I feel like I have an unpopular opinion, especially among the Nintendo faithful, but so be it.

I like Disney Magical World better than Animal Crossing, including the newest version, New Leaf, for the Nintendo 3DS.

Of course, at first look, many were eager to dismiss Disney Magical World, out now for the Nintendo 3DS, as a ripoff of Nintendo’s popular life simulator. You can certainly see similarities just by looking at screenshots. They’re both cute, slower-paced games featuring activities like fishing, gardening, and dressing, but I just like Disney Magical World’s take better for a few reasons.

But most of all, Disney Magical World is just more of a game than Animal Crossing is.

Mickey's happy you bought some of his merchandise.

Above: Mickey’s happy you bought some of his merchandise.

Image Credit: Disney

Sticker star

I get why Animal Crossing’s simple, stress-free gameplay attracts so many fans. In an age where objectives, timers, and waves of enemies to kill constantly bombard players, people enjoy the freedom to just do what they want, even if their choices only include the mundane activities of normal life.

But personally, I like games. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes from progressing through digital challenges. And Disney Magical World actually has a progression system. Doing certain tasks earns you stickers. Stickers unlock more content. It’s the incentive that gamers crave. And what’s great is that you can earn stickers in lots of different ways, like through fishing, doing quests, or crafting new items. Stickers are like achievements or trophies that are actually worth something.

And like I just said, Magical World has crafting. While you can’t do much with items in Animal Crossing besides hoard or sell them, all of the flowers, plants, and materials you collect in Magical World can turn into clothes, furniture, and other items. Again, especially as a lover of role-playing games, crafting hits just the right itch in my gamer skin. I enjoy hunting for materials and working toward a specific goal, whether it’s creating a Donald Duck outfit for my avatar or making a new dish for my café.

My avatar has a similar Donald Duck outfit. Just manlier.

Above: My avatar has a similar Donald Duck outfit. Just manlier.

Image Credit: Disney

Your own Disney café

Oh, right. The café! It’s the one store in Disney Magical World that’s your responsibility. You’re in charge of decorating, dressing up the staff, and creating the menu items. It’s a customizable experience akin to decorating your house in Animal Crossing, except that this can actually earn you money. Again, it’s more like a game.

Plus, decorating a lot in certain themes can bring more Disney characters to your café. For example, putting up a lot of Hawaiian decor will attract the mischievous Stitch, who will then happily pose for a picture. And if that doesn’t sound awesome to you, we can’t be friends.

I guess that’s another big part of why I love Magical World. I’m a Disney freak. It’s one of my favorite things right after gaming. So I get a bit excited when I can shop in a department store run by Scrooge McDuck. Seriously, the hell with Tom Nook. I’d rather buy from the world’s richest duck any day.

Disney characters love taking pictures with you.

Above: Disney characters love taking pictures with you.

Image Credit: Disney


The only thing better than a Disney game is a Disney crossover game, and Magical World features plenty of recognizable characters and locales. You can visit different worlds from the hub, all of which have their own series of quests to complete. A lot of them involve battling ghosts, which you fight with a magic wand.

Yes, Magical World has combat. I know that Animal Crossing fans are probably rolling their eyes right now. Again, sue me, but I like that stuff, and even having simple action like this does a lot to keep me engaged. I enjoy a pleasant bit of fishing as much as anyone, but I also enjoy shooting things every now and then, even if it is with a magic wand. And don’t act like you don’t! I know how many shooters you’ve played. I’ve seen your Steam library. Don’t ask how. It’s cool.

OK, I said the action is simple, but ghost-hunting is more fun than you’d think. You can charge up attacks à la Mega Man, you can pull off some quick maneuvering with a dodge button, and the quests always reward you with lots of items when you beat them, which is great for people who don’t want to scavenge the world for every little crafting material.

Busting makes me feel good.

Above: Busting makes me feel good.

Image Credit: Disney

I simply have more to do in Magical World than I did in Animal Crossing. Sure, I miss some features, like designing my own clothes and digging up artifacts for the museum, but I happily trade them for the sense of progression I get. Yeah, Animal Crossing sort of has that in the form of upgrading your house, but Magical World lets you unlock new content by doing any number of activities to unlock stickers.

Also, I never have to worry about not playing for a month, coming back, and then finding out that all of my neighbors have either moved or hate me for abandoning them. I’d rather just take more pictures with Donald Duck.