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Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s new minigames harken back to the series’ past

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They’re not NES games, but they’ll do

Animal Crossing: New Leaf now has amiibo support, but its Welcome amiibo content update includes something for non-amiibo collectors too. There are two minigames available now as part of the wide-scale refresh for the three-year-old Nintendo 3DS game, and their introduction gives players a chance to play actual games inside of their Animal Crossing villages.

The minigames both take the form of puzzles, albeit in two starkly different ways. "Desert Island Escape" is a more comprehensive escape room-style adventure, where a group of villagers maneuver around a board in hopes of finding respite off a faraway island.

Meanwhile, "Puzzle League" — a take on Intelligent Systems' Puzzle League/Panel de Pon series — is a more straightforward block-matching game lorded over by ex-mayor Tortimer, albeit with animal neighbors thrown into the mix to help clear lines. This one does support amiibo, who can help clear the board faster.

"Desert Island Escape" is a meatier game, by far, and as such it requires a higher-powered console to play it — in New Leaf, that is. Players will have to find a tiny Wii U for their homes to access the game, while "Puzzle League" is a faux 3DS title. It seems unlikely that either title will be broken out as separate, downloadable games for the real life consoles they’re intended for, but even just as in-game bonuses, they’re Nintendo’s attempt at adding some longevity to New Leaf.

In that way, these tiny Wii U and 3DS "games" are reminiscent of the NES titles that players could unearth in the first Animal Crossing. Folks who have followed Animal Crossing since it launched stateside on the GameCube will remember that feature, which saw actual full versions of old-school Nintendo titles playable within the game. With Nintendo’s own retro push with its Virtual Console storefront, that feature has fallen by the wayside, never returning after the series’ GameCube entry.

New Leaf already has some minigames, albeit ones that don't require an in-game console to play them. There are short multiplayer island challenges available to play when visiting the tropical destination, but those are much shorter than these two puzzle games appear to be.

"Desert Island Escape" and "Puzzle League" are not in the same realm as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. Heck, with the update being so new, we’re not even sure yet if they’re any good. But their addition shows that Nintendo is willing to give village mayors a way to spend their downtime outside of napping, waitressing at the coffee shop and selling off their old wares.