I have been playing Animal Crossing since 2005, when the second edition, Wild World, came out. The obsession came to my 6-year-old body immediately. There is no other game well-equipped for joy, escape, and connection as Animal Crossing. I have so many memories of making my friends play with me when they would come over to my house. I obviously had an extra Nintendo DS and two copies of Animal Crossings. So I have been anticipating this new launch, New Horizons, which came out March 20th.
It starts you off as the only human moving to a deserted island with extremely cute animals. You have no possessions or money, only a tent and three pieces of camping supplies provided from the game’s money hungry entrepreneur racoon Tom Nook – along with a debt to pay off. The main goal in this game, if there is one, is to fully upgrade your house and pay off your debt to Tom Nook for each upgrade. However you achieve this is up to you!
You are given recipes to craft tools with natural resources on your island. These tools consist of: Shovel, Fishing rod, Net, Axe, Slingshot and Watering can. Two new tools that were added to the latest edition are a pole vaulting stick and ladder. You can use these tools to catch fish and bugs to sell, dig up fossils, and plant fruit trees to eventually sell the fruit you harvest. Gathering then selling is how you grow your wealth in the game. Which eventually can be used to pay off your house, for new clothing items, and furniture.
Animal Crossing has always been an open-ended game, so once you are done figuring out how to craft tools, make money, and where to pay off your debt you are free to do everything at your own leisure. You should always make time for the other residents on your island, they are what make Animal Crossing so wholesome and lighthearted. When I heard about Animal Crossing: New Horizons I was mostly excited for the residents that will accompany me on my island. I should’ve known I wouldn’t get exactly what my mind was picturing when I first loaded the game, but I was hopeful for dogs, wolves, and cats. I landed on my island with a yellow bear cub with bright pink eyeshadow named Tammy, I was in love with her. When I first saw Stinky…I was worrisome. He was a lime green cat with a Nacho Libre mask and outfit on…definitely not my vibe. To my surprise after the first whole evening of playing, Stinky turned out to be the most positive, uplifting, health focused, cutest cat I’ve ever met in this game series. Every resident is just so nice to you that you will end up loving anyone who moves to your island. Lately, I have been really itching to collect kitchen items to make a kitchen area in my home. Stinky comes out of nowhere and says, “Hey I have something for you!” This guy gives me a whole kitchen station, which includes everything you can find in a kitchen! This was a classic tale of why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Again, you will end up falling in love with every resident!
This game runs in real time, if it is 4pm in the real world it will be 4pm on your island. That creates a slow progression day by day as your island grows. That slow, day to day life is part of the reason Animal Crossing is so beloved. The repetitive, satisfying tasks of digging up all four of the fossils that generate on your island everyday, harvesting fruit every three days, and catching new fish and bugs that occur when they do in the real world. For example, monarch butterflies occur on your island only in the summer months in real time. This makes collecting more fun and a little more motivating. If it’s August and you still haven’t caught a monarch, you develop this urge to keep playing until you do.
The multiplayer aspects to this new launch has its pros and cons. A pro is that you are allowed to have up to eight people on one island. But for big groups, it’s a bit tedious since you need everybody to join one by one or the connection will fail. Once everyone is on though you’re able to show off your island that you’ve made beautiful, all the fish, bugs, and fossils you’ve collected, and share the fruit your island grows to your friends who don’t have it on theirs yet. Another aspect people are not happy about is that, you can only have one island per console. It’s one island even if there are two accounts and two separate copies of the game. A family shouldn’t buy the game expecting to use one console and get their own island. And for now, at least, you can’t transfer your island from one console to another.
This game is perfect for dark times like now. COVID-19 has caused a “stay at home” order for many. A lot of us, including me, are stuck at home, unemployed, and/or have had their college classes moved to strictly online. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect at home escape from reality. I’m going to be playing my heart out to this game over through these hard times to bring myself some peace and joy. This game is a great mood booster, let’s you connect with your friends while social distancing correctly, and brings comfort from anything negative happening in your life. I highly recommend picking up a copy (digitally!) and diving deep into the happy, cute vibes that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.