Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes players out of town into a basic island setting within an open world, life simulation format filled with activities, objects, and characters in an endless storyline for local play (up to four) or online play (up to eight) set in real time.
Players can customize objects, characters and even the environments (terraforming anyone?).
Players were recently able to experience “Bunny Day” that coincided with Easter and can chat (voice or text), but only using the separate smartphone app. The worthwhile app also saves some serious time by allowing players to import designs via QR codes.
Players can live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere and experience all the seasons … just at different times. Be sure to select your player profile before customizing your character. There is no reset option and the autosave is very nice.
Players take on the human characters (similar to Miis) while the animal characters take up residency in the environments. Tom Nook is the guiding character-based in Resident Services and is available at any time. Amiibo figures and cards are compatible (invite animals via Nook Stop in Resident Services then tap the amiibo figure/card on the Switch).
Earn Nook Miles through special activities or as you go about your daily island routine. You can use your Miles to access new recipes, bigger pockets, and more!
The in-game currency are Nook Miles and are given for task completions. Players can also sell items too for bells used for premium items and the initial relocation fees … it’s optional to pay that debt, but gives a nice advantage in-game progression. Different Nook Mile rewards appear after you pay off this debt.
Players start with a fishing pole and a net then can expand abilities with a shovel and pole. Press the left directional button on the left controller to quickly switch among tools and the up directional button for detailed access. The handiest tool is the NookPhone – basically a smartphone with multiple tools … just like a real smartphone. It’s mostly a handy information/status tracker.
The medium yet enjoyable learning curve lies in the customizations and interactions. Players receive constant feedback throughout the constant discoveries, refinement, tasks, and incentives like getting a five-star rating.
Activities include fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting, decorating, hairstyling, exploring (you can literally shake the tree), gathering, socializing, magic, archeology, skill building, playing the markets (e.g. well-time turnip selling), party hosting, fence building, photography, landscaping, tailoring, robotics, gardening, and crafting. Always be on the look out for special events like a message in a bottle washing up on the shore.
Need more logic puzzles here instead of so many object combinations made from the DIY (Do It Yourself) recipes. Botany options (trees, plants, etc.) expand the possibilities even more. Does money grow on trees? It does in this game.
The objects include special golden tools and even Nintendo Switches (maybe some accessible mini games are on the way). The expandable inventory works well because nothing goes to waste (e.g. weeds can be sold, old boots caught on your fishing pole can be paired up for use, etc.)
Players can cross water by putting on a swimsuit (an achievable object) though you can just create a bridge or even pole vault over! Ladders are also handy objects.
Objects are not spoiled by outdoor weather. In fact, there won’t be any disasters or calamities that would cause any rework, so rest your head and enjoy.
Be wise when acquiring objects. For example, the backpack serves as an accessory and does not yield more practical advantages like storage or expanding your inventory. This game needs more mobility in the objects (e.g. scooter, lawn mower).
It’s easy to get caught up on object collecting. Some objects can be donated to a museum … don’t worry, players get some compensation.
Besides some amazing character customizations, cute characters include Isabelle, Resetti, KK Slider, Gulliver, Shih Tzu, and the traveling merchant Kicks.
These characters need to watch out for strange creatures if they don’t have any tools. Bug bites can take players out for a spell. Characters also have to watch out for other players’ actions as well like getting hit on the head or a mean push into a hole.
The controls work better when attached to the main Switch screen though this quality game is certainly big-screen worthy. The impressive graphics capture nature’s wonders like wind and trees very well.
There are always possibilities with upcoming updates (e.g. cloud saves, game data recovery, connection to the mobile Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp game?)
Developed and published by Nintendo, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the fifth installment in this popular series and comes highly recommended (**** out of four stars). The highest interaction, interest level you can get thanks to the simulation genre where players’ thoughts are not that far removed even when they are not playing. An amazing, worldwide experience that has also given players a protest platform, dating experiences, and many others during this COVID-19 pandemic. Rated E for comic mischief.