thing I really enjoy about the game is that the weather changes with the seasons. It’s a neat little touch that helps keep the game feeling fresh, you can pootle around in spring blossoms, under autumn leaves or through winter snow. You can also take part in themed events that occur on particular days. These include the obvious celebrations for holidays like Halloween and Christmas to other fun events such as bug catching contests, or fireworks on every Sunday of August. As this game can get a bit repetitive (catch things, sell them, buy things, repeat), these little touches help to keep the game fresh. I’ve been playing it on and off for the past year, so I’d say it has a pretty long lasting appeal as you can dip into it whenever you like.

Take a trip into an adorable world – Animal Crossing: New Leaf is available now for Nintendo 3DS.

Catherine

CatherinePs3Orig

A “multi-platformer horror romance” – Catherine sounds like an interesting game already. Our protagonist is one Vincent Brooks, a man in his early thirties working a dull office job and not really finding any direction in life. His long-time girlfriend, the smart and sophisticated Katherine, is beginning to get restless, which isn’t too surprising – the game refers to them having been together around seven years, and they still aren’t living together.

With Katherine pushing for a commitment from Vincent, he isn’t sure which way to turn, even less so when he begins to have strange nightmares which spill over into the real world as he wakes up next to a busty flirty blonde named Catherine he has no recollection of bedding.

The multi-platform levels are certainly fun, with multiple difficulty levels to choose from. There are enough unpredictable elements with ice blocks, bomb blocks, enemies, and a loose sense of a time limit to keep things interesting. You also have a mini boss at the end of each set of levels, with a ghoulish figure that represents Vincent’s primary worry at that stage of the game. These bosses each have slightly different strengths designed to keep you from finishing the level, but some might find levels a bit repetitive all the same.

This game is best for those who love a strong storyline, as the joy comes in choosing which path you want to take – your long time love Katherine, or the seductive and mysterious Catherine. Alongside the multi-platform levels, you can interact with characters during the day in the appropriately named Stray Sheep bar, making choices that will steer the game. These choices are as simple as how you phrase texts to Katherine and Catherine, or what responses you give when speaking to your friends in the bar, which really emphasises the overarching message of the game that even our seemingly small actions are shaping our lives all the time.

If you like a clever, thought provoking game that considers the question when and if we should settle down, with neat classical music touches and quirky anime graphics, Catherine is the game to pick up. If you have the patience to keep battling through the levels you can get all the endings too, including the supernatural twist.