Animal Crossing: New Leaf
North American game cover
|Release date(s)|| November 8, 2012|
February 7, 2013
June 9, 2013
June 14, 2013
June 15, 2013
|Language(s)|| English, French, Spanish|
English, French, Italian, German, Spanish
Multiplayer (1–4 player local wireless/online)
|Media||Nintendo 3DS Game Card|
Nintendo eShop digital download
|File size||6,002 Blocks (digital download only)|
An open-ended game, New Leaf follows a player-controlled human living in a town populated with animals and performing various tasks, such as interacting with characters and collecting items. As is with all games in the Animal Crossing series, the game is synced to the system clock, which affects gameplay based on the current time and day. New Leaf sees the introduction of the player undertaking the role as mayor of the town, allowing for added freedom and customisation.
In November 2016, New Leaf received a free expansion titled Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo. It was first released on November 2nd 2016. The update included new gameplay features and the inclusion of amiibo support.
Development and unveiling
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was first unveiled during E3 2010, on June 15th, 2010. During Nintendo's E3 2010 conference, a non-playable demo showcased footage of the game, and it was announced that the player would undertake the role as mayor of the town, with the goal of making it a better place to live. At this time, the game was then untitled, given a working title of just Animal Crossing. Additional gameplay footage was released on September 29th 2010 at the Nintendo 3DS Conference.
Early work and planning for the English localisation of New Leaf began in late 2010, according to Reiko Ninomiya of Nintendo Treehouse. Ninomiya explained, "We worked with the development team and brainstormed ideas for events and items, and even how some of the old characters and events could be twisted and changed and have them evolve as well."  New gameplay footage was revealed at the Nintendo World Expo in January 2011.
On June 7th, 2011, New Leaf received its first full-length gameplay trailer as part of E3 2011. An additional trailer was released as part of the Nintendo 3DS Conference in September 2011. A developer roundtable hosted in September 2011 revealed additional information about the game, such as expanded clothing and customisation options, and formally introduced Isabelle as the mayor's assistant.
Full localisation of New Leaf began in March 2012, according to Reiko Ninomiya; "The actual translation we started in, I'd like to put the pin right around March 2012. So we did English, French, and Spanish for our region and we got to work really closely together with Nintendo of Europe as well." 
During a Nintendo Direct hosted on April 21st, 2012, the game's Japanese subtitled was announced [nb 2] and the game was given a release window of Fall 2012. A Japanese exclusive Animal Crossing Direct premiered on October 5th, 2012, showcasing more of the game's new features. On October 25th, 2012, a Nintendo Direct announced the game's localised subtitle as Animal Crossing: New Leaf and was set to launch overseas in early 2013. The definitive release dates of the game for North America, Europe, and Australia, were announced in a Nintendo Direct on February 14th, 2013.
Like previous Animal Crossing games before it, New Leaf is an open-ended simulation game where the player takes the role of a human moving into a town of animals. Tasks the player can partake in include socializing with villagers, collecting items, catching fish and bugs, and paying off their home loan. The game takes place in real-time, meaning the in-game time of day and year matches that of the Nintendo 3DS. The time of day and year affects aspects of gameplay such as whether or not shops are open or villagers are awake, seasonal events, and the availability of certain fish, bugs, and items. Up to four players can live in a town, with each one having their own house.
The game begins with the player's train ride moving into their new town. On the train, they are greeted by Rover, whose questions determine the player's appearance. When the first player arrives in town, they are greeted by Isabelle and three villagers, who believe them to be the new mayor of the town; all subsequent players are instead greeted as standard residents.
The mayor's secretary, Isabelle, takes the player to the town hall, where she gives the player their Town Pass Card and encourages them to visit Nook's Homes on main street to find a place to live. The player is then introduced to Tom Nook, who offers to build them a house.
After choosing a location for their new home, Isabelle informs the player they need to increase their town approval rating as mayor, which is done by performing various day-to-day tasks in the town. When a player's approval rating reaches one hundred percent, the ability to build public works projects and enact ordinances as mayor is unlocked.
As the mayor of the town, the player is given the task to make it a better place to live and achieve a "perfect town" environment rating status. This can be done through the mayor's ability to build public works projects, which are outdoor structures (such as bridges, benches, and various amenities) that can be placed around town, for a new level of added customisation to the Animal Crossing series. The mayor can also enact ordinances, which changes an aspect of the town, such as the opening hours of stores or the price of items. Only the first player to move to the town is mayor; all subsequent players are standard residents and cannot perform the duties of mayor.
The town can facilitate up to four playable residents on the same game cartridge, with four-person simultaneous multiplayer supported through online means and local wireless. New Leaf places heightened emphasis on multiplayer and connection features due to the added online functionality of the Nintendo 3DS, compared to past Nintendo systems.
New Leaf introduces the "best friend" system, which allows for an instant message-exchange function, the ability to play online mini-games through Club Tortimer, visit other player's towns via the Dream Suite, and view player's homes at the Happy Home Showcase. New Leaf co-director Aya Kyogoku explained this was done in order to "feel the presence of others" within the game, building upon the original mission of Doubutsu no Mori - "encouraging communication among different players." 
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo
New Leaf received a free major content expansion titled Welcome amiibo in November 2016. The update was previously announced on July 20th, 2016, with the promise of added amiibo figure and card support, with a release date announced for that autumn. On November 2nd, 2016, the update was fully unveiled asWelcome amiibo in a 16-minute Animal Crossing Direct, and was released that same day.
The Welcome amiibo update saw several new features added to the game; notably, the addition of the campground, run by Harvey, a new location that facilitates amiibo support. Wisp also returns to the Animal Crossing series, allowing the player to scan in amiibo cards and figures, to invite villagers and special characters to the campground. Additionally, the update increases the total villager count from to 399; with 14 entirely new villagers, and 46 returning from Doubutsu no Mori.
New locations in New Leaf include Main Street, Timmy and Tommy's store, Nook's Homes, Kicks, Club LOL, the Garden Shop, Photo Booth, Dream Suite, Happy Home Showcase, Tortimer Island, and Re-Tail. Several locations from previous games, such as the museum and the Able Sisters, return as well.
New Leaf introduces several new items, such as sea creatures that can be donated to the museum, statues that can be donated to the museum as art, wall-mounted furniture, bottoms, socks, and shoes. Additionally, the appearance of furniture can now be customized at Re-Tail.
- Each personality now has its own pitch of Animalese; in previous games, the variants were limited to male, female, and cranky male.
- The player can now pick the town layout while on the train when the game starts, rather than being assigned a random map.
- House exteriors can now be customized to reflect various styles.
- Flowers now drip with water once a watering can has been used on them, allowing the player to know whether they've watered it or not. After this, the flowers that have been watered start to shine.
- The player can communicate with another player even if they are in a different town.
- Villagers are now more active in the town environment, being capable of fishing, shaking trees, entering buildings, and more.
- The player can now choose where they want their house.
New special characters
Returning special character
There are a total of 333 villagers in New Leaf, which is 123 more than Animal Crossing: City Folk. 100 new villagers have been added, 24 have returned after being absent from Wild World and City Folk, and one—Champ—has been removed. Additionally, two new personality types—big sister and smug—and two new villager species—hamster and deer—have been added.
24 villagers return from Doubutsu no Mori, Doubutsu no Mori+, Animal Crossing, and the Japan-exclusive Doubutsu no Mori e+. Seven villagers (marked below) initially only appeared in the latter game and receive localized names for the first time. Seven of the returning villagers have their personalities changed.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was first released on November 8th, 2012 in Japan, and in South Korea on February 7th, 2013.  The game was released internationally across June 2013, releasing in North America on June 9th,  in Europe on June 14th, and Australia on June 15th, 2013.
Special edition consoles
A special edition Animal Crossing themed Nintendo 3DS XL console was released alongside New Leaf in North America, Europe, and Japan, circa 2013. It contained a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf pre-installed. A standard red-and-white themed Nintendo 2DS bundled with New Leaf was also released in Europe.
New Leaf received generally 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, New Leaf 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. The game has sold 13.02 million global units as of December 31st, 2022, making it the second best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series behind New Horizons.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was the first game in the Animal Crossing series to receive updates via the Nintendo eShop, which primarily focused on fixing bugs in the game, with the exception of Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo.
November 23, 2016
December 1, 2016
/ December 8, 2016
// November 2, 2016
/ March 3, 2013
/ June 2013
November 8, 2012
February 7, 2013
Animal Crossing: New Leaf received three tie-in manga in Japan: Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori: Minna de Seseragi Mura Life, Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori, and Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori: Harikiri Sonchō Ippē!.
- In the Wii U version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze , one of Donkey Kong's idle animation sees him pull out a blue Nintendo 3DS XL. Sound effects from one of four games, including Animal Crossing: New Leaf, can be heard. This easter egg does not return in the Nintendo Switch port.
Names in other languages
- sebdu60 (August 28, 2012). "Animal Crossing : Jump Out daté au Japon". Nintendo Master. Archived from the original on August 31, 2012. (French)
- E3 2010: Animal Crossing 3DS Announced
- Nintendo World Report - Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- Official Nintendo Magazine - E3 2010: Animal Crossing 3DS announced
- Animal Crossing 3DS - Nintendo Conference 2010
- Inside the Treehouse with Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Localizing Animal Crossing (Ep 1)
- Animal Crossing 3DS - New Footage 19/1/2011
- Nintendo 3DS - Animal Crossing E3 Trailer
- Animal Crossing 3DS Trailer (September 13th, 2011)
- Animal Crossing (3DS) - Developer Roundtable
- Animal Crossing Direct (Nintendo 3DS)
- Nintendo Direct 10.25.12
- Nintendo Direct 2.14.2013
- Katsuya Eguchi, Aya Kyogoku. "How to Turn a New Leaf at the Animal Crossing". GDC Vault.
- Damien McFerran (July 20th, 2016). "Autumn Animal Crossing: New Leaf Update To Bring amiibo Figure And Card Support". Nintendo Life.
- Nintendo (November 2, 2016). "Animal Crossing Direct 11.2.2016". YouTube.
- Polygon - Japan review check: Animal Crossing, Dynasty Warriors, Silent Hill
- GameSpot - Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review
- IGN - New Leaf Review
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Metacritic
- GameSpot - Big in Japan November 5-11: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- "IR Information : Financial Data - Top Selling Title Sales Units - Nintendo 3DS Software". Nintendo.
|Animal Crossing series|