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Review: Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo

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How is this free?!

Animal Crossing: New Leaf was an incredible update to a charming series. The amount of polish along with bonus features made coming back everyday something I looked forward to. I played the game for a solid year straight to catch every bug, fish, and deep-sea creature to complete my museum (something I hadn’t done in the previous installments).

While I might have killed my own enthusiasm about the game, Nintendo did everything to make New Leaf worth returning to. The characters were cute, the customization options were through the roof, and the expanded island getaway (with mini-games!) was a joy with friends. The extra attention given to holidays was also just great, making each one feel wholly unique.

While I’m not going to go over my thoughts about the main game, I am going to address the Welcome amiibo update and how it has rekindled my love for New Leaf. I didn’t think you could add so much for free, but Nintendo has once again shown how dedicated it can be to its fans.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome amiibo (3DS)
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: November 2, 2016 (Patch) / December 2, 2016 (Retail)
MSRP: Free (Patch) / $19.99 (Retail)

After grabbing the update from the eShop and booting the game up, I didn’t expect to be sitting on the initial train ride into my town. I thought I might have wiped my save or corrupted some data, but it turns out this ride is all so Isabelle (your assistant) can explain about the new campground in your town. This campground is home to a new character, a dog named Harv, and a new form of currency with which to buy items.

Once you get off the train and walk over to the camp, Harv talks about the MEOW (mutual exchange of wealth) coupons that you can use to acquire stuff from the campground. Along with that, Isabelle explains the new “town initiatives” that reward you with coupons. These range from small tasks like “Go fishing” to bigger, week-long tasks like, “Donate five fossils,” and so on.

While these goals are really fun and go a long way to incentivizing returning players to come back, I noticed that the game never took into account that I’ve completed my museum. There is no possible way for me to donate any new fossils, art, bugs, or fish, yet some initiatives task me with doing so. Seems like a strange oversight, though it doesn’t ruin the rest of the experience.

Obviously the biggest addition with Welcome amiibo is support for the Animal Crossing line of amiibo. While I haven’t personally bought any of these, my mother had a few on hand (she is a gigantic Animal Crossing fan), so I have tested them. The implementation is a little obtuse to find, but it definitely fits in with how previous unlocks were acquired in the regular New Leaf package.

After installing the update and going through with the reintroduction to your town, you’ll basically just need to play a bit before your character hears a ghost talking to them. Then you walk around until eventually being led to a magic lamp. You can take this lamp back to your house and there you’ll meet Wisp (a returning ghost character).

He has the ability to possess the body of any of the Animal Crossing amiibo (and the Zelda and Splatoon ones, for some reason) and can have them visit your town. You can even ask a pretty large number of them to move into your town, which then gives you the ability to select a specific villager to kick out.

After asking someone to visit, you can meet them at the campground. They will come in a specially marked van and have a bunch of items for you to buy with your MEOW coupons. Just talking to Wisp grants you some coupons, as well, so getting currency to grab these items isn’t too hard.

Since I already have a section of the museum decked out with Zelda items from the fortune cookies, having Medli, Epona, and Wolf Link visit was amazing for me. I now have the Termina Moon floating around on the upper level along with a Gossip Stone and a Cucco. If you’re really into Splatoon, I’m sure having those amiibo will give you the same options for decking out your house.

As for how to store all these new items, Nintendo thought of a nice way. With the new update, you can now get a “secret storeroom” for your house. This gives you a remarkable amount of extra cabinet space to keep items (an additional 36 full pages). Accessing this is as simple as entering your house and clicking on the gate icon on the touch screen.

Transferring items over can be a bit cumbersome (since you still have to have items currently on you), but eventually you’ll have everything set up the way you want it. Along with this new storeroom comes the ability to use the touchscreen to rearrange your house. I’ve wanted this feature for a while now and I’m happy to see it make the jump from Happy Home Designer. Any item can be manipulated, including stuff you hang on the walls.

That isn’t the only nod to the spin-off title, either. If you have a save file from Happy Home Designer (be it digital or retail), you can transfer some of the catalog over to get giant versions of items. I have some weird fascination with the teddy bears from the main game, so having a mega version of them is awesome. They are like some weird family in my study, all sitting down and reading books by the fire.

Maybe you want to experience all of this stuff with a fresh town; I’m not one to judge. The Welcome amiibo update gives you a nice option to restart your progress. Instead of just wiping your town and going back to square one, Tom Nook will now offer you a ludicrous amount of bells based on the state of your town.

Along with being able to start over with multiple millions of bells, you also get to keep the progress of your catalog and any items you have saved. I considered doing this for my own save file, but I just have too much attachment to my town. While I think this feature is neat, I would have liked to have seen the option for a second town, obviously distinct from your first save.

There is also something called “amiibo Camera” which lets you scan amiibo and then pose them in a scene. I haven’t even bothered to give this a shot, as it reminds me of the “Pictures with Mario” app Nintendo released a few years ago. It is cool and all, but the low resolution of the 3DS’ camera makes photos look horrible.

The best thing about this new update is the extra mini-games included. After acquiring the New 3DS and Wii U items (either through fortune cookies or amiibo), you are given access to Animal Crossing: Puzzle League and Animal Crossing: Desert Island Escape (which debuted in amiibo Festival). While these could have easily been throwaway extras, both games have multiple difficulty levels and modes to freshen up the experience.

Desert Island Escape is mostly based around amiibo, though you can utilize your town’s villagers with 3DS play coins. You assemble a team of three and are tasked with building a raft to escape a desert island within a set number of turns. The game functions on a hexagonal grid playing field. Some spots have events that can occur, such as running into fruit or dropping into a pitfall. You need to manage your team’s resources so they don’t run out of food while also crafting items that can let you gather food easier or avoid being stung by bees.

While I’m a little put off with how team building requires play coins, having amiibos completely skips over this. You also don’t need to rescan amiibos after making a team for the first time, so you could always go into a store and scan them through the packaging and keep going.

Each villager has different attributes, such has being able to move a larger number of spaces or having a special ability to tunnel through the ground. It makes crafting a team interesting and stops you from having your team be all the same type of character (even if I went with Timmy, Tommy, and uncle Nook). The amount of levels is also fairly large, so you could get upwards of five hours out of trying to finish each island.

Puzzle League, my personal favorite, is basically an Animal Crossing-themed version of Tetris Attack. You line up three blocks either vertically or horizontally in an attempt to clear the screen. Blocks come in varieties of color (stylized with fruits from Animal Crossing) and the screen crawls upwards, forcing you to constantly make combos or risk losing.

The way that Animal Crossing spins this idea is that your character is campaigning to become champion of the puzzle league. Before facing off against other villagers, you need to campaign and drum up support for your cause. This takes the form of three rounds that, if cleared quickly, will give you a huge boost to your support percentage.

When the final round comes, your goal is to build your support to 100 percent. Some rounds have different stipulations to mix up the game, like creating combos next to candy pieces or having trash fall on the playfield. As with Desert Island Escape, you can scan an amiibo to lend their abilities to your game.

I’ve only tried out Resetti, but he grants you the ability to shift around all of the blocks currently on the screen. If you don’t have an amiibo, you’ll only have access to one of the abilities, but the game doesn’t depend on these by any means. It would be nice to have unlockable powers, but Tetris Attack never got boring without them, so I can’t complain too much.

Just like Desert Island Escape, there are different modes and difficulty levels to choose from. Upon beating story mode, you unlock hard mode and after encountering the candy or trash levels in story mode, you unlock mini-games based on those. It brings a surprising amount of replayability to this mini-game, something which didn’t even need to exist.

I’m mostly surprised amiibo Festival was even a game after playing these. Couldn’t Nintendo have just released a bunch of paid DLC bonuses to New Leaf? I would have gladly spent $10 to get the two games we have. Even if I don’t end up exploring more of my town, I now have a reason to check back in.

This update may exist solely to push sales for the Animal Crossing amiibo lineup, but it offers a lot of extra content for everyone. Whether you’re new to the series or a returning mayor, you’d be silly to pass on downloading Welcome amiibo. It may not completely transform the base game, but the increased playability given to certain features makes for a more enjoyable experience.


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Peter Glagowski
Peter GlagowskiNews/Reviews Contributor   gamer profile

Plucked right from the DToid community (formerly KingSigy), Peter is an aspiring writer with a passion for gaming and fitness. If you can't find him in front of a game, you'll most likely find hi... more + disclosures


 



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