Animal Crossing: New Horizons couldn’t have asked for a better release date. Released as a Nintendo Switch exclusive on March 20, 2020, the game served as a pain reliever for the horror that is 2020. This open-ended life-simulator, which allows players to do everything from fishing to decorating their own virtual living space and island, sold millions and became the Nintendo Switch game I played the most by hundreds of hours.
Critical Reception in Relation to the Pandemic
The game has been covered extensively as a quarantine palate cleanser, receiving coverage from unusual news sources most wouldn’t expect video game articles to come out of. Simon Parkin of The New Yorker talked about how Animal Crossing became part of his daily routine amidst the global pandemic. Insider’s Palmer Haasch explored how the game would “alleviate our social distancing woes” and shared Twitter and Tumblr feeds from users excited about the timely release during their isolation. Dave Thier of Forbes even reviewed the game, calling it “the game we all need right now.”
The sales of Animal Crossing: New Horizons support that if there were one video game to define the landscape of the pandemic, it’s this one. Polygon reported that the game sold 13.41 million copies in six weeks. It would go on to sell double that of the previous game as well as outsell Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, and Super Mario Odyssey.
My Prior Experience with the Animal Crossing Series
I have never gotten as wrapped up in Animal Crossing as I did with New Horizons. I first experienced the game on GameCube and its follow-up from 2005 on DS. So, the most “current” Animal Crossing game I had played previously was from 15 years ago. And wow, what an upgrade 15 years make!
There was certainly a charm to Animal Crossing on GameCube and Animal Crossing: Wild World on the handheld, but I never spent as long playing it as my other GameCube games. It never really stood out to me as I preferred the creepiness (well, creepiness from my kid perspective) of Luigi’s Mansion or the platforming and pretty colors/setting of Super Mario Sunshine. This is why the first couple of weeks after Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out, I thought nothing of it. I never really used my Nintendo Switch besides playing Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu (never finding enough time to return to the hack-and-slash galore that is Bayonetta). But then…
Getting Bitten by the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Bug
…I found myself with more time. Plus, I heard about the Bunny Day event happening, and with the time of the event getting closer to ending, I decided to bite the bullet and treat myself to an online ordered helping of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I got sucked into the game, finishing the Bunny Day event in record time and logging in every day afterward. After all, like an addictive phone game, this Switch exclusive cleverly had daily rewards you could earn by logging in each day, unique furniture you could buy that may not show up again for a while, and even more to come back to each day.
As an obsessive collector, I found myself decorating my virtual house to my heart’s content, feeling it really represented my personality. I filling it with arcade cabinets I could never afford in real-life and enough clothes to have a different outfit for every day of the year. Plus enough bugs and fish to create an army on land and sea.
Before I knew it, I had logged over 100 hours in only a couple of months. It was around this time that I had to put the game down for about three months. But because I’m a sucker for their seasonal events, I returned for the Halloween event, stayed for the Turkey Day event, and continue to log in each day. After all, I can’t miss out on buying a new toy in Nook’s shop, which happens every day in the month of December!
Shout-outs to the numerous creations people have been inspired to make because of this game. I fell under the spell of using QR codes to download player-made outfits (indulging my inner anime fan with numerous cosplay options). I was engrossed by the Animal Crossing horror short “DON’T PEEK.” Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the catchy tune crossing over Animal Crossing and Doom in “DOOM CROSSING: Eternal Horizons ■ Music Video feat. Natalia Natchan“?
Now hitting over 250 hours played, Animal Crossing: New Horizon has become part of my routine in the morning, popping into the store and doing a few tasks before going on with my workday, sometimes using it to unwind at the end of a long day.
If it got in the way of my productivity I would curse it out, but you can pick it up and play for just 20-30 minutes and feel satisfied with what you were able to accomplish in-game. It’s also a nice break from the hack-and-slash rabbit hole I found myself falling into ever since I played Dark Souls and Bloodborne, always looking for my next Souls-like game to enjoy. So, if you’re looking for something scenic to indulge in, I highly recommend Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It may help with your quarantine/self-isolation woes.
What game have you been playing during your quarantine/self-isolation? Have you succumbed to the Animal Crossing fever or looking for imposters in Among Us? Let me know in the comments below!
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