Switching it up: Nintendo’s newest Animal Crossing game makes being in debt to a raccoon fun

On March 20, 2020, a ray of sunshine broke through the thick clouds of quarantine; Nintendo released Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH), a classic life simulator game with a new take.  

We will never know if Nintendo was smart or lucky with their launch date, but with the game’s release at the start of quarantine, it skyrocketed to the top of the charts. As of September 30, there have been 37.35 million games sold and it is the second best-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time. While some of the popularity was generated by fans of Animal Crossing, it was also because, during the time of isolation, the game’s focus on family and community brought some of the socialization that people needed.

The game starts with users traveling to a deserted island after purchasing a ticket for a holiday package. The character is introduced to the villagers and slowly begins to develop their island. As time goes on, users can collect more villagers, build up and furnish their town, and eventually even be able to edit the topography of the island. Along the way, users can catch different animals to keep as pets or donate to the island’s museum. 

Also, the main character is completely customizable, including a massive wardrobe to collect and the ability to customize clothing.

The game allows users to visit other people’s islands as well as giving each of the 397 villagers a unique dialogue that makes them interesting to interact with. Users have the ability to make their dream world with hours of playtime and the game’s currency, Bells. 

My personal favorite villagers are Merengue and Frita. These lovely ladies are two amongst the 60 food-inspired ACNH villagers. Merengue is absolutely adorable with a pastel pink body and a strawberry horn. She is known to have a normal villager personality, which makes her sweet and easy to get along with. 

Frita is on a whole different level. Compared to Merengue’s delicate cuteness, Frita is a hefty sheep that is inspired by fast food. Her wool consists of french fries, she has the head of a hamburger, and she is decked out in hotdog apparel. Frita is a sisterly villager type, meaning she is always seeking users out to give them advice and even medicine if they get stung by wasps. 

While the game is famous for its financial pressure and never-ending debt to Tom Nook, it is actually a relaxing life simulator. Each day users visit their island and do simple chores such as picking weeds, shaking trees (for fruit, money, and furniture), and seeing what’s for sale. The ability to run through such a simple checklist is calming and makes players feel relaxed. 

The whole game has a pacing that is completely reliant on the user. Depending on how individuals decide to play, they can advance quickly or slowly due to the open-ended nature of the game. With the whole island being customizable and the ability to chat with villagers, the game helps users immerse themselves in the ACNH world.

Skeptics may think that such a laid-back game would get boring, particularly because it has been so long since its release, but Nintendo surprised ACNH fans with a massive update in November.

 This includes the free introduction of cooking mechanics and the ability to grow vegetables. There are also additions to the customization of homes with new lighting and ceiling decor options. 

Players will also find a café inside the museum with Brewster the chicken as a new resident of the island. 

On top of this, users can pay a one-time fee of $25 to unlock the Happy Home Paradise expansion pack. This will allow users to decorate vacation islands for customers with specific requests. Unfortunately, Nintendo has confirmed that this will be the last major update to ACNH.

The first Animal Crossing was released in 2001 and since then there have been four additional renditions. Each time the game improves drastically with better graphics, gameplay, and more storyline. Fans all over the world hope to see the series continue to grow and soon surpass New Horizons.