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Be the mayor, turn over a New Leaf.
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Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori) is the fourth mainline installment of the Animal Crossing series. It was released on the Nintendo 3DS on November 8, 2012 in Japan, with a June 2013 western release following suit.

You move to a new town but are mistaken for the new mayor, and after planting the seed of the soon-to-blossom town tree, you are now in charge of town responsibilities. As the de-facto town mayor, the player has various unique abilities and interactions not found in the other previous entries, such as building Public Work Projects to customize your town with and setting public ordinances (such as letting plants grow for an extended period of not watering them). This is on top of the other gameplay aspects carried over from the previous games in the series; building bridges with (and for) your kooky villagers, sending them gifts, competing in the fishing tourney, picking fruit, customizing your house, and more.

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New Leaf was the most revolutionary title since 2005's Animal Crossing: Wild World. It boasts a revised art-style, new plot, and heavy changes to the mechanics, all of which were universally appreciated by the playerbase, of which it also brought quite a lot more newcomers into the franchise and brought even greater success to the already popular series, turning it into one of Nintendo's flagship IPs. Because of this, New Leaf is the most popular game in the series so far.

The game has a spinoff, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, which was released in 2015 and recycles most of its assets from New Leaf.

To everyone's surprise, on October 2016 a new update was announced and released for the game the following month, titled: Animal Crossing: New Leaf: Welcome amiibo (Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori amiibo+) or the "Welcome amiibo" update as players call it. This also meant newer physical copies of New Leaf all have the update built-in, while people who already own New Leaf can update their copy for free. The update, as the name suggests, adds amiibo compatibility, including specially made villager and NPC amiibo cards, the Animal Crossing amiibo figures, and other select amiibo. There are also various improvements to the game (you can sit on rocks now!).

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In a first for the franchise, there was no follow-up game, or even an HD port to the Wii U, so the home console versions skipped a generation from the Wii's Animal Crossing: City Folk to the Nintendo Switch's Animal Crossing: New Horizons 7-8 years later (though the gap was filled by the spin-off titles amiibo Festival, Happy Home Designer, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp). The Welcome amiibo update is the closest New Leaf had to a traditional follow-up.


This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Players need one before they can actually do anything as mayor.
  • Abandoned Mascot: The popularity of Isabelle caused her to replace K.K. Slider (and, to a lesser extent, Tom Nook) as the series' mascot.
  • Achievement System: Badges are handed out by Phineas the sea lion, who will visit your town whenever you qualify for a badge. They're awarded for things like completing a certain percentage of your bug/fish/diving encyclopedia, saving a lot of bells in your bank account, doing a lot of villager side-quests, or just playing the game for long enough, and each category has Badges available in bronze, silver, and gold versions.
  • All Just a Dream: In New Leaf, as is natural with every dream, anything you do and/or any item you pick up in a town you visit through the Dream Suite will not be carried over on either side... except for the patterns Wendell gives you, but that is justified because your character remembers, or rather was inspired because s/he saw it in a dream.
  • All or Nothing: During Tortimer's island tours, you must complete the given objective fully to receive Medals.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • You are able to cycle through the tools you are using by pressing left or right on the D-pad, saving the hassle of opening up your inventory all the time.
    • Already-watered flowers sparkle, so you have an idea as to what flowers need watering. Flower upkeep is also even easier as the silver and gold watering cans also water multiple flowers at once. The game also has the "Keep Your Town Beautiful" ordinance (See below) which relaxes the rules of flower watering.
    • You have the ability to stack fruit (one stack holds nine), cutting the number of trips down to Re-tail considerably.
    • The town ordinances are basically this, allowing players to make the game more convenient for them in certain ways:
      • The "Keep Your Town Beautiful" ordinance makes the town "decay" more slowly (flowers don't wilt, weeds appear less often, no cockroaches, etc.), lessening the pressure to Play Every Day for players who only have time to play, say, twice a week.
      • The "Early Bird" ordinance makes shops open and villagers wake up earlier for players who can only play/prefer to play during the early morning. Shops open and villagers wake up to three hours earlier, although neither of these will happen before 6 AM.
      • The "Night Owl" ordinance makes shops close and villagers go to bed later for players who can only play/prefer to play during nighttime. Shops close and villagers go to sleep three hours later than normal.
      • The "Bell Boom" ordinance increases buying and selling prices by 20%. This one is less for convenience and more for people who just want to earn Bells quickly, and use the bells on things that aren't affected by the price increase such as Public Works Projects.
    • With the readdition of the "Save and Continue" feature in this game (which was absent from Wild World and City Folk), avoiding bees is a lot easier (as they despawn after the save). Not only that, but you can actually pick up their beehives and sell them.
    • If you're trying to catch bees, the swarm will freeze in place when you open your inventory. This eliminates the rush to equip your net, allowing you to focus on the timing of your swing.
    • Buying an art item from Crazy Redd was a Luck-Based Mission in previous games. You never knew if the item was forged or not until you donated it to the museum. New Leaf makes it semi-easy to tell whether an art item is forged or not, though it takes a keen eye to tell (or more likely, a strategy guide).
    • Having trouble finding a Villager? Don't know where to find the holiday villagers? Don't remember where you built your snowman? Just buy a megaphone from the Nooklings' shop and say someone's name in the 3DS's microphone; you'll find out where they are from their speech bubbles. Though it doesn't tell you if the villagers are inside non-home buildings, so if they don't respond and aren't in their house, they could be in any store, visiting a friend, or in the museum. Which is a nasty waste of time looking through all those places, and is just better to wait until they come back later.
    • If an animal wants you to deliver a package to another animal who is asleep, they'll say to wait until said animal wakes up, saving you the trouble of going to the animal's house and finding out for yourself.
    • Normally, when talking to the villagers, the game allows you to quickly select the last option by hitting the B button. However, when making an important choice (such as deciding whether or not to release a catch or choosing what to put in someone's coffee in The Roost), pressing B doesn't select anything, preventing you from accidentally choosing the wrong thing.
    • Looking for a specific villager for your village, but none of your friends has them/doesn't want to trade? Don't feel like paying an arm and a leg of Bells to someone online to trade villagers with? Well, the Welcome amiibo update now lets you use amiibo cards of villagers to have them move in whenever you want them to, at which point you can convince them to move into your town. Already have the max amount villagers in your town though? No problem; the update also allows you to evict less than desired villagers in your town for ones you want. No more villagers you're less than happy with taking up spots of villagers you actually want!
    • The Welcome amiibo update also allows you to obtain a slew of items, both new and old (and very hard to find) items. For example, if Pavé is camping in Harvey's campground, not only will he have some Pavé furniture for purchase (normally only available through his frustrating game on Festivale) but he'll also have a Berliner (an item that's only available on New Years in the German version of New Leaf).
      • Also in Welcome amiibo, you can get a Wii U and a New Nintendo 3DS as furniture to play all new minigames. However, these can only be obtained by getting lucky with fortune cookies, which only 2 of a day can be bought and it costs Play Coins... That is, unless you scan an Animal Crossing amiibo (either a figurine, including the Smash Villager, or certain Welcome amiibo cards), invite them to the campground and order the item from them.
  • And That's Terrible: Inverted when a Cranky villager buys something in Re-Tail. They say that good deals are good.
  • The Artifact: The Campsite in New Leaf after the Welcome Amiibo update. The original function of the Campsite was to allow the player to preview possible villagers who could move into their town before they actually do, on top of getting some specific items... Which is something the Welcome Amiibo update does a lot better since the Camp Grounds offers all that with the ability to better control who it is through the Amiibo cards, on top of bypassing the population limit if the town is already at the max population. Since the update didn't remove the Campsite, it's still there after the update, with animals being noticeably rarer to appear in it on top of all that.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The summer and winter solstices introduced in New Leaf make no sense. The sun either doesn't set (summer) or doesn't rise (winter) for the whole day... which does happen in real life, but only at the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. Needless to say, your town is not located in the tundra.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Once you have all of the rooms built in New Leaf, you can remodel your house into a full-blown castle!
  • Boring, but Practical: In New Leaf, farming perfect fruit is kinda tedious, especially since perfect trees die after a few harvests — but it only takes a few minutes a day, selling it in a friend's town (with Bell Boom and a different native fruit type) will earn you 3,600 Bells a pop, and the amount of fruit you can harvest per day increases exponentially as you plant more trees.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: With the Welcome amiibo update, you can make your favorite villagers who have left come back by using amiibo and the 3DS amiibo reader (if you have a New 3DS, the reader is built right in). Want a town populated only by villagers you love? Be prepared to splurge money on amiibo (as well as a one-time investment in an amiibo reader if you don't have a New 3DS) if you weren't already actively collecting before and haven't bought a New 3DS or a reader. The game otherwise works fine without them, though. Also, these cards act as the ultimate insurance, in that if a villager you like does leave (again), you can simply use the card to beckon them back. Doesn't sound too bad? Amiibos are sold in blind bags, so you can't be sure about what you're getting until you paid up and open the bag. You can turn to eBay to get specific cards, but if your favorite characters happen to be very popular, expect to pay an arm and a leg for them.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: You can be this, as the mayor. Give all your residents silly catchphrases, and dress as outlandishly as you like—heck, you can wear actual bunny ears if you want—you can still be good at running the town.
  • Cosmetic Award: New Leaf introduces badges, which are rewarded for completing certain tasks (like catching a lot of bugs/fish, filling up most of your fish/bug encyclopedia, or just playing the game for a long time).
  • Counting Sheep: Luna does this before the player dozes off to a Dream Town in New Leaf.
  • Dream Land: A new feature in New Leaf is a building that allows players to travel to dream versions of other player's towns. Since it's a dream, anything done to the town is not permanent... but you can't take anything you find back to the real world. But Wendell can give you patterns used in the town.
  • Dream Walker: You can use the Dream Suite to share a "dream" version of your town (which serves as a sort of snap-shot of your town at the time and date you made the dream), and visit dreams of other players' towns.
  • Facepalm: The "Mistaken" emotion in New Leaf, where a star falls on top of the characters' head, stands in this gestures' place.
  • Gender-Neutral Writing: The game uses this when when NPC villagers refer to one another (i.e. "Thanks [player] for delivering that to [villager], I hope they enjoy it!"). The only real exceptions to this is when buying clothes, as the Able Sisters and Gracie comment what gender it'll look good on (meant for boys, meant for girls, gender-neutral). They'll also be surprised about pulling the look off if you buy a dress as a boy, for example, but they won't admonish you for it.
  • Girly Run: You do this while wearing a dress, no matter which gender you are. (The exception is the default skirt that the female player character wears if they aren't wearing any other skirt or pants- they will do a non-girly run while wearing it.)
  • Global Currency Exception: The island in New Leaf only accepts the medals you earn on tours. Also, fortune cookies can only be bought with Play Coins earned on your 3DS itself. The Welcome amiibo update introduces MEOW Coupons, which are earned by doing various tasks and are spent at Harvey's campground.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: The Perfect Fruit. There is a small chance a regular fruit tree will produce one, and their appearance is slightly different from their normal one (Perfect Oranges are larger and a more vibrant color, Perfect Peaches and Pears are golden, etc.). The villagers comment that its flavor is unbeatable and may ask you to find one of them. When you eat one, your character will have a rosy glow for a couple of seconds.
  • Ironic Fear: In New Leaf, the way to obtain candy from villagers during Halloween is to wear a mask that scares them, one of them being the Werewolf Hood. Among the villagers afraid of the Werewolf Hood include Chief, Fang, and Lobo...all of whom are actual wolves.
  • It's Up to You: Certain town improvements, once placed, require a contribution before they can be constructed. While Isabelle implies that the whole town can work together to raise the needed funds, in practice it's up to the player(s) — the NPC villagers will donate only a few hundred Bells a day, when most improvements cost tens of thousands or more.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Every town can have a unique tune, as the player character can customize it. It plays every time you speak to a character, among other instances.
    • The Nookling stores in New Leaf all have a leitmotif.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Compared to the original, characters are much nicer in the newer games. Villagers used to make cruel remarks and force you to play "games" or buy items from them for a random amount of bells (often the exact amount you have on you) and give you junk in return. Aside from them, the snowmen went from outright hostile towards you if you mess up assembling them to forgiving of your mistake, Rover initially being passive aggressive if you refuse to let him sit across from you in the train after he comments about drooling on you, and Phyllis' snark was toned down from being passive aggressive to comments about closing the door when you leave.
    • Resetti is optional in New Leaf. If the player chooses not to build the Reset Center, Isabelle's "Oh, Mayor? Looks like you forgot to save last time." is much gentler then Resetti's former scoldings.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: A different track plays when you're in one of the Nookling stores in New Leaf after it closes... but you're forced into a conversation with whomever is in the store with you and the conversation autoscrolls.
  • Mayor Pain: The player can be this if they don't do their Mayoral duties and antagonize Villagers.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: During the April Fool's event, a villager might try to prove their identity by saying how many siblings they have. Some of these families have a very high number of children, up to ten (including the villager in question). Quite a few of them will also claim to be part of a multiple birth, up to quintuplets.
  • Minigame Zone: The island lets you go on "tours", where you can play various minigames (scavenger hunting, hide-and-seek, etc.) to earn medals, which you can trade for exclusive items. For 50 medals, you can also join Club Tortimer, which lets you play online with players all around the world. (The fee is probably to deter griefers from joining, and while they ended up joining anyway, Nintendo at least added the option to turn the chat feature off in the Welcome amiibo update.)
  • Misfortune Cookie: When you eat a fortune cookie from the Nooklings' shop, you'll usually receive a fortune that can be redeemed for a piece of Nintendo memorabilia, but there's a 1 in 10 chance of you receiving a fortune with a pessimistic or nihilistic message, which will give you a low-quality piece of furniture. Likewise, during the Sunday fireworks festivals in August, Redd sells you fortune cookies that can be turned in for one of six exclusive prizes or a firework, but the ratio of winners to duds is inverted.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: In New Leaf, the townsfolk mistake you for the new mayor who was due to arrive that day. Later, you receive a message from the real mayor, who lets you keep the position and wishes you luck.
  • Money Sink: The home loans in all the games, and public works projects in New Leaf.
  • Mook Chivalry: It sure is nice of those rampaging New Leaf bees to just fly around in circles while you equip your net.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Rover mentions he hasn't ridden the trains much since 2002, referring back to the first game's mode of travel.
    • When discussing your first down payment, Tom Nook mentions how much easier it is to make money on your own than to get low-paying part-time employment, lampshading the errands he would force you to do as part of the tutorial in the older games.
    • Timmy and Tommy sometimes say that their store does not have a points system, referencing the one present in City Folk.
    • Gulliver will occasionally mention that he has a hard time convincing others that he's been to space. In Wild World and City Folk he flew in a spaceship, instead of being washed ashore, as in this game and the first one.
    • Pete says he doesn't fly to deliver letters because someone at his old job would shoot him with a slingshot.
    • Some characters will also talk about the game in terms of trains, like how the train is the fourth generation version and unlike the last two generations, is completely different, and that it had inherited some of the "DNA" of the first generation. New Leaf brought back several elements from the original version of the game, such as trains and the island. It also shook up the series formula after complaints that the last two installments of the series were too similar to each other.
    • TVs in the original Animal Crossing would only play one program based on what the TV was (for example, the Apple TV would have apples rolling across the screen). At certain times in New Leaf, the TV will play a moment of classic programs (the show that plays in this video comes from the Retro TV in the original).
  • New Game+: After the Welcome amiibo update, this became an option in New Leaf. If the player chooses to start a new town after putting enough effort into their previous town, Tom Nook will offer to buy the old town, depositing a large number of Bells into the new character's bank account to speed things up. Players may choose to receive the money gradually instead of all at once, which includes interest as a bonus for choosing that option.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: This can happen for you when you save and continue. And sometimes, villagers will already be inside a store when you walk in, even if you enter the instant they open.
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • New Leaf: Welcome amiibo lets you order giant furniture items if you have Happy Home Designer.
    • Design QR codes are cross-compatible among New Leaf, Happy Home Designer, and (with help from a smartphone, since the Switch has no camera) New Horizons.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The island in New Leaf. Selling exotic fruit and nocturnal beetles can net the player hundreds of thousands of a bells in a relative instant, especially if they have the Bell Boom ordinance in effect. Beetle-farming has even been directly recommended as a bell-making method by NoA President Reggie Fils-Aime.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy:
    • In New Leaf, the pajamas you wear when visiting dream towns are this, as are the Town Pass Cards.
    • Reese and Cyrus are pink girl and blue boy, respectively.
  • Podcast: In-Universe. In New Leaf, when the player gets an octopus, they say to find more about it on his podcast.
  • Player Data Sharing: The Happy Home Academy Showcase and the Dream Suite in New Leaf are implementations of this. The Showcase allows you to buy furniture from the homes of other players you've StreetPassed and the Dream Suite allows you to get new patterns from other players' towns over the Internet.
  • Pop Quiz: Gulliver will ask you to help identify his original destination by giving you a few factoids about it. Get it right, and he'll send you a souvenir.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • Some of the background songs in the game are rearrangements of each of the games' respective title theme (e.g., 8 P.M. for New Leaf).
    • You can create your own recurring riff with the town tune feature. In New Leaf, the town tune plays whenever the clock bell rings, when you talk to a villager, and when you enter a building.
  • Regional Bonus: A few holidays are actually specific to different versions of New Leaf. They can be accessed in other versions via Socialization Bonus though. Some of the items obtained on these days are available through the campground, albeit at random.
    • The NTSC version has Groundhog Day (February 2), Earth Day (April 22), Labor Day (the first Monday in September), and Explorer's Day (the second Monday of October).
    • The PAL version has Naughty or Nice Day (December 6).
    • The Japanese version has the Bean Throwing Festival (February 3), Girl's Day (March 3), Children's Day (May 5), Starcrossed Day (July 7), and Obon (August 15 or 16, depending on the year).
    • The Korean version has the lunar new year (late January to early February, year dependent), Daeboreum (the 15th day of the first lunar month), Arbor Day (April 5), and Teachers' Day (May 15).
    • Additionally, each region has unique dates for Weeding Day, Father's and Mother's Day (which, in Korea, is just a singular Parents' Day), and unique presents for the Harvest Moon (the first full moon of autumn) and New Year's Eve (December 31).
  • Replacement Goldfish: This can occur with villagers that move in and out of your town. In New Leaf, the game tries to maintain a mix of all the villager types while cycling out older villagers for newer ones. If a villager of a certain type moves out, the next random move-in will never be the same type as the villager who moved out (unless he or she was invited from the campsite, StreetPass, or another player's town).
  • Retcon: Some of the older villagers in the previous games had their personalities changed to the new Smug and Uchi personalities in New Leaf.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: New Leaf has the Welcome amiibo update, which allows amiibo cards and figures to be scanned in for items and even exclusive villagers.
  • Save Scumming:
    • Mr. Resetti was made an optional feature, resetting the game the first time will prompt him to appear and suggest the Reset Center as a Public Works Project (so you actually need to do this once to get it).
    • There's a form of save scumming known as "The Villager Reset Trick". On a day you think a villager will move in to set up a plot of land, you need to create a new save file (loading an old one will make the game save and lock the location, which may not be ideal). Once you've gone through making a new player character, you can scout around to see if they've set up their plot in a location you like. If they didn't, reset and make a new save file. If they chose a location that you like, you can set up your house location and save the game from there. Then you can delete the save file and the villager will move into the right spot. Of course, there will now be a bare spot...
  • Self-Deprecation: In New Leaf, Normal villagers visiting your home may talk about how they've been "playing this one game where you run your own town but also have to keep all these needy animals happy."
  • Sizable Snowflakes: Once you build a Snowmam, she will ask you to gather oversized snowflakes with a bug net and bring them to her, as she collects them. They emit a glistening sound when coming near them and hover aimlessly above the ground.
  • Tech Tree: New Leaf introduces a similar concept in that certain public works or buildings can only be obtained if an existing building has been upgraded to the required level, which usually requires certain criteria to be met. For example, to get The Roost, you need to have your museum upgraded to have a second floor. And for that to happen, you must have met the game's criteria of submitting a certain number of specimens (with at least one in each category).
  • Villain Decay: New Leaf's Welcome amiibo update allows players to add Ganon to their towns by scanning a Ganondorf or 8-bit Link amiibo. In this game, he's a villager with a Cranky personality instead of being the ultimate evil he is in his home series, despite what the game says when you visit his RV.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: All clothes are equally available for any gender, as skirts, dresses, pants, shirts, and shoes are treated as different kinds of items rather than altering clothing based on gender. So it's possible to start a game as one gender and eventually work your way to the point where the only way to tell the character's true gender is to look at their face (which even then, may not help, as some faces are gender-neutral, and you are able to cover them up with a mask), or the color of their ID card (Pink Girl, Blue Boy, naturally). The character's running animation is based what clothes you wear, so if a boy is wearing a dress, they'll still do a Girly Run, and if a girl is wearing a shirt, they'll run like a boy villager.
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