Now let me start off my rant by saying both are good games. However, in my and others opinion, New Leaf is a good ANIMAL CROSSING game, while New Horizons is anything but. To explain my point, let’s start from the very beginning.
The idea of Animal Crossing first came about when it’s creator moved far away from his family to work his job, video games. During a time of isolation and loneliness due to being away from those he knew, the idea of a game with a focus on community came to mind. Now of course this is simply a dumbed down version of the story, but it gets the point across.
The release of Animal Crossing, or as it’s japanese name was, Dobutsu No Mori (i think), showed that a game perceived as being about nothing, could still be as fun as a game about everything. Animal Crossing was a simple game for everyone, young and old, easy to understand, and relaxing. But at the center of it all was the sense of a community. When you first enter your village, you essentially know no one. However, as time progresses, the villagers you meet become your friends and friendly relationships are formed.
This theme was explicitly present in the first 3 Animal Crossing games (Population: Growing, Wild World, & City Folk). However, after three games, the series was growing stale, and there needed to be a switch up, especially with the low sales of City Folk (relative to the Wii anyways). New Leaf comes in here, and brings innovation into the franchise. The game puts you in the hot seat, you make the decisions for your town as your the mayor. More on the game later.
After New Leaf, a ulmost 10 year hiatus takes place, until New Horizons, and it comes out in the perfect time, a global pandemic. The game is loved and hailed as the best in the franchise.
However, I am of the opinion the New Horizons is NOT the best, not by a long shot. Time for a numbered list…
Lack of Shops and Services: New Leaf has the largest amount of progression, with Main Street serving as a shop hub. New Horizons, especially on release, was empty. Able Sisters and Nooks Cranny with only one upgrade, along with the museum. A museum without the cafe or the art section. You know what New Leaf had on release? Museum, Fortune Teller, Nooks Homes, Club LOL, Dream Suite, Nookling Junction with 4 upgrades, Flower Shop, Able Sisters, Shampoodle, Kicks, Cafe, Re-Tail, and Police Station. Even with the 2.0 update, New Horizons is lacking, and waiting one year for a flower shop is just sad.
Update Model: New Leaf was a finished game on release, and then years later, got an update with TONS of new features. New Horizons was unfinished and it’s updates finished it. Basic things such as diving, art, and GYROIDS for crying out loud shouldnt be in an update, they should be part of the game from the start. 2.0 was the only somewhat fulfilling update, and just as fans were excited for the future, Nintendo pulled the plug.
Multiplayer (or lack thereoff sort of): Animal Crossing doesn’t have the best Multiplayer reputation, but New Leaf was the first to attempt something new. Not only does it have the timer for made up minigames, but a whole island is available just for minigames too. New Horizons, a game where the setting is a damn island, doesnt have Kapn’s island. Just sad, but not only is the multiplayer experience boring, THE LOADING TIMES are terrible for Multiplayer. I rather just hang with the villagers. But wait…
V I L L A G E R S : The villagers in this game are sad. In fairness, Animal Crossing games have been losing the sense of community since City Folk, and even New Leaf has this problem, but New Horizons takes it to the extreme. Most villagers are dull, uniteresting, and lacking in personality, as they are almost all the same and repeat the same dialogue constantly. Not only that, but they couldn’t even do basic things such as come over until much later, and also they can just randomly come over for no reason, which is arguably worse. New Horizons loses the sense of community from Animal Crossing entirely, and instead, villagers are sold on a market, and only the cutest villagers stay. They have no free will, and never will. Instead, New Horizons is a sandbox that sucks as a sandbox, because it can’t decide what it wants to be.
Both games have problems, but New Leaf’s pros greatly outway its cons. As previously stated, New Leaf is a good Animal Crossing game, and New Horizons unfortunately isn’t.
Thanks for reading,