It's no mystery that I have been anticipating the newest Animal Crossing game because it is an Animal Crossing game which I am fond of. It's also no surprise that I have also been dreading the newest Animal Crossing game because it looks like the Animal Crossing games that we already have that, while I am fond of, I have played the hell out of and found that there are no more worlds to conquer in it, so to speak. The Animal Crossing games of the DS and Wii, the ones that New Leaf itself looks like almost to a T, are games that have no sustainability beyond a front-loaded glut of hardship. The various loans that you're saddled with, the need to make all your tools better and get established all hits right at the same time at the start and stands as a brick wall for you to chip away at very slowly.
The issue is that, once you have tunneled through the wall, made a hole through it, there is nothing new on the other end. You look behind you and see a blue sky, green grass and tall trees. You look in front of you and see a blue sky, green grass and tall trees. It is functionally a brick wall that surrounds nothing, protects nothing and only stands as something to be destroyed, circumvented, undermined. The wall exists not as an obstacle, but as an optional and that's really what a lot of Animal Crossing's problem is. The 'wall', so to speak, is more or less the narrative, the main 'quest' as it would be in other games, and other games manage just fine to have this thing, this main thing that can be ignored safely for time immemorial. Of course, those games traditionally have other things to do.
New Leaf, from what I can tell, seems to be heavily leaning on the whole "You are the Mayor" aspect which, I mean, is good. It really is. If nothing else, it allows you the ability to make all the shops open at night or whenever is convenient for you. Plus you get to move stuff around and mold the city in whatever image you desire. Presumably, there are other things involved with this that make it more than a very, very light town sim, because that....is really what it sounds like. I don't know if there's any way to upgrade things, to make new 'types' of buildings or anything of that sort, meaning it ends up a bit shallow. I hope at the very least that the residents have their own requests as to where they live, ala Dark Cloud, since at least you can meta-game that part of it. Still, I can't see how a lot of game -time- could actually be spent with the sim portion.
So, minus that, you basically have....Wild World/City Folk. The above video literally shows everything from both games (being that they were almost one in the same) to a T with only slight alterations. Seasons are very welcome, and I wonder if they'll be actually in tune with real-world seasons, or if it's sort of a variety thing so you can see snow in the game when it comes out this summer. I'd bet on the former, unfortunately. Beyond that, being able to swim is....not a big deal. A night club where you presumably don't do a lot more than you do on the nights KK Slider would play in the coffee house from WW/CF is hardly something to celebrate. Really, it all seems like token additions so far, and nothing really yells out that "Here! Here is the actual sequel with actual improvements and a bunch of stuff!", but instead that it's the same game, except with a few different things.
Either way, I'm pretty much stuck in -actually- buying the game when it comes out. It's one of the handful of titles that galvanized my purchase of a 3DS XL (well, I haven't bought it -yet-, still holding out for a better color) and even if it's not much different than Wild World, I'll have a whole timesink to start putting into it to break down that wall standing in the middle of a field. That is there for no reason. Which isn't necessarily as bad of a thing as I make it out to be, really. I just wish that there would have been something done with this game other than a very light sim element. But hey, maybe it will surprise me and be super deep and awesome. I would like that kind of shock. But I'm certainly not counting on it.