‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’: Sometimes a Virtual World is Better

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'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' is a game that simulates real life. This newest iteration is the fifth worldwide release of a game in the series.

Joshua Smith, Assistant Editor

On March 20, in the midst of the devastating COVID-19 outbreak, a small glimmer of hope was found in a world dominated by gloom predictions and headlines. This is the gleam of a new ‘Animal Crossing’ game on the Nintendo Switch. Of course the release of the game won’t do anything to resolve or even contain the virus, but as more and more events are cancelled, many students, teachers and working-class adults are all finding more free time than they know what to do with. This is where the game ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ comes into play. As a game that simulates what life would look like if you were in control of a deserted island, it is as cute and enjoyable as it is time consuming. 

As the game begins, you are presented with a variety of options. These range from not only customizing the character that will be played with, but the layout of the island that your  characters will be inhabiting soon after this opening sequence finishes. This is just the beginning of the fun, for as soon as you get associated with Tom Nook, the overseeing raccoon (every character but your own is an animal) and his twin-employees Timmy and Tommy Nook, you are given an entire world that is yours to customize. This customization of the world in any different way is at the heart of why this genre and is why the Animal Crossing series has gained such a following since it’s debut decades ago. Whether this customization comes in the liberty to just fish, catch bugs, collect fossils or to rearrange each and every item that calls the island home, there are countless things that can be done. Whether it be collecting every variety of fruit and planting them in a way that creates the ideally biodiverse island or cultivating all of the posies, lilies and roses in a way that paints an illustrious picture around the island, so much can be done anywhere and everywhere in regards to botany. I personally have found each and every one of the components of the game to be incredibly satisfying, but the ability to collect and document the different species of animals that call your island home in a grandiose museum is a feature that is particularly exciting. This has led me to spend hours upon hours fishing and catching the more common animals in hopes that at one point I may catch something more rare that is worth showing off in my museum.  

Visiting other islands is a key feature of the game as well. The ability to show off and share your island with friends and family illustrates the key focus of the game, that being a sense of togetherness where all of those participating can have a community. There have been multiple days since release that I have spent playing this game alongside my family, where all of the little discoveries that we find are shown off, conversed about and laughed about. This seemingly simple and unassuming game has shown itself to mean a lot to a community that expects a lot from it, and not only does it add to the experiences that have been had in previous installations of the game, it creates an entirely new experience where you built your island from the ground up. This, alongside all of the community elements that are bringing people together, make this not only the perfect game for the casual gamer, but anyone who has been a hardcore fan of the series. 

All in all, it’s easy to recommend ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ to anyone that is considering it with as high of a rating that I’m allowed to give it a 5/5. It has found a unique place within not only the series of games that I enjoy playing but somewhere special in my familial dynamic as well, giving me seemingly endless fish to catch, fossils to dig up and terrain to rearrange.