REVIEW: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

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Animal Crossing New Horizons | Logo Art
Title Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Release Date March 20th, 2020
Genre Life Simulation
Platform Nintendo Switch
Age Rating Everyone
Official Website

I’m relatively new to Animal Crossing. Back when New Leaf was the latest title and it had already been out for a year or two, I picked it up, curious to see what all the hype was about. Honestly, I was really disappointed at how slow paced it was. Here I was ready to fully jump into a new game and it turns out, it was the slowest thing ever, more of a casual game to check in on for just a little bit on a daily basis. Despite my dismay with New Leaf, I did spend over a hundred hours on it which was spread out throughout many months. Once Nintendo started showing off Animal Crossing: New Horizons though, I was strangely excited. I knew that it was a casual game which wouldn’t entertain me for more than 20 or so minutes in one sitting, and yet I couldn’t help but fall in love with the upgraded art and overall quality of the graphics. I was hoping the Nook Miles tasks would give me more to do each time I turned the game on. With that said, let’s discuss New Horizons and whether or not I was equally dismayed with it, or if it lives up to the hype and my own irrational excitement.

Animal Crossing New Horizons | Planted roses

I was overjoyed to finally have some roses.

Tom Nook’s latest money making scheme is a deserted island package. Before you ship off, you’ll decide how your villager looks and pick an island to land on. Basically you’ll decide between a variety of maps and choose the one you can live with. Later on, a lot of the layout can be changed for the very first time in the series’ history. But there are some permanent fixtures, such as where the beach is at, where your dock is located, where the rivers end and other similar stuff around the edges of the island. What you also can’t change is the native fruit on your island and the native flowers. That’s right, this time around you won’t find every flower type available growing right in your personal town. My own island has windflowers and the store sells pansies and tulips. When I started the game I reset once because I didn’t like my villagers or the island fruit. But I had absolutely no idea there was such a thing as differing native flowers until I visited Quentin’s (fellow oprainfall writer) island. I was shocked when I caught sight of a horde of roses on his cliffs and immediately requested some. I’m still trying to crossbreed that initial collection, seeing as it hasn’t spread far yet. Though I absolutely love Animal Crossing’s roses since not only do they have the largest variety of colors, but they also look the nicest.

Animal Crossing New Horizons | The start of our life on a deserted island

Shari and Lyman are much cooler looking than the original villagers I got before resetting.

When you initially land on your chosen deserted island, you’ll collect your tent from either Timmy or Tommy and then be expected to go pick a spot for your new home. You won’t be in a tent forever because after you’ve paid off Tom Nook’s initial package fee (your plane ticket, moving expenses, the cost of your tent, etc.), you’ll be able to trade it in for a full-fledged house, albeit a small one. Now here’s where those starting villagers I mentioned earlier come into play. No matter what, everyone begins with two starter villagers. Another brand new feature in New Horizons is having the option to pick where your fellow island dwellers will live. If you’re like me, you want everything set up in a particular way. I was happy to help them out with finding the ideal spot for their tents. After a spot’s been picked out for you and your new neighbors, you’ll all hang out and celebrate the start of your new lives on this deserted island. This is when the slow paced, real-time daily life begins. Although there are certain things you’ll want to do before anything else. Some of that includes earning Nook Miles to pay off your package fee, donating bugs to Tom Nook to entice Blathers to come to town, and cleaning up the mess of weeds on your island.

Animal Crossing New Horizons | Easter Park

Being able to decorate outside is one of my favorite new features.

Speaking of Nook Miles, that’s one of the major draws of New Horizons. In the series’ past, there weren’t any real tasks or goals to work towards outside of unlocking each facility, working to upgrade them and earning bells to pay off your loan. ACNH introduces Nook Miles, a currency outside of bells (that can’t be traded with your friends, by the way) which can be used to buy certain items, pay off your initial package fee and spent on Nook Miles tickets. Nook Miles tickets take you to other random deserted islands to collect crafting materials and recruit more animal villagers to move-in. Yes I just said crafting materials. New Horizons continues what Nintendo started in AC Pocket Camp. A huge new feature and draw for New Horizons is the crafting system. You’ll find out that branches, weeds, wood knocked out of trees and your island’s fruit can all be used to craft stuff. You can craft tools, decoration items for your home and eventually larger town decorations. For example, fountains and park utilities like benches and playground equipment. You see, what used to be public works projects in New Leaf can now be bought and/or crafted with Nook Miles. The only projects leftover in ACNH which still resemble the public works projects are bridges and inclines.

Being a brand new console sized Animal Crossing title, your island has tiers. Inclines must be built to get to the upper levels without having to pull your ladder out. Or, if you don’t like cliffs, you can always reduce the amount of them later on, after you’ve unlocked the Island Designer app on your Nook phone. While I’m on the topic of designing, there’s yet another option added in New Horizons, this one was initially featured in Happy Home Designer. Decorations you normally only put inside your house can also be placed outside. You’re now free to fully personalize your island and design it how you see fit. Oh and one last thing I want to bring up is that if you get the Nintendo Switch Online app on your actual real life phone, you can scan QR codes to get designs you or others have made in New Leaf transferred to New Horizons.

Animal Crossing New Horizons | K.K. Slider concert

After K.K. Slider performs his concert, he’ll come back once a week and take song requests.

The island designer app I just mentioned and your Nook phone it’s located on are the last two features I want to discuss. The designer app won’t be unlocked until you’ve convinced enough villagers to move to your island and also raised your island to 3 stars. At a certain point, Isabelle (after you get her to move to town and help out at Resident Services) will offer island evaluations. She judges your island based on how nice it looks and what everyone thinks of it. The ultimate goal here is to convince K.K. Slider to hold a concert. After you’ve done so, the credits roll and you’re left to live each day how you please, which includes now being able to create various pathways and the ability to alter cliffs, rivers, waterfalls and ponds. The Nook phone is something you get at the beginning of the game, along with your tent to live in. Your phone will ultimately contain apps like the island designer, recipes you’ve learned, bugs and fish you’ve caught, a camera, and more. To craft anything in this game, you have to find the recipe to do so. Recipes can be found in balloons, bought with Nook Miles, received from fellow villagers when they’re crafting and some can even be bought through the Resident Services kiosk where you’ll regularly trade in your Nook Miles.

More New Horizons on Page 2 ->

About Jenae R

Jenae is an RPG enthusiast who also enjoys cats, humidity-free warm weather, Dean Koontz books and a select handful of non RPG series and games. Two of her all-time favorite games are the original Shadow Hearts and Final Fantasy IX. She loves to ramble on about her numerous gaming opinions and is fortunate enough to be able to do it here at oprainfall.


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