Japanese gamers have been snatching up any spare copies of Animal Crossing: New Leaf at a feverish pace, buying more than 3 million copies of the game since launch in Japan (not including downloaded copies of the game). While Animal Crossing has always seen a warm reception from dedicated fans, a big draw in New Leaf is the player's new role as the mayor of his or her town.
As the mayor of Animal Crossing, players can dictate when shops in town open and close, where bridges are placed on the river running through town, and even pay for public works projects out of their own pocket. Co-director Aya Kyogoku explains that "the mayor raises funds for public works. The animals that live in town will contribute a little money, but every little request goes to the mayor, so you end up using a lot of pocket money."
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata asked the original Japanese developers about the transition from Mayor Tortimer to Mayor You:
Iwata: Do you think some players will feel a burden of responsibility when they are made the mayor?
Isao Moro (Co-Director): Ah, there's no need to worry! (laughs) Even if you don't fulfill your duties as the mayor, no one will complain.
Kyogoku: No one's going to say: "Come on, Mayor. Get your act together!"
Iwata: So you don't get an approval rating?
Moro: No, you don't.
Kyogoku: At first, there is one tiny hurdle to overcome, where you have to gather support from the town residents in order to begin work on contracting the town, but once you're past that, an easy-going life as mayor awaits! (laughs)
Iwata: Come to think of it, you'll always have the example of the previous mayor to compare yourself to, won't you? (laughs)
Kyogoku: That's right. (laughs) When you remember that you're taking over from Tortimer, well…
Koji Takahashi (Design Coordinator): … it makes things pretty relaxed! (laughs)
Seems like Iwata and company giggle more than we do on GameRevolution Radio every week! There are tons of details about how being the mayor plays out in-game, but you can read the full translated interview on Nintendo's website while I wait patiently for June 9th, the day New Leaf lands on US shores.