Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the game that was released at the perfect time

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Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series is adored by many because of its pleasing gameplay and its light-heartedness. So when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was first announced on September 13th, 2018, during a Nintendo Direct (a short presentation of Nintendo Title announcements) a lot of people were very excited. This was after Isabelle, a character from the franchise, was announced as a fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The game was later showcased at E3 in 2019 with new gameplay. On September 4th, 2019 in yet another Nintendo direct, a new trailer was shown confirming that Animal Crossing was being delayed to this year. The trailers revealed that in the game, you make your way to a deserted island using new mechanics such as crafting, vaulting, and ladders to make the island your own.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the 5th installment in the mainline series. The first game Animal Crossing was localized in 2002. The plot was simple, the player got on a train to move into a nearby village filled with living animals. The series moved on to the Wii with Animal crossing: City Folk in 2008, which many found it to be the weakest due to it being similar to the previous title, Animal Crossing: Wild World, released in 2005 for the Nintendo DS. The main differences the two games had was that in City Folk you were able to visit the city (shocker) in which you were able to purchase new furniture, clothing, or get your hairstyle changed. City Folk also added some more holiday’s (in-game events based on real life holidays). Both games used the same engine which many felt was disappointing, especially since it was on the Wii and not on the Nintendo DS. With the stigma the game got, developers wanted to find a way to make the series feel new. That’s when a game developer brought up an idea that would change the way players play the following game. When the 4th installment Animal Crossing: New Leaf released in 2013 for the 3DS, many were surprised at the changes. The game improved on previous titles by adding in a variety of new features such as diving in water. For the first time, you were no longer a child moving into a village, instead you became the mayor of the town. This leads to many options in customization with the town and ability to run it as you please. The game was heavily praised by both fans and critics with IGN giving the game a 9.6/10.

New Horizons lets you play and build whatever you’d like, the limit is your creativity. The game has helped me keep in contact with some friends. It features multiplayer in which you get to visit each other’s islands (though you must have online membership to do so. Switch owners can get a free 7 day trial and can decide if they want to pay $20 for a full year or $8 for three months).  It’s one thing calling friends over a regular phone call, but it’s another when you’re playing with them in a game like this. There are various things my friends and I have done when we visit each other’s island. We usually determine which island to go to depending on the island and it’s visitors (NPCs that will visit on random days selling different items). For instance, my island once was buying turnips for 285 bells (bells are the in-game currency and tulips are the game’s stock market). My friends would then come over and sell their turnips and make more money depending on how much tulips they sold. Of course, we don’t always have to be selling or buying things from each other’s  island. One time, I visited my friend’s island to get some resources that were not available on my island (this varies from fruit and flowers as each island has their own native crops). We also exchanged items like furniture and clothing, she even gave me an in detail tour around her island. I’ve also met many people through the community by posting about my island and getting visitors to come and play on my island, which usually resulted in a friend request. Being together with friends and strangers on an island that you or they created helps not only give a sense of togetherness, but it also pushes your creativity and gets you to plan out your island even more.

While playing with friends is fun, I enjoy the game more when I play on my own at my own pace. The game goes by actual time, so I always get on at whatever time I can without feeling any pressure. Despite following basic procedures every day (gathering materials, tending your flowers, checking the shop, checking up on villagers), NPCs will always offer something new to do. On Sundays, I always wake up early in the morning to buy turnips from the NPC Daisy Mae. On Saturdays, I always attend K. K. Slider’s little concert during the evening. Throughout the week, different NPCs will show up and offer something new to do. This makes it very easy to get hooked and lose track of time, which I often do. This game helps me maintain my sanity by setting the tone of peace and tranquility with its charming gameplay and visuals. For that reason, I would highly recommend the game, especially during quarantine. It’s unfortunate that the regular Nintendo Switch is sold out in most places at the moment. However, the Nintendo Switch Lite is still In stock in some places. The difference between the two is the regular Switch lets you play on the television with detachable joy-cons while the Lite doesn’t. The game itself can still be found in stores (Gamestop, Best Buy) and in the Nintendo eShop for $60.