11 Video Games Just as Good as 'Animal Crossing' to Help You Pass the Time

Ever since Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released for the Nintendo Switch a few weeks ago, it's all I've seen people talking about online. All my friends playing the game can't stop gushing about how good it is, and that has piqued my interest. I’m a gamer and I’ve played older versions of Animal Crossing before—customizing my character, shaking trees, paying my bills to Mr. Tom Nook himself, and getting stung by bees along the way. The thing I have always loved about the game is how much of an open world it is, where you can run around and explore, letting the calming music provide an escape from reality.

Just in case you may not know it, there are other games out there that are just as good as the new Animal Crossing. With COVID-19 keeping us all in the house, here are a few games you should try out to help pass the time inside. 

Super Mario Party (Nintendo Switch)

If you have the Switch already, you’re all set to play this game. Like Animal Crossing, Super Mario Party is centered on characters you know and love. This game can cause big drama over one bad roll, but it usually leaves the room full of smiles, laughter, and lots of mindless screaming. Plus, this is a game you can play alongside friends and family, whether you’re quarantined with them or not. You could play by yourself, but I think it's more fun with a group. 

Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo Switch)

I just had to include this game because if I had a Switch with me, I’d be playing every day. As a child and even today, this is one game where I can play for hours and hours. In Mario Kart 8 you can either race your friends or bots in creative courses that bring back all the childhood memories. The game consists of “Grand Prix” competitions where you race laps and compete to be in the top three players. From there, you unlock prizes like new characters or karts to ride in. 

The Sims 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mobile)

The Sims is similar to Animal Crossing in that you can both customize how people look and control everything that happens in your universe. While it is a single player game, you can create as many characters as you want. Gamers have created character versions of themselves, celebrities, and really any person possible in Sims. Also, this game canonically has fun cheats where you can give yourself loads of money, which is the vibe everyone needs right now. It is definitely a game you should at least play once in your life.

1-2-Switch (Nintendo Switch)

1-2-Switch is a fun series of mini-games to play with your quarantine buddies when you need a good laugh—without having to play cards for the tenth time that day. This pack has activities ranging from ping pong to dancing, to wild west shootouts and wizard battles. I remember playing the Gorilla game with my friend in college constantly, and we always had a good laugh while looking weird.

Pokémon Sword and Shield (Nintendo Switch)

Pokémon has always been a big hit in the gaming community like how Animal Crossing is right now, because it gives players a vast open world to explore—the only difference being that instead of catching fish, you catch Pokémon. Pokémon is a game providing hours of addicting entertainment to try and catch them all, and it has an exciting story accompaniment too, which provides a bit more structure. Level up your Pokémon, battle fellow trainers and gym leaders, and explore the world according to your preference. 

Fez (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360)

Fez is one of my favorite games on this list. You play as a character named Gomez who receives a "fez" that makes his two-dimensional world into one that's three-dimensional. You have to collect fragments of cubes to form a complete cube, which is an item that is used to bring peace to the universe. When playing this game, I feel completely relaxed navigating the levels because Gomez and the whole concept is adorable.  

Little Big Planet 3 (PS4, PS3)

Little Big Planet has captured gamers' attention with its creative and open world, just like Animal Crossing. You can customize your character as you explore planet Bunkum, using your own imagination to set the scene. This is an extremely popular PlayStation exclusive, and it's perfect to pick up during this time especially if you’ve been neglecting your PS4 lately. 

Castaway Paradise (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mobile)

For all other platforms that aren't the Nintendo Switch, Castaway Paradise is the closest game you can get to Animal Crossing. The only difference is that this takes place on an island, Castaway Paradise, instead of the game allowing you to create your own. The goal is to help rebuild the island after a storm destroyed it. Instead of Tom Nook acting as your guide, a pig named Viktoria, who is the mayor of Castaway, guides you. This is yet another fun world to get lost in during quarantine.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)

Breath of the Wild is a marvelous game that has won awards for its serene beauty and iconic soundtrack. You play as a character named Link, who is on yet another adventure to try and defeat Ganondorf and save the kingdom of Hyrule. The art in this game is absolutely stunning, and the animation is completely breathtaking no matter where you look on the screen. This game is an open-world format like Animal Crossing, but includes a lot of interaction and dialogue with key characters in the story. Gamers are absolutely in love with this series, and you will be too. 

Kingdom Hearts III (PS4, Xbox One)

One of the most anticipated game releases of all time was Kingdom Hearts III, which debuted last year. People were begging for its creation for years before this installment in the series finally came out. This game is a must-play if you love all things Disney, because it features iconic characters like Elsa, Woody, Buzz, Goofy, Donald Duck and many more. Overall the gaming experience is nostalgic and adventurous, as the plot lets you travel through Disney-inspired settings while your character, Sora, advances in the story. 

Stardew Valley (PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Mobile)

Stardew Valley is like an 8-bit version of Farmville. The game starts with you inheriting an unkempt farm years after your grandfather dies. From there, you are able to build relationships and care for your new garden as you see fit. Stardew Valley is a game you could play for hours, just trying to keep up with care for your crops and exploring the lands around you.

While Animal Crossing is obviously worth the hype, I encourage you to try out some other fun games too, and explore worlds you might not normally have the time for. We’re going through some difficult times right now, and there’s nothing better than exploring an interactive story and experiencing a joyful escape.