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Animal Crossing New Leaf guide: 30 tips for becoming the happiest mayor

By Chris Scullion on Tuesday 18th Jun 2013 at 2:20 PM UTC

Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released last Friday and it's brilliant (you can read our review here), but for many the first few days are filled with aimless wandering around and wondering what's going on, especially if you're new to the series.

Why is my high street so empty? How do I make money? How can I get a wet suit? Why do bees keep stinging me? Is this really all there is to it?

With these questions in mind we've put together 30 handy tips to keep you on the right track as you begin your Animal Crossing adventure. We'll start with the basics and move on to more detailed advice. Oh, and just one more warning: this game is deceptively massive, as you'll soon see.


1) Don't run if you can help it

It's all too tempting to tape the B button down and leg it round your town at all times, but running has some drawbacks.

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If you run near rivers or trees you're likely to scare away any fish or bugs before you can get close enough to catch them. More importantly, the more you run, the more the grass in your town wears away.

When this happens, the only way you can grow it back is by planting trees or flowers in the barren areas, and growing grass this way can take an extremely long time.

We recommend making paths fairly early on and running across those, since it doesn't affect the grass underneath. Here's a brilliant selection of paths you can add once you unlock the QR code reading feature. More on that in a bit.


2) Learn the daily routine

Every day there are certain things that happen without fail, so be sure to put some time aside each day to sweep through town and take care of them.

First of all, you should water all the flowers in your town to make sure they don't dry up. We've put all our flowers in one area to make this job easier. Then, start shaking trees. As well as the random chance of a coin falling out, each day five trees contain a beehive (not necessarily a bad thing, but we'll get to that) and two trees contain a random piece of furniture.

Also keep an eye out for cracks in the ground - use your shovel to dig them out because there are around five randomly dotted around every day and usually they contain fossils for the museum. Finally, each day one rock will contain Bells and another breakable rock is added containing a gem. Time to explain this in more detail...

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3) Get goodies from rocks

Every day a random rock in your town will spit out Bells when you hit it with your shovel. Once you hit it and the first coin comes out, you then have a limited time to hit it again, much like a multiple coin block in a Super Mario Bros game. Every time one appears it's worth more Bells, up to a total of eight times for 16,100 Bells.

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If you're not very good at lining up your strikes (every time you hit the rock the recoil forces you back), stand in front of the rock and dig a hole right behind you (or three, if you're really bad at lining them up). Then, when you hit the rock, you won't recoil because the hole blocks you.

As well as the random Bell rock, each day a new rock is added to your town containing a gemstone. When you hit this rock with your shovel it'll shatter, leaving the gem behind. These can either be sold for a few thousand Bells at the Re-Tail shop, or given to Cyrus at Re-Tail (the one who should still be sleeping at this point in your game) along with a piece of customisable furniture so he can make you gem-coloured furniture.


4) Take everything new to the museum

This may seem like an obvious one to Animal Crossing veterans but it's something many people forget to do in the early stages of the game, especially those new to Animal Crossing.

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Every time you catch a brand new species, take it to the museum and donate it, no matter how rare and valuable it is. You can tell it's a brand new species because your character will wonder out loud what their encyclopaedia says about it.

If you make sure to donate every new species as you catch it, it'll avoid annoying moments a year from now where you're comparing the museum exhibit list with your encyclopaedia to figure out what still needs to be donated. You can also unlock special tools and house designs if you donate a certain number of creatures.


5) Get a closet

You can decorate your house however you like, to the extent that you don't even need to have a bed in there if you don't want one (after all, you never need to sleep, you can just pause and choose 'Save and Exit' to end).

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Despite this, we do strongly recommend you put at least one closet in there. There are plenty of different styles, so you should eventually be able to find one that matches your house's vibe, but they're very important when it comes to storing stuff temporarily.

A closet can hold up to 180 extra items, making it easy to store different outfits depending on your mood, store extra furniture, or keep a hold of items you want to sell temporarily if Re-Tail is closed. Your closet is also linked to other storage lockers in the town (a bit like Resident Evil's item boxes), including the ones at the main gate and the ones on the second floor of the museum (once it's built).


6) Change shop hours with Ordinances

Once you get your mayoral powers (you should have them by now if you bought the game on launch day), you can build Public Works Projects and enact Ordinances (laws).

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You can only choose one Ordinance to be active at any time, but we recommend going with either the Early Bird or Night Owl ones, depending on when you play the game. The former opens all the shops three hours earlier than usual (they close at the same time), whereas the latter keeps them open for three hours longer.

Ordinances are useful, then, if your day starts with an early commute, or if you tend to play in bed at night.

Alternatively, the Beautiful Town ordinance is perfect for lazier types who still want a nice town, because it makes your fellow villagers water your plants for you and ensures you never get weeds or cockroaches.


7) Be patient, the High Street will evolve

If you bought the game on Friday chances are your High Street still looks a bit barren. Animal Crossing isn't designed for speed-running, just play the game as normal and everything will eventually improve.

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Each improvement is based on a number of set criteria. If you want to find out what's next, here's how to unlock each shop in the rough order they should appear. (If you want to discover each new addition for yourself, please ignore the text below and move onto the next tip).

  • T&T Mart: The Nookling Junction shop upgrades to T&T Mart after you upgrade your tent to a house and either spend 12,000 Bells or buy 15 items from Nookling Junction, whichever comes first.
  • Club LOL: A day after T&T Mart opens, Dr Shrunk will be seen wandering around your town. He'll ask you if he can build Club LOL, and give you a petition that requires six signatures from other villagers. Get the signatures and give the list to Dr Shrunk and he'll build the club.
  • Garden Shop: Once you perform 30 gardening tasks (watering flowers, planting trees or pulling weeds), Leif's Garden Shop will open. Here you can buy flowers, trees, axes and watering cans.
  • Kicks: This shoe shop (shoes are a first for Animal Crossing, incidentally) will open after you've been Mayor for 10 days and have spent 8000 Bells at the Able Sisters' shop. It takes an unusually long three days to build once the construction site goes up, so don't worry if it seems to be taking a while.
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  • Super T&T: Spend 25,000 Bells in total at T&T Mart and have both the T&T Mart and the Garden Shop in your town for ten days, and the Mart will upgrade to the bigger Super T&T shop.
  • Shampoodle: Once Kicks has appeared, spend another 7000 Bells in total at either Kicks or the Able Sisters' shop. Once you do that (and once Kicks has been open for more than a week), the door upstairs from the Able Sisters' shop will open and the Shampoodle salon will be open for business.
  • TIY: The fourth version of the Nooklings' shop appears when you spend 50,000 Bells in total at Super T&T and have it in your town for at least 21 days.
  • T&T Emporium: After TIY is built, Gracie will start showing up in the High Street every now and then. Impress her four times, spend 100,000 Bells in TIY and have TIY on the High Street for at least 30 days, and it'll finally become the massive multi-level Emporium, the biggest shop in the game.

8) Use the Catalogue

Once the Nookling Junction shop is upgraded to the T&T Mart, you'll have access to a catalogue service (the red ATM-looking machine in the corner). This is useful for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it's a helpful list of every piece of furniture, wall, floor, clothing, note paper, song, gyroid and fossil you've ever had in your possession. If you're an Animal Crossing completionist, the catalogue acts as your PokÚdex and will let you double-check to see if you've owned a particular item before buying it from a shop.

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Secondly, if you no longer have an item and you wish you had it back, or your friend's visited your town and really wants your Regal Couch, you can order anything in the catalogue at its standard cost and it'll be delivered to your mailbox the next day.

Not all items can be bought from the catalogue though (some rarer stuff and trophies are only there for reference, for example), so be sure to keep hold of these rarer goodies, or store them in your closet, because you may struggle to get them back.


9) The ABD machine isn't completely useless

The Post Office has an ABD (Automatic Bell Dispenser) cash machine in it where you can deposit Bells. At first glance this may seem like a waste of time since most of your Bells will either be going to Tom Nook for house upgrades or funding Public Works Projects, but it's still worth putting spare cash in there when you can because it pays off in the long run.

Every time your balance hits a certain milestone you'll be sent a rare and unique gift. Here's the list of what you get:

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  • 100,000 Bells - Tissue Box
  • 500,000 Bells - Letter Set
  • 1 million Bells - Piggy Bank
  • 5 million Bells - Aluminum Case
  • 10 million Bells - Post Office Poster
  • 20 million Bells - Safe
  • 50 million Bells - Deliveryman Cap
  • 100 million Bells - ATM

On top of this, you'll receive 0.5% interest on the first of every month, meaning if you eventually reach that 100 million balance you'll get 500,000 Bells for free at the start of every month. So you see, it's worth investing in the long run.


10) Don't trust Redd

Crazy Redd is a sneaky fox who pitches up a tent in your town square one day every week and sells four pieces of rare artwork.

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There are two catches - the first is that you can only buy one piece of artwork from him, and the second is that most of them are fake. If you get a real one you can take it to the museum and donate it (or sell it for loads of Bells), but if you get a fake one it's worthless.

You can spot fake ones because they have slight differences from the real-life works of art, but if you aren't much of an art fan here's a handy guide to spotting the fakes from the real thing.

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