So like most everyone on my Switch friends list, I have been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons because there is not really a whole lot to do right now outside of get punched at Wal-Mart over toilet paper (this is being written during the COVID-19 Pandemic for all you people in the future). And with all the stress that is going on and even normal stresses in every day life, sometimes you just need to relax. And one thing I use to relax is video games since it is a form of escapism. Though my games of choice usually involve shooting a guy with a gun until currency and more guns spew out of him, I rarely play games like Animal Crossing. Games where the goal is to do mundane things like plant crops, gather materials to build things, catch fish, things I can do in real life. And I have tried playing other games in Animal Crossing and found them to be just okay. However, New Horizons has fully captivated me.
Before we dive into the newest game, a brief history on the series. Animal Crossing started all the way back on the Nintendo 64 as an exclusive game for an add on peripheral for the console, the Nintendo 64 DD (Disc Drive or Didn’t Do-Very-Well-In-Sales). When the N64DD never made it outside of Japan, the game was then ported to the Gamecube for everyone to enjoy with some extra features, with the best one being unlockable NES games. And it was a massive success, being the 5th best selling game on the Gamecube with 3.15 million units sold and became one of Nintendo’s key franchises to come out of the GameCube era of games (which we established last week as being part of the best video game generation).
From there Animal Crossing has entries on the Nintendo DS, Wii and Nintendo 3DS. The latter, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, being a major turning point of the series. It was the best selling version, more than 13 million units, and for the time was the highest rated in the franchise. It introduced fan favorite character Isabelle and had you as the mayor of a town, allowing the player to make decisions of placement of buildings and the order that tasks should be completed. But every game has always introduced some new feature and built on the foundation of the previous installment. And all games I have found to be okay. As mentioned, I’m a rooty-tooty-aim-and-shooty type of gamer. So the Animal Crossing style of game never really appealed to me.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of my new favorite Nintendo Switch games because it takes what I normally dislike about Animal Crossing and streamlines some things to allow quicker access to additional features and events. For example, normally when you mined all your resources, you were pretty much done for the day. New Horizons fixes this in two major ways. First, you can buy tickets with Nook Miles (we’ll talk about this later) to visit deserted islands and mine for more resources. The other feature introduced in here and here alone because I refuse to acknowledge Pocket Camp as contributing anything of value to society, is DIY Crafting. Unlike before where you have to purchase everything from shops, players can actually craft items with the materials they collects in the game. These crafts can range from a simple bed to flooring that looks like beach sand. Actually having purpose in the items you find outside of building other buildings or selling is a huge plus in customizing your home.
Another great feature is online play. You can now have up to 7 other people running around your island on your friends list. And if you have the Nintendo Switch phone app, you can do voice chat with everyone. It is a simple feature that doesn’t make or break the game. But it adds an extra level of enjoyment by being able to play with friends and swap resources (like fruit even though most people on my friends list have cherries which is what I have native on my island). It is honestly just really fun running around an island with a group of friends, chatting about the day and relaxing. Nothing competitive, only having fun.
But my favorite new feature is the newest currency, Nook Miles. New Horizons still has Bells to collect, but now you can collect Nook Miles which you get for doing anything. It can be from digging up fossils, saying hi to people, eating fruit, catching a specific fish, having people over, fainting from getting stung by wasps or a tarantula and many other things. They are incredibly easy to obtain too (I’ve gone from 30 Nook Miles to 5,370 in about 5 minutes before) and can be exchanged at a terminal in the resident center for several different items. But Nook Miles help fix a big problem I had with Animal Crossing, which is the pacing.
I know, Animal Crossing was never meant to be a game that you play for marathon sessions. Just play for a little bit, take care of some chores and shut it off. But New Horizons adds that extra style of play by constantly rewarding you for playing all the time. As of writing the game has been out for 4 days and it is now one of my most played Switch games. I have been playing it almost nonstop, and a lot of it is because of the Nook Miles acting as a form of gaming achievement and giving you tangible rewards for completing them. The pacing for New Horizons is phenomenally balanced in that you can play as much or as little as you want and it be okay.
So if you are on the fence about getting Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I would say to get it. The game is the best in the series by building on what made the previous games fun while adding new features that fix the problems of them. It is a relaxing experience that is unlike any other game I’ve played, and I love it. So go out, buy this game and have some island fun going in debt to a Tanooki with a 0% interest pay as you can mortgage.