Many good games were published for Nintendo's GameCube. Not only the famous game Pikmin was created for it, but an also well known game was published in the west for the first time: Animal Crossing. I'd like to seperate the Animal Crossing games into three generations: In the beginning there was Animal Crossing for GameCube. Then Animal Crossing: Wild World with expanded gameplay was published on the Wii. The third generation started a few weeks ago with Animal Crossing: Jump Out, in USA subtitled with 'New Leaf', but we will stay with 'Jump Out' since this is the japanese title we're reviewing.
There are people out there who still don't know what Animal Crossing is about, although the series sold better than some of the Super Mario games. You, the player, live in a village with some animal friends which are also able to speak, have emotions and walk on two legs just like humans. There's no goal in this game. You try to get in contact with your neighbors, expand your own house, find rare decoration items, catch some fish, dig up fossils and so on. In Jump Out this concept of playing was expanded again.
You start the game in a train, where a cat starts talking to you and asks you some questions. What's your gender, in what mood are you and where do you want to go? Through these questions the appearance of your character will be chosen. Then you can choose, how your city is going to look from different maps. After you finally arrived you will be greeted by every citizen of your city. Of course, because they want to greet their new major which is, in fact, you from now on.
Your new assistant leads you to the city hall and introduces you to Tom Nook, a raccoon and shop keeper. This time he owns a decoration shop. Together you search for a place to build your new house on. That's what you have in mind but sadly you are broke and have to set up a tent for the time being. After you get used to your situation you go to the city hall again to celebrate your arrival together with your citizens. Welcome to the world of Animal Crossen: Jump Out!
From now on you have the opportunities to walk through the city, talk to your citizens, shake fruits (or bees...) down from trees and sell these to the nephew of Tom Nook for a few Bells (that's what the currency in Animal Crossing is called), who owns a little shop. You can buy a fishing rot, a shovel and a brailer here with which you are able to catch fish, all kinds of insects and fossils. You can donate what you catch to the museum of your town to look at it again at any time, or you can sell them for more or less Bells.
A new feature in Jump Out is a Recycling Shop which is owned by two alpacas. There you can display your own furniture which can be acquired by other players. But it also works the other way around, so you can also buy furniture from other players. You can sell stuff there, too, and you even get more Bells than at Mini Nook's shop sometimes. Furthermore you are able to modify your furniture like changing the color for example.
But the life of a major is not always a carefree one. Your citizens have whishes they tell you about through conversations. For example, some animals want a new bridge or a fountain. That's not that big of a problem since you can go to your assistant in the city hall and request such things. This is called Feature Community Project and offers you a lot of options to chose from. There are policestations, camping sites, lanterns, signs, fountains, light houses and much more.
The bigger problem is: They are extremely expensive. A new bridge (there are different versions) costs about 128.000 Bells, a police station a quarter million. And you don't want to live in a tent forever, right? But this costs money, too. That means you have to fish, catch and collect as much as you can. The easiest way to make a lot of money is your native fruit. This could be apples, oranges, peaches, cherries or pears. If you travel to a friend's city (we will get to that later), you are able to collect foreign fruits and plant them in your city. You can sell these fruits for much more money.
Furthermore there is a true paradise to make money: the island! After a while you are able to travel to an exotic island which is owned by the former major Tortimer. Once you arrive you are able to catch the rearest kinds of insects, fishes and sharks. By selling these you can easily earn a lot of Bells. They also appear pretty often. There are also new and rare fruits which are worth a lot of money. And you are able to swim for the first time. For doing that you have to wear a green swimsuit and in the sea you can catch things like shells and lobsters.
You can also play several minigames on the island. To play these, you have to travel to smaller islands. Then you have to catch a certain amount of fishes or insects or you have to shoot ballons, for example. There are also more challenging missions, like putting fossils into the right position. For successfully finishing a mission, you get Islandcoins, which you can trade in for special pieces of clothing, like a bathing suit, which you can use to swim in the ocean at your town. So you see, playing those minigames is worth the work.
All shops, aside from the Recycling Shop, and the museum are in an outer area, which is behind the railroad crossing. In the beginning, you will only have the Aunt Nook-Store, the Clothing-Store, the Furniture Store, the Post Office and the museum. Later on in the game, you will also get access to a Flower Shop, a Shoe Store, a Discotheque and the StreetPass Plaza. Especially the last one we should talk about more. You can get special houses from other players via StreetPass, visit those and even buy their furniture. It's also possible to upgrade certain buildings in the city. For example, the Nook-Store will reach a Super Nook-Level at a certain point and even the museum can be enhanced (for a lot of money). Another new feature is the Dreamhouse. You can visit other peoples cities, but only if you got their city-code. But you can also let the game drop you in a random place, which is pretty cool.
Let's talk about the heart of the game: the multiplayer-mode. It's possible to visit another persons city via local gaming or over the internet. Up to four people can stay in a players city. You can go fishing, hunt insects, plant trees, steal fruits, do some sightseeing in the museum, go shopping or just brag about your awesome city. All of that doesn't sound that existing, but it's a really neat feature. The sad thing is that you can only send messages, voice chat is not supported. So something like Skype is a must, you will have much more fun with that. If you've favorited your best friend, you can write him, even though you're not in the same city.
A little bir of information before I come to a conclusion: The amount of different furniture, fish, insects and fossils has been greatly increased. You can also buy several Nintendo-related things like a Blue Falcon or an 1Up-Mushroom. Also some Zelda- and Pikmin-Items are available.
Animal Crossing: Jump Out is way better than its predecessor. The amount of collectable items has been increased greatly, the island with the minigames is a wonderful new place and the new chararacters are nice. I didn't talk much about the graphics and the soundtrack, because those fit in perfectly. Both are just over the top and the 3D effect is really good, even though not that outstanding. The motivation to play for a long period of time has never been greater. The community projects play a big role in that part. Those are really expensive, but thanks to the island you can earn money in a fast way. While you could only design your own house in earlier games, you can now change things in the whole town. And there's also this, and this, and not to forget about... well, I guess you get the point: There is so much in this game and that's why I give it our highest score possible. Every Animal Crossing-Fan will spend hundreds of hours with this game without getting bored. And I don't think you can give a better compliment to a game like this.
Author: Niels Uphaus
Translator: Eric Sohr