Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
Animal Crossing: New Leaf Game Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Cute town sim about friendship and spending virtual money.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 50 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to be good citizen in a virtual town. They are encouraged to be a polite and friendly neighbor, dispose of trash and pick up weeds, and settle their loans in a timely manner. In addition, this game allows kids to become the mayor of their town, which exposes them to concepts like public works projects and the declaration of city ordinances. By playing this simulation about becoming a citizen of a town, kids learn about friendship, government, and how to manage their time and money efficiently.

Positive Messages

This is a video game about socializing with friends, helping to make the town a better place, and learning skills like money and time management. A key aspect of the game is shopping at the local town store. Players are encouraged to spend their in-game money on the newest and fanciest decorations for their virtual home. However, players never need to spend real money to buy any of these items.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There is a direct role model in the game -- the mayor. Players can actually aspire to become the mayor of their virtual town themselves, and live up to the reputation of the franchise's long-running town figurehead. Virtually every character in the game also exudes positivity, with qualities like generosity, friendliness, and helpfulness expressed in their every interaction.

Ease of Play

It's very easy to grasp the controls and the concept of this game. This is a title that isn't about busting your brain or solving puzzles or mastering difficult control mechanisms. Instead, it taps into the other side of the brain that fosters creativity and relationship-building. There are a few aspects of the game, like trying to catch fish, that require traditional video game-playing dexterity, but for the most part, this is a very casual game designed to appeal to all players. Difficulty is not an issue.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Animal Crossing: New Leaf gives players the opportunity to live in a virtual world filled with colorful, friendly animals. Players will work their way from being the new town resident with barely any money to a well-liked citizen with a fancy house, and might even become mayor of the town. There is an option to connect online, which allows players to visit the towns of other players, and vice versa, but this option can be disabled, and can also be limited so that players can only interact with their trusted friends. The online option allows players to chat with each other using text; but there is a filter that prevents inappropriate words from being exchanged. As with all 3DS games, Nintendo recommends that children under 7 only play the game in 2D, as the 3D effect could damage developing eyesight. Parents can turn off the ability to play in 3D by using the device's parental controls.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTessa C June 19, 2020

Charming and Harmless, Who Doesn't Love Animal Crossing

The is the most innocent and harmless video game you can buy for a kid besides like a Dora one or something. Everyone loves animal crossing, it entertains anyon... Continue reading
Parent Written byHeather M. July 9, 2019
Teen, 13 years old Written byHappyMaskSalesman June 27, 2013

Defenitely one of the best Animal Crossings

The description on this site is WAY off. The game isn't about "friendship" or "spending virtual money." They make it sound like it... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMadelineMini November 8, 2014

My Favorite 3DS Game!

This game is amazing and great for any age! Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a life sim where you move to a town and become the new mayor. You can customize everyth... Continue reading

What's it about?

ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW LEAF won't really surprise anyone who has any knowledge of the Animal Crossing franchise. The same core aspects are still here -- build a house from the ground up, earn virtual money, and become the coolest person in your town. As to be expected, though, there are some neat new twists that reinvigorate this franchise. For example, players can opt to become their town's mayor, which gives them unprecedented control of the town, like dictating when stores are allowed to be open and deciding where to build new bridges and fountains. There is also an island players can travel to in order to play mini-games and win prizes.

Is it any good?

Animal Crossing: New Leaf does exactly what it should, exactly what anyone would expect it to do. It keeps the winning formula of letting you become a citizen in a cute and adorable town and creates an interesting and well-balanced simulation about living and participating in small town life. This is the same theme that has been around since the original Animal Crossing game, but New Leaf adds just enough new content and new interactions to appeal to the existing and very loyal fan base.

Does it break exceptionally new ground? No. Does it provide a compelling reason for people who have never had interest in Animal Crossing to give this game a closer look? Not really. For those who are already hooked on the franchise, does it add enough flair to justify buying a brand new Animal Crossing title? You bet it does. This fun and gentle simulation game is a great way for kids to explore a world filled with cute characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of setting video game limits. With a game as engrossing as this, you may want to set up rules for how long kids can play and at what times.

  • How different are the characters in the game from the people you interact with in real life? What do you think a real town would be like if all the residents acted like the characters in the game?

  • Does this game make you want to go outside and participate in gardening, fishing, etc., in the real world? Why or why not?

Game details

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Themes & Topics

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