Describing Animal Crossing is like trying to describe the basic concept of time to a child, it is difficult to qualify. How long is an hour? How long is in a little bit? With Animal Crossing, you get a lot of "Well, you see, you go around the town and hit rocks with your shovel."

You can go on and talk about fishing and beetle hunting and how eventually you'll get to go to an island, but the person you're having the conversation with will either give you a quizzical look (if they are polite) or they will scoff at how you spend your time. For so long, I was a scoffer. I just didn't get it. The game's previous three releases slipped from my radar without remorse. Animal Crossing: New Leaf would have been the same way if I didn't have a trusted gamer tell me to just try it.

                It turned out to be really good advice.

                The only way to describe the game is to describe how I spend my time: I wake up in the morning, and right after I shower, I curl back into bed, boot up the game and water my flowers while also digging up dinosaur bones randomly buried throughout the town that I am the new mayor of. The last three weeks I've also been coming home from work and flopping down on my futon for another twenty-minute session because I am Petaltail Dragonfly hunting, and the jerk only comes out between 5-7 p.m. I even open the game back up right before bed, just to check on things and maybe do some night fishing.

                I've put near 100 hours into New Leaf, and what's surprised me the most is the evolution of my obsessions.


Obsession 1:  Planting trees and collecting Nintendo goods.


Obsession 2:  Collecting high-bell, large beetles.


Obsession 3:  Expanding and decorating my house with beetle money.


Obsession 4:  Gardening. I did not pay attention to my flowers in the beginning, but now I flip my s*@t if I don't get to water my garden that day.


Obsession 5: Finding my inner completionest.


                I should note that I have never collected everything in a game in my life (I am close to finding all the treasures in Uncharted 2 and I might have collected every upgrade material in Final Fantasy VIII, maybe). But in New Leaf, I have become an avid completer. As of this writing, I have collected all the dino bones, and I am missing 5 bugs, 5 diving creatures and 17 fish. But the majority of what is remaining are later seasonal the getting has been good in my town.

                My biggest dilemma right now is when am I going to put this game down? I've soaked in nearly everything the game has to offer. I mean, I have to stick around until December when the Pond Smelt, Sea Butterfly and Stringfish become available.  But then I worry about my flowers. How can I sit idly by while my beautiful gardens wilt and die.

                This review might sound like New Leaf filled me with heaps of anxiety, but it is honestly the opposite. I have never played a more relaxing game. I can talk about compulsive flower watering and bug catching, but the game is much better than the sum of its parts. The whole experience is as consuming as it is rewarding. I have Donkey Kong Country, Radiant Historia and Ocarina of Time all sitting at my nightstand right now, but I keep coming back to Animal Crossing. Because after a long day, searching for fish-shaped shadows in the river and shaking trees is all I want to do.