Animal Crossing: More than Just a Game

Animal Crossing New Horizons has taken the lockdown world by storm with its escapism to a tropical island where you can (literally) craft a new life for yourself. 

 

As a player of the game since its DS Lite days, my heart would break as daily, it seemed, people I followed on social media were buying it. I know there are bigger problems in the world right now, but I did feel betrayed by Nintendo for not making the game accessible on their older consoles – especially as I even had the not so good Wii version. I didn’t have a Switch as the hefty price tag seemed a bit frivolous. But then, once I’d finally convinced myself that it would be a worthwhile purchase, it was sold out. Everywhere

 

Until one day, rather miraculously, I stumbled onto the Argos website and… All colours of the Switch Lite were restocked, and, the physical copy of the game was available for delivery. Yes please!

 

What I’ve always loved about Animal Crossing is how real it feels (hear me out...). You can have what feels like to me, actual conversations with the animals who inhabit your island, who each have their own personalities. The seasons change as the real ones do and on New Horizons, the sense of reality goes even further... There’s thousands of fashion options – I think my AC self makes more of an effort with her appearance than I do. You can change up your hair instantly. Gone are the days of waiting to unlock the hair salon and having to spend your precious Bells on an unpredictable hairstyle.

 

There’s also a growing community on social media, full of custom designs for outfits, paths and so much more. It’s almost too easy to spend hours looking for design codes to increase your island’s star rating. You can also visit other people’s islands from across the world via the online Switch service, meaning you can visit friends and make new ones – not to mention, you can stock up on exotic fruit. I’m still on the hunt for peaches...

 

I think that’s what’s making the game so popular. At a time where we can’t do the usual things we often take for granted, like meeting loved ones, getting a haircut or going on holiday, the game allows for a simulation of this. When the real world seems unbearable, the small world you can create for yourself in the game is a welcome distraction (maybe a little too much – I may have forgotten I’m still technically at university!). Nook’s Cranny restocks with new furniture, fossils are buried in different places and there’s always plenty of fish and bugs to catch, so spending my morning catching up on my island life has become part of my daily routine. The changes that each day on the island brings is also helping me differentiate the actual days from each other, because time does seem to have stood still over the past however many weeks lockdown has been.

 

My favourite new feature? The activities that your islanders get up to – from working out on the plaza to eating fruit under a tree, it’s really like they’re existing amongst you, waiting for you to pick up your Switch and carry on playing. 

 

At a time where my anxiety has been all over the place, the game is an ideal and reassuring escape into a new, but familiar world.