s fun as it can be to play games where you face-off against the stereotypical baddie, sometimes you just want to chill out and that’s where the Animal Crossing games shine. Every single instalment of the franchise has a relaxed vibe that very few games have been able to replicate. However, it doesn’t mean that all of them hold the top spot among fans and currently there are two installments that are fighting it out.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch) is the latest installment in the franchise but even though it’s already over one year old, a lot of fans are still looking at its predecessor New Leaf (3DS) as their firm favourite.
New Horizons itself is great, no argument there and many fans agree that both games have their merits. However even with all of the new features in the game, there are still many aspects from New Leaf that are sorely missed.
Any Animal Crossing game is incredibly relaxing after a long day of putting up with the world and there’s nothing that I like more than wandering past my villagers to water the flowers that I stole from outside their house. The relaxation is hugely down to the soundtrack of calm and soft instrumental music that accompanies you wherever you wander. According to Redditor GotoJailDD200deep in the comments on a thread discussing the two games “New Leaf has a WAY better soundtrack’’.
A drastic difference that I have noticed in New Horizons is that the visitors like Redd are more frequent – though I’m not sure how many more scams from that dodgy art dealer I can take. Poor Gulliver constantly seems to keep getting thrown, sorry, seems to keep “falling” overboard. Visitors like this were in New Leaf but their visiting days were few and far between but they were complex characters with unique personalities that you could build friendships with. The lack of villager interactions like this and key characters having disappeared in New Horizons has given some fans on an Animal Crossing forum page reason to prefer the older game.
No one knows for sure but there is suspicion that the upcoming content for later this year may bring a fan favourite to the game, so there is hope. The rumored character is Brewster, the barista Pigeon of little words and many cups of coffee. In New Leaf you did have to work to build a café to get Brewster, but at least the option was there! Once you had built it, you could pop in whenever you felt like it and buy a coffee with the Bells that Nook hadn’t got his paws on yet. Yes, some may say that going to get a virtual cup of coffee could be a waste of time but those people are missing the magic of Animal Crossing!
Another big question fans have is where in the universe is Tortimer?! I am not ready to accept the fan theory that the beloved tortoise has passed on nor that Nook had a part in his demise. In New Leaf, you could use Kapp’n’s boat (yet another missing character) to get to Tortimer Island. The Island is a tropical paradise where it’s constantly summer and the weather is always perfect. You could hire tools to harvest Coconuts from the trees or you could put on a wetsuit and go diving for new sea creatures. Diving is a feature in the new game, but it’s the Island we’re missing. Also, if you get bored of perfect tropical sunshine – if that’s possible – you can go inside and ask to go on a tour. These are mini-games that you can go to and of course, Tortimer hosts them for his whippersnappers.
Tortimer’s Island is something that most of us miss as you don’t need to have a membership to visit the Island and collect rare items. In New Horizons, to get a chance at getting rarer resources you will need to have the Nintendo Online Membership, which many fans haven’t got, to visit a friend’s Island.
New Leaf seemed to be holding onto a feature seen in the Wii game Animal Crossing: City Folk, where there is a separate area that you can go shopping. All you have to do is cross the train tracks (carefully) and you will have a small high-street area filled with shops. Granted at first there aren’t many but the longer you play the game, the more buildings you get. Even though it’s only small, it does feel like an entirely separate part of the game and it keeps you from getting bored.
You can go to the flower shop run by the lovable Leif or you can go and see a comedy show by a melancholic Axolotl. The small but detailed interactive moments with other characters are sorely missed by many. A discussion between fans shows just how important attention the small content details like that are to a games’ popularity among a loyal community.
Currently, New Leaf is still beating New Horizons for the top spot in terms of fan favorites but I strongly believe that there is a lot to come from the newer game and New Horizons could easily become the best. I’m certain that we’re in for some big surprises as the game progresses especially since the Nintendo president confirms that there is more content to look forward to. All we need to have now is Brewster and to find out that Tortimer is living his best life on an Island.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is available now, as is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.