Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out just in time for self-quarantine.
The fifth installment of the Animal Crossing series was released by Nintendo Co. on March 20—two weeks before Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order due to the coronavirus.
The virtual island, populated by human-like cartoon animals, has become the go-to distraction for many. Hunting insects, crafting tools from natural resources and decorating their island paradise are some of the activities players engage in.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a popular social simulation video game series on the Nintendo Switch. Created by Nintendo, it’s often being placed alongside all-time favorites like Super Mario, Legend of Zelda and Pokémon.
Like the world we are facing today, the new installment comes with changes.
Previous installments had players settling on a village populated by anthropomorphic animals, but in New Horizons, they inhabit a deserted island and build a community from scratch.
New Horizons begins with a greeting from Tom Nook, a Japanese raccoon dog (or “tanuki”) who first appeared in the original Animal Crossing. He was a simple shop owner, but moved into real estate by the New Leaf installment.
In the new installment, players buy a vacation getaway package from Nook. The package costs 49,800 bells (bells is Animal Crossing currency), but since players don’t start the game with enough money to buy the package in full, they fall into debt.
Despite the pressure to pay the debt to Nook, New Horizons is a tranquil experience. Players have plenty of time to explore the island and do activities like gardening, fishing, shopping and visiting the local museum (run by the owl Blathers). The easiest way to pay off your debt is by selling the fish, insects, weeds and fruits you collect during your exploration to Timmy and Tommy—two tanukis who are Tom Nook’s apprentice.
When you start the game, you do activities such as recruiting up to ten villagers to move to the island, building and upgrading shops and houses and turning the island into a tropical getaway to earn a three-star rating and attract the traveling musician dog K.K. Slider.
The process lasts about two weeks, with the arrival of K.K. Slider marking the end of the tutorial. But that isn’t the end of the game—there is still so much to do.
As a nonlinear life simulation, the game has no ending, and the player is faced with multiple quests that have no time limit.
The game also includes brand new features, such as customizing land (known as terraforming), choosing between the northern and southern hemisphere and having the game autosave.
There were some challenges that delayed the original release of New Horizons.
The development of the game was confirmed in September 2018 on Nintendo Direct, a broadcast website that uses online presentations and online videos to publish news about Nintendo. The possibility for a 2019 release was brought up.
The game’s title and first trailer premiered in June 2019 during another presentation on Nintendo Direct. Yoshiaki Koizumi, the deputy general manager of Nintendo’s Entertainment Planning & Development division, announced that New Horizons would be delayed until March 20.
The first game of the Animal Crossing series was launched on April 14, 2001.
The game, released for the Nintendo 64, received positive reviews. This led Animal Crossing to become a franchise made up of eight games, including five main installments and three spin-offs.
Eight years passed between the release of the fourth and fifth installment of the Animal Crossing series. However, the spin-offs were released during that time.
The games can be played on different platforms, such as the video game consoles Nintendo DS and Wii and on Android smartphones.
Animal Crossing also has a film adaptation, Dōbutsu no Mori, that was released in 2006. Two of the series’ characters, the Shih Tzu secretary Isabelle and the Villager, have appeared in the crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
About a month after the game’s release, New Horizons brought the return of old characters as an update to the game. These characters include Leif (a sloth who sells plants and shrubs), Redd (a fox who sells artwork, which sometimes can be counterfeit) and Reese and Cyrus (two alpacas who are married).
It also introduced the addition of shrubs, an art exhibit in the museum and various upcoming events happening up to June.
With its brand new features and different playing setting, New Horizons stands out versus previous installments.