Developer: Nintendo EPD
Review Context: I have played most of the games in the Animal Crossing franchise. I have not played Animal Crossing: City Folk or Animal Crossing: New Leaf, despite owning it. While I like the changes done to the series, the first game will always be memorable since it was something new for Nintendo.
Date of Playthrough: April 2020
While the visuals have gotten an upgrade, it still holds the charm that the series is known for. What sets this one apart is the game, surprising, running at 60 fps and having a larger scale. The previous games, especially the first one, had an issue with scaling. When you move out of frame to explore, the game would do a quick load to add the other section of the town. When the series moved to the Nintendo DS and 3DS this problem was solved and you are able to explore without the game doing quick loading spots. With Animal Crossing: New Horizons coming back on a console, the island is not only larger in scale, but more details were added. The biggest notice is how the leaves move in the trees when a breeze comes by, and the details on bugs and their movement. The residents of the island have more fur detail, just slightly, but its noticeable.
You would think a game like this would have simple controls and you are correct, for the most part. When you start off, you have to discover the gameplay for yourself, but as you continue to explore the island more features are added. The big one being able to switch out tools by pressing Left or Right on the D-pad and pressing Down to unequip. When you are able to purchase a quick swap feature, you’ll have a wheel with instant access to your tools by pressing Up. As I’ll explain later, another feature is added that not only helps modernize the series, but has helped give the game a never-ending conquest.
What makes the series unique is that the game has no ending. You end up on an island via Tom Nook’s Getaway. You start off small with a tent, few neighbors, and normal supplies as you work your way up. The pace picks up once Tom sees you are ready for more space. He builds you a house with the promise of paying him back in bells. How do you earn bells? By doing chores, such as fishing, plucking weeds, among others and selling it to his sons (Timmy and Tommy) at the Nook Cranny.
I mentioned a new feature that changes the series, enter the Nook Phone. Nook gives you this on your first day and is a game changer. With the phone, you are able to look up information on fish and insects you catch, redeem Nook Miles, get rescued, check out crafting recipes, and create your clothes’ design. Nook Miles is the game’s achievement system where you earn points for doing tasks. You can redeem these points at the store for items such as a Nook Mile Ticket to visit other islands. Rescue has Resetti saving you in the event you get stuck somewhere and transporting you back to your house.
DIY crafting is another first for the franchise. I feel that ever since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Nintendo feels most games should have you crafting. In time, your items will break, and you will need the right items to craft your tools back. Once you earn more DIY recipes you can make more durable tools. It gets tedious at first, but when you are able to craft stronger material the frustration dies down.
The museum also got an upgrade, as the scale is much bigger and more items for you to donate or sell. Normally, when I find a fossil or insect I sell it off, but because of the scale of the museum, for the first time, I’ve donated my findings instead of selling.
You also help Tom make the island a hotspot by helping to build houses and inviting more neighbors and your online friends via DoDo Flight code. Up to four players locally or eight online. Then you will soon have the ability to terraform the island. In other words, there are so many things to do, and you can take your time with the game or not.
Another staple in the Animal Crossing world is that everything runs in real time with the system clock and your location (a first). When something happens on a day, it happens. For example, Nook Cranny’s store hours are 6am-10pm and they really mean it. Not to mention seasonal events. Now, there are people who like to time travel by messing with the system settings for events. Thanks to live streamers, Nintendo is doing daily updates for upcoming events to prevent the spoilers out there. As of this review, the most recent was Nature Day (Earth Day). I have never time traveled in any Animal Crossing game since I feel it breaks the illusion of the world.
The soundtrack for Animal Crossing games (while small) has always fit the mood of a game while you’ll just be chillin’ while doing tasks or not. If you want more variety, when you acquire a Stereo Set, buy some K.K. Slider albums and prepare to be amazed. The speech language of the villagers grows on you, but for some, it may become annoying.
Similar Games Liked:
Animal Crossing (GCN)
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
Similar Games Disliked:
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Mobile)