Animal Crossing: New Leaf isn’t just a game — it’s a whole new world full of loving characters and insurmountable charm. A new where you’ll sometimes find a Metroid or a Trifocal in a fortune candy bar, where you can arrange your surroundings to perfectly suit your tastes, and where the Mayor still chips in at the local coffee joint. Every day feels not the same as the last, like you’re living out another (and wonderful) life with your wacky villagers. There’s always something to work toward, something to look forward to, something to be like to show off in order to remember lovingly. New Leaf is a truly magical game, one that you can easily expect you’ll invest hundreds of hours in over the course of years. Anyone with access to a 3DS should absolutely give this game a go — just anticipate to kiss and lick your “real” life goodbye.

For players who crave a more corporeal form of interaction, you can also engage in a series of delightful mini-games with players across the globe on Resort Island, headed up by the former Animal Crossing mayor, Tortimer. The island’s continuous summer is pretty relaxing, and a great chance to refill on in season fruit, beetles, and sharks for the selling. It’s also convenient that you are fully able to enjoy the island and its diversions all by yourself if, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like going online. Finally, Street Pass has been utilized to help you to view the houses of anyone you pass who has a copy of the game. It’s really cool getting to see everyone’s different decorating styles, as well as being able to pick the things that catch your eye. In a way, it creates the illusion of a persistent game world for you and your Street Pass friends, which is a nice touch.

What sets Animal Crossing New Leaf Guide apart — and makes it a cut above the rest — is that the barriers laid down in past entries have largely been removed, enabling an awareness of freedom, creation, and ownership like nothing you’ve seen prior. As the acting Mayor (catastrophe for the series), you’re now able to decorate not just the of one’s house, but the outside too, as well as your whole town. From the very outset you have a return deciding the layout of your town and the placement of your house, and eventually it’s all giving you to decide the venue of certain establishments (like the Roost and the Police Station), as well as to determine what decorations will elegance your town and where they’ll go. You can place a miniature Stonehenge by the beach, a Zen bell by the train station, some streetlamps because of your favorite villager’s house, or even encircle your own place (which can be a castle, if you like) with fountains. The number of choices expand the more you play, as villagers keep making tips for possible Public Works projects to improve your town. You can even customize specific home furnishings by taking them over to Cyrus at the market shop, ensuring that your home and town will be quite distinct from anyone else’s.

One of the most astounding reasons for New Leaf is how much there is to do. In just a few weeks I’ve put in approximately a hundred hours, and there’s still so much I’d like to accomplish. In addition to the familiar activities, new additions like diving and swimming allow you to explore and interact with your town in a completely new way. It’s refreshing, and a whole lot of fun. Completing public works projects, designing furniture, and visiting the plethora of shops across the tracks will also take up their fair share of time, and Nintendo fans will be pleased to know that there’s now a whole choice of Big In items you can acquire to decorate your house with (so if you’re interested in getting a Triforce or Metroid for your living room, be sure to buy those fortune cookies available for sale in the Space brothers’ shop). Throw in new holidays, new characters (like Reese and Cyrus from the market shop), new clothing options, new furniture and so on, and you’re left with an experience that is fresh, yet familiar. Simple, yet refined.