Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS features a big change from previous titles like Animal Crossing: City Folk and Animal Crossing: Wild World. The player now starts the game by becoming mayor of their town instead of just owning a house there and paying off a mortgage. As mayor, some actions players can take include determining the layout of their town, setting shop hours, placing various structures and decorations outside (bridges, benches, roads, lampposts, etc.), creating designs for both clothes and furniture, altering the look of City Hall, and setting up exhibitions on the second floor of the museum. The mayor's secretary, Isabelle, a clumsy, absent-minded dog, is always available to help in the mayor's office.
Other features include the ability to mount furniture (i.e. clocks, picture frames, etc.) on the walls of the player's home, the ability to swim in the town's ocean, visit with multiple animals in a single house, and meet animals that follow or chase the player around the town.
During Nintendo's financial briefing in April 2012, Satoru Iwata hinted at Animal Crossing post-launch DLC to lengthen the game's lifespan. In October 2012, Iwata clarified that the game's DLC would be free of charge, describing the addition of paid DLC to a game like Animal Crossing as "unwholesome."
Animal Crossing: New Leaf released on November 8, 2012 in Japan, June 9, 2013 for North America, and June 14, 2013 for Europe.
In previous games, K.K. Slider would perform a song every Saturday night that the player could then listen to any time in his/her house. That tradition continues in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but now instead performs at the new comedy club Shisho's Club 444. Conversely, on nights other than Saturday night, players can find DJ K.K. spinning some tracks there, with "house nights" featuring remixed tunes from the NES. K.K. Slider now has unique album covers for the songs he plays, and these can be hung on the walls of the player's house.
Club LOL serves two purposes in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. During the day, players can visit Doctor Shrunk to obtain new emotions by giving him presents such as fruit. Players are no longer limited to only having four emotions. At night, players can go to Club LOL to dance to the music of DJ K.K.
New types of fruit can be harvested, as well as old favorites. Each town has one native fruit while all other fruits must be collected first through other means, such as picking them from friends' towns. Native fruit sells for 100 bells a piece, while non-native fruit sells for 500 bells a piece, which makes planting and harvesting foreign fruit an excellent system for income. Fruit can be harvested from each tree every three days.
New Leaf introduced the concept of "perfect" fruit, which is a rare variation of the standard fruits in the game. These perfect fruits sell for much more than their standard counterparts, and, if planted, a perfect tree will only produce fruit a limited number of times before dying.
Also new to New Leaf, fruits stack in the player's inventory. So, rather than only being able to put one fruit in each slot, the player can hold up to nine fruits in one slot.
Players can now travel to the Island of Endless Summer, where former Mayor Tortimer is relaxing, to partake in several mini-games. Players are carried there by motorboat, steered by Kapp'n. Upon arrival at the island, players receive a swimsuit, which allows them to swim in the ocean. Players can dive for coral, special shells, sea grapes, and other items that can't be caught with a traditional fishing pole. The island also houses summer fish and bugs all year long. Medals can be earned in co-op focused mini-games and then traded in for goods at the souvenir shop. One mini-game involves traversing through a labyrinthian maze to find a specific item. Other mini-games include challenges like hitting a moving machine a certain number of times with a hammer, diving with friends to find items at the bottom of the ocean, and picking flowers.
This is run by two alpacas named Reese and Cyrus. Players can sell items from your inventory to Reese, and she will also deal with putting items up for sale, which acts as a replacement for the Auction House in Animal Crossing: City Folk. Unlike the auction house though, items can be offered and bought anytime rather than on specific dates. The player and other villagers may purchase items on display; if a villager is inside the store, it is possible to influence them into making a purchase. The second part of the store is run by Cyrus, who customizes furniture. Players can substitute the fabric of a something by choosing from Cyrus' wares or from a player-created pattern, as well as change the color and style of the piece of furniture.
The player can choose between a 'classic' police station made from wood or a 'modern' police station which is the design from the other Animal Crossing entries. Booker works in the classic station, and Copper works in the modern.
Brewster now has his very own coffee shop instead of just a small cafe connected to the museum as in previous games. In addition to ordering drinks to sip on the premises, it is now also possible to order coffee to go. The player can also earn the option to work for Brewster to earn some extra Bells.
The models for animals and player characters have been redesigned and made taller to allow for more clothing options, such as pants, socks, and shoes. Players can continue to create their own clothing designs, which can now be shared via QR codes.
Using two Play Coins, players can purchase a fortune cookie once a day. The fortunes inside the cookies, which are numbered, can then be traded in for rare goods, which are Nintendo-themed. Some examples include an Arwing for your house and parts of Samus Aran's Power Suit to wear.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf features StreetPassing, as players will be able view the homes of other players they StreetPass with, as well as trade various items and share earned badges. Badges are awarded to players for completing specific tasks, such as catching a lot of fish, finding stuff from the ocean, and pulling up a lot of weeds.
You can view the homes of people you've StreetPassed with at the Happy Home Exhibition Street, and any item you like that you see can be purchased through mail order.
The Dream Suite allows the player to visit either a specific or random player's village. In this dream, the player is free to visit and interact with all aspects of the town but nothing is permanently saved.
The full list for North America is as follows. In addition, some countries have holidays unique to their version of the game, such as Sikmogil for South Korean players.
On July 20 2016, Nintendo announced that Animal Crossing: New Leaf would get a content update sometime in Fall 2016 adding amiibo support. All Animal Crossing-series amiibo (all available figures as well as amiibo cards) will be supported.
Players can summon villagers and invite them into their town by scanning their amiibo (card). This includes villagers previously not present in New Leaf. Other non-Animal Crossing amiibo will also be supported, such as Splatoon-series amiibo. More details to follow.
The digital version of Animal Crossing: New Leaf is downloadable for through the Nintendo 3DS eShop. The file size is 8,192 blocks (1 GB).
In all three regions (Japan, North America, Europe), Nintendo released a special edition 3DS XL bundle for New Leaf. The hardware came equipped with a 4GB SD card that had the game pre-installed.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf has sold 10.11 million copies worldwide as of June 30, 2016.