Animal Crossing: New Horizons – The #1 Quarantine Game of the Year

By Max Gast

 When Animal Crossing: New Horizons was delayed for production reasons by Nintendo, many people were upset. Little did Nintendo know, they set themselves up for one of the best-timed launches in video game history, coinciding with the global COVID-19 pandemic and tens of millions of people staying at home.  

Animal Crossing: New Horizons  (ACNH) — the fifth game in the Animal Crossing series — has been hyped up since the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2019 when it was first unveiled.

A major character, Isabelle, a weird mix between a Shih Tzu and a secretary, was announced as a fighter in one of Nintendo’s flagship series, Super Smash Bros in 2018. Ever since then, people had been wondering if Animal Crossing on Nintendo’s flagship console, the Nintendo Switch, was actually coming. Animal Crossing in prior years had been on the GameCube, the wildly popular Wii, the Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo 3DS. Since no actual Animal Crossing game came out on Nintendo’s unsuccessful sequel to the Wii, the Wii U, people were starting to get curious whether AC would come to Nintendo’s new home console, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch is a hybrid console that you can take anywhere, such as in your car, or you can play on your TV when you put it in the “dock.”

The Animal Crossing series is in a genre of games called “life simulation.” A life sim is great to come out during this time because we all have no life outside of sitting on the couch all-day. Although AC (Animal Crossing) is not too realistic — I mean, c’mon, you have to pay out your mortgage to a talking tanuki (a Japanese raccoon) — you still have problems to worry about, like paying out your mortgage to a talking tanuki and helping neighbors settle in. One of the big selling points for this year’s Animal Crossing is the desert island theme. In the previous years, you would move into an already thriving island. This time around, YOU have to build that thriving island with your neighbors who do nothing except fish, walk, and give the occasional compliment. (Yeah, the neighbors are very lazy. ) You have a tanuki (Tom Nook) who gives you orders and Isabelle, the one dog that keeps everything sorted out on the island.

Animal Crossing has brought in a lot of “bells” for Nintendo — bells are the in-game currency — selling over 13.41 million copies.  

Following are some of the pros of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. “Why only the pros?” you might ask. Why? Because ACNH has no cons. It is one of the few games I would call perfect.

Pro 1: For an unrealistic game, the graphics are beautiful. We have seen many unrealistic games use Unreal Engine 4 but ACNH doesn’t use that engine. ACNH uses the Havok game engine. The same engine used in games such as Splatoon 2 and ARMS.

 It’s just naturally simple and beautiful. It does still have cartoony graphics but the game is very colorful and vibrant. You can customize your island as much as you want. You can make it dark and scary or make it look like unicorns and rainbows. We’ve seen games like Apex Legends and Titanfall use the Source Engine instead of Unreal engine and they look great but ACNH’s graphics are just a different type of great.  

Pro 2: It’s very hard to get bored of ACHN because when you think you’ve had enough, Tom Nook just shoves more assignments down your throat. One time I had to craft a lot of things to help move in new neighbors and it took me an entire week.  What this told me is that you will never not have something to do in ACNH. Another feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a weird online/co-op sort of thing where you can visit other people’s islands. The best example I can come up with is when the president-elect, Joe Biden, made an Animal Crossing island for his presidential campaign before he was elected. The island was called “Biden HQ” and you could visit it as it was open to the public.

Pro 3: The game has a lot of things to keep you playing like Sow Joan’s Stalk Market, which is basically the stock market but instead of companies it’s turnips. The catch is, the person who sells the turnips, Daisy Mae, only comes on Sundays. Also, your turnips rot after a week so you have to sell them before she comes again or you will lose bells.

Overall, I’d give ACNH 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only reason I’m taking off half a star is because the gameplay can get a little repetitive. It’s just: help someone settle in, help someone build their shop. But the cool thing about the game is that after hours of gameplay, you can take a thorough look around your island and see how far it has come.  All in all, you should definitely get ACNH because it is very much worth your time. You should also get this game if you are bored of quarantine because Animal Crossing: New Horizons is sort of like an escape from quarantine while you can still stay home on your couch.

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