While retaining much of the gameplay from older titles, Animal Crossing: New Leaf marks a large change in the series, as the player now takes on the role of the mayor. With the help of the townsfolk and "one eager secretary" it is now the player's job to make the town a better place to live. New Leaf also has a change of art style, with the players and the villagers having more human-like shapes, rather than the shorter ones seen in previous games, as well as the trees, flowers, and houses taking on a more realistic appearance.
Concept art for the Animal Crossing: New Leaf town, telling what is on the map.
The game was originally unveiled at E3 2010, though very little was shown. A trailer was shown showing off featuring the updated features, and little new features were shown. Shortly after, there was news that the player could be the mayor of the town, with the goal being to make the town a better place to live. A non-playable demo was also available on the show floor at Nintendo's booth as an example of the 3DS's 3D effects. Due to it not being given much detail, fans speculated that it might have not been an actual game but just an example and that another Animal Crossing game would be developed later.
At E3 2011, the rumors were proven false. During Nintendo's press conference, the Animal Crossing logo, among others, appeared on-screen as a list of upcoming 3DS games. Additionally, a new trailer was released. The trailer showed off a new feature in the game: swimming and diving in the ocean. Also, a player was shown changing not only his shirt, but also his shoes and pants. A player was also shown coming out of what appeared to be his tent-house. Throughout the town, benches and a beehive were shown, with a villager and later a player sitting on the bench. A new character was also shown, a yellow dog following the player. Fans quickly assumed she was the 'eager secretary' that helps the player mayor the town.
In an interview with Kotaku editor Stephen Totilo, the creator of Animal Crossing, Katsuya Eguchi, revealed that Animal Crossing 3DS will allow players to arrange their furniture in any way they like, and will also feature new networking experiences.
The title was confirmed at the Nintendo World Report on April 21, 2012.
Reggie Fils-Aime confirmed Animal Crossing: New Leaf is still in development on Monday June 11, 2012 for 3DS.
In the June direct conference it was confirmed that 4 people can live in the same village like the last 3 games.
On another note, in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, they will reintroduce the train and Porter.
In early October, an Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS XL bundle was announced in Japan for when the game releases.
In addition, another Japanese Nintendo Direct episode regarding Animal Crossing was scheduled for Friday, October 5. During the 47 minute video, highlights included K.K. Slider now performing as a DJ at a comedy club known as Club lol, customized road designs, megaphones for getting villagers' attention, diving for coral, new multiplayer games hosted on islands, meeting other players through the 3DS's StreetPass feature, and more.
Nintendo later announced in April 2013 that the Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS XL bundle will also be released in North America and Europe, which includes a copy of New Leaf on its SD card at a total price of $219.99.
The Japanese Version Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS XL bundle
Unlike the last few installments in the series, where the player became a resident of their town, the player is now the mayor of the town. While the player is still able to relax and engage in activities such as fishing and bug catching, they now have the responsibility of regulating the town and improving it. The player can build new features for the town, such as bridges, statues, or shrubs. They also can alter store prices and hours. Only the first player to start up the game is the mayor.
The dock from which Kapp'n will take the player to the island.
The tropical island from Animal Crossing returns in New Leaf as Tortimer Island, which can be accessed from the dock after certain conditions have been met. Kapp'n can take up to four players to the island on his motorboat for 1000 Bells, and the location is accessible to Wi-Fi visitors. No items can be taken to Tortimer Island, and all items in every players' pockets will kept in storage until they return. On Tortimer Island, players can participate in a variety of 38 minigames, called tours, hosted by Tortimer himself. Winning these tours wins the player medals which can be used to buy exclusive items at the island's shop. The items collect in the island must be put in a box near the entrance. The box has room for 40 items and all items in your inventory when you leave will be sold for a cheaper price than retail except for rented tools and equipment which will automatically be collected before you leave.
Many villagers from the previous games make their reappearance, in addition to a number of new ones. The number of villagers able to live in each town is regularly 9 but setting up a campsite and convincing the villager inside the campsite to move into town can make a total of ten. New species of villagers have also been introduced, including the hamster and the deer. Two new personality types, smug and uchi, have been added to the game in addition to the returning six, making for a total of eight different possible personalities. Each personality now has their own pitch of Animalese, unlike previous games where the voices only differed by gender (with the exception of cranky villagers).
New fruits have been added to the game (Bananas, Durians, Lemons, Lychees, Mangoes, Persimmons).
The player can now customize their pants and shoes, reflecting the taller character designs seen in the game's art style. They can also take off their shoes.
Each personality now has their own pitch of Animalese, before the variants were limited to Male, Female, and Cranky Male. The pitch of Normal and Lazy villagers sound very similar to the generic male and female voices in previous games. Peppy villagers sound like Normal villagers, but are a bit higher-pitched. Likewise, Jock villagers sound like Lazy villagers, but are a bit lower-pitched. Snooty villagers use the voice that was once reserved for Joan. Cranky villagers sound like they've always been. Smug villagers use the voice that was once reserved for Farley. And Uchi villagers sound like Snooty villagers, but are a bit higher-pitched.
The player can now pick the town layout while on the train when the game starts, rather than be assigned a random map.
House exteriors can now be customized to reflect various styles.
Certain pieces of furniture can now be placed onto walls.
The player can now go swimming in the ocean and dive for coral and deep sea creatures, a new type of collectible.
Several new villagers, and special characters are introduced, as are several new species, such as hamsters, deer, and alpacas.
Flowers now drip with water once they have the watering can used on them, allowing the player to know whether they've watered it or not.
A new tool, the Megaphone, can be used to get a villagers' attention and location by saying their name into the system's microphone.
Certain pieces of furniture are now customizable using various colors and designs.
The player can communicate with another player even if they are in a different town.
New multiplayer games are hosted on islands accessible by boat. Medals are awarded to winners of mini-games hosted by Tortimer, which can be traded for prizes.
Villagers are now more active in the town environment, being capable of fishing, shaking trees, entering buildings, and so on.
The player can now choose where they want their house.
New Leaf features a new Main Street, a shopping district located to the north of every player's town. It is similar to Animal Crossing: City Folk's City. The shopping district features a wide array of shops and venues, many of which are new to the series:
Classic, which run by Booker and appears as square wooden building.
Modern, which is run by Copper and resembles the rounded building seen in previous games.
Resetti Surveillance Center - The surveillance center returns as a public works project, which is designed as a manhole cover the player may enter after rainy days.
The Roost - This coffee shop also makes a return as a standalone building that can be built through a public works project. Brewster makes his return in the Roost, who the player can now work part-time for, and take coffee to-go outside of the Roost.
Campground - A campground can be constructed as a public works project. Depending on the season, Tents and Igloos will periodically appear with animal visitors. Players can play games with them, and occasionally encourage, or discourage them to move into their town.
New Leaf received overwhelmingly positive reviews and ratings upon release. Its visuals were a key point for praise, with the 3D features well-commended. The more in-depth gameplay and details offered from previous Animal Crossing games were also viewed positively, along with the presence of enough new content to keep the game exciting.
In Japan, the game sold over 600,000 copies in its first week, and went on to become the top-selling Nintendo 3DS game in the country at over 2 million units. Worldwide, New Leaf has sold over 3.87 million units as of June 12, 2013.
The following are official press images distributed to Animal Crossing sites. Most of the images were taken directly from the trailers, but some new character art was also provided for players, Bill, Rosie, Bob, Filbert and Curt.
A player near a rock. Notice how realistic the trees are.
A player with Curt in front of a bench. Notice the new lampposts and the return of the bedhead.
A player with Bob on a beach. Notice the new beaches on the sides of the town.
During a Nintendo Direct on June 21st 2012, gameplay footage of the new Animal Crossing was shown that reveals a wealth of new information. The following video is a translation of the footage into English.
June 2012 Nintendo Direct
This video translates all the Text in the Game.
June 2012 Nintendo Direct
The following video breaks down the trailer and goes more in depth noticing the new features and items in the New Game.