You create a digital version of yourself, and are soon whisked away to a small, untouched island on a “getaway package”. You will be tasked to make your own basic tools for harvesting wood, catching bugs and luring in fishes for donation purposes.
You spend your days shooting down random balloons for presents and finding new species of animals. Then selling off duplicates so you can earn in-game currency (Bells) to pay off the loan the head Raccoon, Tom Nook, has very kindly helped you with, interest free. You are presented with the option to play the high risk “stalk market” (geddit?) by buying Turnips from a little pig called Daisy Mae on Sunday mornings (mind you, she has a dribble of snort hanging off her snout!), storing them and then trying to flip them for profit through the week for higher prices, if you’re lucky.
Sounds like your kind of game? Apparently so, or at least for 22 million players and counting!
Animal Crossing is a game that’s been around for a long time. First introduced in April 2001 on GameCube, it has had 5 main games and 3 spin off titles in the last 19 years.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the newest spin-off to the Animal Crossing series and also the most successful one yet. Introduced for the Nintendo Switch system on 20 March 2020, it coincided with the lockdown or quarantine orders imposed by countries to fight the ever-developing coronavirus. It sold 13.4 million copies in the first 6 weeks alone, and has been hailed the best companion for people serving lockdown orders.
1. It is an island getaway that allows you to do whatever you want
Sure, the Animal Crossing game has a storyline and there are certain tasks to complete, but the fact that it has no deadline for the tasks allows you flexibility to do whatever you want, whenever you want to. Have stuff to craft? Forget about it. Go lure in some fishes or catch some bugs! Need to clear some weed? Nah, try your hand at breeding some hybrid flowers instead.
2. There is no need to get competitive
The game progression is largely dependent on you. You can get help in the form of currency and items from your friends or the online community but everything else like the interior design of your home and the island terraforming is up to the main character of the game – that’s you! Things from the colour and type of furniture used, to the 10 different villagers that reside on your island, are all up to you and no one else. It helps that there is no main goal and end to the game. Just do everything to your own liking and get your friends to come visit!
3. You get to connect with your friends or people from around the world
As long as you have a Nintendo Online account, you can connect to anyone else in the world. Visit your friends’ islands or lay down in bed to dream of a stranger’s island (you would need their dream code for that). You can visit them for inspiration, or to pick up shells, catch fish and participate in Bug Off events on specific days. You can also host your own games on your island and invite people over. User-created island games that are in trend nowadays are hide and seek, treasure hunt, musical chairs and hedge maze. There are also a ton of Facebook and Discord servers for you to hold giveaway events or ask for help from fellow players across the globe. Locally, there are also chat groups available on Telegram and WhatsApp.
4. You get to see different seasons, and experience different weather patterns
Animal Crossing is played in real time. What this means is that the seasons change accordingly with the real world. At the start of the game, you would be presented the choice to be in the Northern Hemisphere or Southern Hemisphere. Your seasons will then coincide with the countries present in each hemisphere. People who prefer Winter to be at the end of the year can choose to be in the Northern Hemisphere and people who would like Summer to be in December instead can choose to be in the Southern Hemisphere.
The four main seasons are Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. There are also special occasions like Easter week or Cherry Blossom week where you can catch or harvest seasonal materials and receive items and DIY recipes! June is also somehow wedding season in game and you can become a photographer for a sweet Llama couple to earn some Heart Gems. These will allow you to trade for wedding items to decorate your island. During winter, you can roll out one or two of your very own snowman.
5. Shooting Stars, a space owl called Celeste, and Auroras
Shooting stars occur quite frequently in the game, and when it does, a space owl called Celeste might also be roaming around. Celeste will present you with a Space DIY or crafting materials when you speak to her. You can wish upon the stars and star fragments will wash up on your beach the next day. Collect the fragments for trading or crafting purposes as you wish! Don’t have shooting stars on your island? Fret not! Travel to your friend’s island if she does and you would be able to wish upon the stars and speak to Celeste if she’s present. During winter, Auroras can happen on clear nights and is a real sight to behold.
6. Constant updates from Nintendo
In the 2 most recent major updates, Nintendo released the ability to dive for creatures, set up fireworks on Sunday nights and also dream of islands from all around the world. Dreaming allows you to visit an island when the owner is not online (he/she must have already updated his dream and given you his dream address code for you to do this). You can freely explore their island and the island owner would not need to be online to stop visitors from stealing dropped items or trample on their flowers.
In between these major updates, Nintendo also works hard to patch out glitches and user reported issues constantly. The constant updates also keep things interesting for the millions of players in the community.
Is the game pulling on your heartstrings yet? Get your own copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons from major gaming retailers today! Oh, did I mention that there is a Nintendo Switch: Animal Crossing edition? Just going to leave it out here: