Editor/Husband Note: Since I have been busy with Chasing the Stick and replaying all of the PS4 Naughty Dog games, I have a measly 10ish hours in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. My wife Abby has over 130 hours. She is the clear expert in the family, so we thought it would be fun if she reviewed the game. All I did was edit for grammar and formatted the review. The words, story, and pictures are all her. Enjoy!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review
BEST. GAME. EVER!
By Abigail Roberts
Okay, so I’ve been on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons hype train since day one of even knowing this game was going to exist. I’ve played Animal Crossing games in the past and loved them, but I could tell this one had a whole different feel to it. I mean, c’mon, having the opportunity to start up a village on a deserted island is pretty dope.
A little background about me, I am not much of a video game person. I typically find a game I really like and become obsessed with it. I don’t like to jump from game to game or invest too much time in games that I know I don’t thoroughly enjoy. The only games in my life that I have wholeheartedly jumped into are the Sims series (Sims 2 specifically), Stardew Valley, and Job Simulator. Casual life sim are my jam, so knowing that there was a new Animal Crossing game in the works got me super hyped. I have never been so excited about a game in my entire life, nor have I ever been the person that waits in line day one of the release.
Before the game came out, I was already scouring the internet for spoilers. Was Blathers still in the game? What about the Able Sisters? Our good friend Resetti? How about that random café guy? Can I swim? Which characters have transferred over from old games? Are there new villagers? How would the online platform work? I joined Animal Crossing groups on Facebook and researched the best starter packs for the game. Target was giving out a journal. GameStop gave out a poster. Best Buy gave out a bell bag and Tom Nook travel badge – BINGO! Best Buy was where I’d buy the game. I was an Animal Crossing sponge. I wanted to soak up as much as I possibly can before this game was released. I even pre-ordered the special edition Animal Crossing edition Switch and the travel case. I watched a few unboxing videos of the Animal Crossing switch. I cried watching them because I was so excited. When I tell you I was all in… I was ALL IN.
Unfortunately, there were two big bummers before receiving the game:
- I received the special edition Switch system a week before the game even came out. Not the biggest deal in the world, but such a tease! My husband gave me a few of his Switch games to tide me over – I played some of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Odyssey to fill up my time. Pretty cool games, but not what I bought the system for.
- My husband bought a copy of DOOM Eternal, which, due to COVID-19, was released the day before Animal Crossing. We dragged our butts to the Best Buy 20 minutes from our house to grab his copy of DOOM Eternal and what sits there taunting me behind the register? MY COPY OF ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS! IT. WAS. RIGHT. THERE. Just out of reach. The employee told us she could not give it to us and we had to come back the next morning to pick it up. Understandable, but a huge bummer.
Luckily during this time, as a middle school teacher, I was coming off my Spring Break. It was the weekend before I had to go back to work and I planned to live it up. Little did I know, COVID-19 would sweep across the world and cause us all to be homebound for an indefinite amount of time. In a time of absolute uncertainty, fear, loneliness, and anxiety in the world, this adorable game that connects people, creates friendships, and embraces creativity was released. It could not have come at a better time.
It was finally here. After a few restless nights, it was finally here. I wore my Tom Nook inspired sweatshirt that said “Loan Sweet Loan” to celebrate the occasion. Best Buy opened up at 11 am and I planned to be there as soon as it opened. Now, keep in mind, this was at the beginning of the COVID-19 breakout. We were instructed to be 6 feet apart, so it was kind of surreal when I approached Best Buy and they had employees directing us to stay 6 feet apart. Realistically, everyone there piled into the room to wait in line. We were willing to risk the virus for the game. I loved being surrounded by fellow soon-to-be-islanders geeking out about the game. Enjoy this picture of me about to cry from excitement after picking up my loot.
STARTING THE GAME!
As soon as I got home, I ripped open the packaging for all my items and immediately started playing the game. Emotions overcame me as I heard the music, saw familiar characters, and got to pick my island layout. Every time something cute appeared on the screen, I shouted out to my husband what it was. He had to wait until 4 pm to play since he was working from home due to COVID-19, but I wanted him to know about the experience. Me, on the other hand, played for the ENTIRE day.
“OH MY GOD MAX! I GOT APPLES!”
“HOLY CRAP! I GOT THE GREEN AIRPORT!”
“DOM IS THE CUTEST VILLAGER IN EXISTENCE!”
“THE CAMPFIRE IS SOOO CUTE!”
The list goes on and on. I immediately began speaking to Tom Nook, Timmy, Tommy, and my two starting villagers. I got pretty lucky in getting the airport color and fruit I wanted. I even got two super cute starter villagers, Dom and Hazel. Dom is a colorful male sheep who is into sports. He wears a tie dye shirt, has pink horns, and ends his sentences with “indeedaroo.” Hazel is in the category of an ugly-cute villager, kind of like a pug. She is an orange female squirrel with a unibrow. Her personality type is considered “Uchi,” meaning very caring. She gets along with all the other villagers.
The beginning of this game is pretty slow and restrictive because it tries to ease you into what you can do. Tom Nook, being the dictator he is, puts you straight to work. You are required to collect tree branches and gather fruit for a campfire and party drinks. While this isn’t exactly what I wanted to do to start the game, it immediately boosts a sense of community between the villagers. When the campfire starts, you’re like a little family, considering you are the only ones on this deserted island.
For the first few days of this game, you have to complete basic tasks for Tom Nook and start establishing the general store, museum, and upgrading your house. Each day, depending on your accomplishments from the previous day, you unlock exciting new features.
I don’t want to give away all the exciting things you can do, but just know that even after 130+ hours of game play, I still haven’t unlocked everything. The cool thing about this game is after the basic tutorial type stuff is over, it’s free reign! You can create and do whatever you choose to do.
One of my first tasks was to make eyebrows for my girl because duh. You can see my design below. Feel free to steal it when you unlock the customizing feature using a mirror.
My favorite thing about this game is that you can either make your own goals or you can follow set goals in the game. Not only does Tom Nook have a special dialogue called “what do I do now?”, but he also introduces Nook Miles early in the game. Let’s break down my favorite things in this game.
This is a goal-setting system that gives you points based on tasks you complete. It could be anything from having a certain number of people visit your island to selling a certain amount of weeds or chopping some wood. The more I’ve gotten into the game, the less attention I’ve paid to completing the harder tasks. There’s just so much to do in this game, I’ve been setting my own goals! You can cash in the miles you receive to buy special items, DIY recipes to craft, and even visit random islands for crafting materials or to convince a villager to come live on your island.
The amount of items in this game is bonkers! One of my favorite things to do is see what other people do with their island. People are so creative and it’s so easy to create your own themes for rooms or special spots on the island. After upgrading my house a few times, I even created a room where I placed everything that could be in a classroom. It is complete with a whiteboard, chalkboard, office chair, student desks, document papers, chemistry set, Newton’s cradle, class pets, microscope, skeleton, anatomical body model, periodic table poster, and so much more.
Recently, I started a carnival setup on part of my island. I’ve got different themed booths, a ticket desk, popcorn machine, cotton candy maker, teacup ride, kiddie pool, and lots more. I keep adding to it every time I find something that fits the theme. For example, I recently got a trophy from the Happy Home Academy and a teddy bear from a friend in the mail.
Visitors and Friends
Friends can come visit your island! I’ve had multiple people come visit my island, including my sister and cousins. This is not only a fun way to connect with people, but also a way you can trade items and grow trees that aren’t native to your island. I started with apples. My husband has pears. My cousins had peaches and cherries. My sister has oranges. I was able to collect all the different types of fruit pretty early in the game, lastly collecting coconuts from a random island using a Nook Miles ticket.
I recently convinced my best friend to buy a Switch system specifically for this game. She came to visit me so she could collect some of the fruit she didn’t have on her island. We had the opportunity to talk through the voice chat on the Nintendo Switch app. During quarantine, it’s so nice to be able to hang out with my best friend and play this game with her.
Above: My twin sister visiting my island, dressing like me, then hitting me with a net.
Though this game can be challenging with trying to pay off house loans or a new bridge/incline, there are always ways to get free bells. You can’t beat the feeling of shaking a tree or hitting a rock and seeing bells fly out of it. Sometimes you can even shoot a present out of the sky and get thousands of bells (like the present balloon I drew below).
There are just so many things to do in this game and it’s created in a way where these things aren’t meant to feel overwhelming. Every day, I wake up, check my mail, hit the rocks for bells or crafting materials, collect the shells from the beach, collect the DIY bottle from the beach and a random villager, shake the trees, water my flowers, talk to my villagers, fish, collect bugs, visit Timmy and Tommy, and check in at the Nook Miles Kiosk. Once I get the Able Sisters, I’ll be sure to talk to Mable every day as well. All these daily tasks keep me coming back to the game. I feel a responsibility and ownership in keeping my island running and keeping up my friendships with my villagers.
This game has kept me feeling connected in a world that feels so disconnected right now. I am so thankful for this game.
But y’all…..If I see another sea bass pun….
PS. Time traveling is cheating and I refuse to engage in it.