With an atmosphere unlike any other, Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” once again proves the company knows exactly what they’re doing.
Luckily, during these crazy times of COVID-19, the Nintendo Online Shop was available, which it has been for a while, to allow players to immediately download the cute island adventure at midnight on March 20. So, after paying the hefty $60 fee, I instantaneously received the game.
I was in awe as I opened it up and saw the two little raccoons, named Timmy and Tommy, eagerly getting me set up to “go on my island getaway” where I chose my character, birthday and island I wanted to live on. I always love when games hide that they’re games, especially when it comes to character creation.
A huge point of note should be pointed towards the fact no gender is given to the options. Just pick your style. I have short hair so I went with the male looking character, but I never was told anywhere that I was for sure a boy in the game’s system. It’s something to be appreciated when typically game developers tend to make people choose from females, who always have long hair, and males, who always have short hair. In the real world, people aren’t that plain. So seeing myself better reflected in a game and not having my gender play a role in it was a breath of fresh air from Nintendo who has a history of gendering like in the Pokemon series.
Getting onto the island, there was a short cutscene that was played as an introductory video, showcasing all that was possible on the island. From building fences, hanging out with friends to catching wildlife and having campfires, this small island really was paradise encapsulated.
The game is based on real-time except for the very first interaction, the tutorial, if you will. So it felt nice to have things speed by in the beginning, as you always had a specific task and didn’t have to wait for things to happen. Now that I’m into the thick of the game, spending almost more than a week playing it, everything just feels sluggish.
I have to wait to collect items scattered around that I can sell, I have to wait to pay off my home bill, I have to wait to talk to people or have people move in. I understand the importance of creating Animal Crossing’s historic atmosphere, the game has always been time-based, but we all know we used to be able to change that. People could set off their internal clock because they wanted to speed things up a bit, but with the Switch version, there is no option directly in-game to help us do it. I wish Nintendo would have realized people were going to try and do that and implement this feature. It would have made it so people don’t get bored easily.
I can only play the game for 20 minutes until I realize I’ve done everything possible, and that sucks. It’s an open-world game, with endless possibilities, but I feel so trapped. It really feels deserted on the island.
But there are some good things about it. The characters are as cute as can be, the art style is soothing and hearing the soft tunes in the background while you run around the world, it’s peaceful. It’s a stress-relieving adventure that’s limited to time due to in-game resources. But the connections that you make with the wholesome dialogue between creatures, because you’re the only human, are something to be remembered. You may find yourself having a favorite villager, loving or hating the head honcho of the game, Tom Nook. All of these creatures have life to them through emotes and dialogue, it’s so hard to believe. But, I think it’s so important also to realize this game teaches you patience.
In a world of fast paced issues and problems that need to be solved, the slow, zero-interest loan that Tom Nook gives you of a hefty sum doesn’t weigh on you. You’re given no deadlines to anything in game. You can take this game at your own pace, but you’re rewarded daily if you use certain functions of the game. It’s a breath of freshness in a sea of sorrow.
“Animal Crossing: New Horizon” has its faults, issues, but it also has great characters and some terrible ones. But one thing is for sure, you’ll get lost in a world full of cute creation and will get stung by wasps and knocked out by tarantulas if you don’t carry a net.