Animal Crossing: New Horizons
March 20, 2020
My first console was the Gamecube, and one of my first console games was the original Animal Crossing, so you can bet that, despite being 30 years old, I was going to get the new installment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
First, the graphics. Of course they’re going to be better! The last installment of this game was on a handheld. However, just how nice the graphics are was truly a surprise. You would think that a game bound by the constraints of its animated, almost childish style could only go so far with graphical improvements. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised, especially the details like the leaves in the trees moving as fast as the wind is blowing, relaxing beach waves, and more recently the cherry blossom petals falling during the (too short) cherry blossom event in early April.
Second, they seriously upped their fashion game in this release. Not only do they allow players to download and use QR codes of regular designs from New Leaf, they also have given us access to Pro Design codes, too. From the pro designer app on your NookPhone, to the seemingly endless options that the Able Sisters rotate out daily, there is always a way to express yourself.
Having only played Pocket Camp recently, the multiplayer aspects in that game are limited to traditional mobile game-style rather than a more complex MMO, it was refreshing to be able to run and play alongside my friends in their villages and mine in AC:NH. I can shop at their stores, talk to their villagers, and explore their houses. Also, if you have the Nintendo Online app installed on your phone, you can activate the NookLink “app” inside the phone and use your phone’s keyboard to type in the in-game chat (try it, it’s super convenient and much faster than plinking out each individual letter with your controller).
Next, I really appreciate some of the smaller things they added to the game, such as the ability to eat fruit and then up-end a whole tree only to be able to plant it perfectly again in the new desired spot. It’s so much easier than chopping it down, replanting, and waiting days to regrow. Just like real-life, you can dig-up and replant trees whole. Also, the addition of flower hybrids has been very nice and a fun diversion for the more floral-oriented Villagers.
Last, the museum. Oh, the museum! It’s so big and beautiful. It really feels like a real museum. I could easily spend an hour exploring it, and I can’t wait until it’s nearly full! Chilling out in the fish/aquarium section is hands-down the most relaxing activity.
Brace yourself, for I have many criticisms of this game. Being a long-time fan and a modern gamer, I have a lot of expectations and they are quite high, especially for a franchise with this kind of history. So let’s dive in, starting with crafting.
At first, I was going to laud the crafting system. However, upon further review and discussing with fellow Villagers/Resident Representatives, I fear it falls short of expectations and needs. First, you cannot craft multiple items at once, which I personally find very annoying and others do as well. Second, you cannot access your storage from the crafting menu. Third, and this is the most nit-picky of all my criticisms, but the customization menu is lacking. It would be an improvement if customization was an option offered while crafting, rather than a separate action after the fact. Also, customization kits should be “charges” that do not take up an inventory space. Last, if I’m clicking on the bench, intending to craft something, why do I need to be asked if I want to craft? This ties into the customization kits, because it is offered in that initial dialogue rather than an integrated feature in the crafting system, but if this was resolved, the whole system could be much more user-friendly and streamlined.
Next, the “Bunny Day” event. If you played during this event, I don’t need to tell you what was awful about it, but for those who didn’t, I will say just one word that sums it all up: eggs. Eggs everywhere. Do you like to hit a tree with three leaf eggs that also sh*ts out three wood eggs when you were hoping for actual wood? Also, you know that fish you just spent over a minute trying to land your bobber in the exact spot needed to aggro the damn shadow? Yeah, that’s a f*cking water egg. Enjoy. Although the game developers did listen to players and nerfed the drop rate about halfway through the event, the damage had already been done.
Another gripe I have is the two-minute process and cutscene required to visit another person’s island or be visited. I don’t need a flyover of the village every single time (although it is kind of cool, I would still rather not go through it for the sake of time). It doesn’t take that long to visit a mystery island or send mail, why should it take two whole minutes to load another person into my island? At this point, I am less than one month into playing, and this system alone has caused me to feel burn-out. My daily routine now is to log-in to check the two stores I have in my town, maybe farm some wood/bugs/fruit/fish to make about 50-100k if I really work at it, and then log off. This takes less than an hour and I feel if I spend any more time in this game, I will really burn out on it, and that’s the last thing I want right now. It’s an excellent distraction and provides a small bit of escapism for those who need it.
More gripes! Why can’t I send mail from my mailbox like a normal mail system? I have to run to the airport (you know, the place residential mail is normally sent from??? [sarcasm]). I just want to send normal mail in my mailbox, dangit.
I also have some news: fishing is still not relaxing. Not after 18 years of the franchise, nope. Still the least relaxing aspect of the game. My thumbs are twitching just thinking about it. The only game that fishing has been relaxing in was Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and even then, it still requires a quick reaction time.
Last, the spiders and scorpions. According to my fellow Villagers, these have, apparently, always been in the game. I was just #blessed to have never encountered them before! However, with children and other sensitive adults playing this game (as well as tough, old, grumpy adults; can’t forget them), why did they include such antagonizing things like tarantulas chasing you?! Scorpion season starts in May and as a person who is extremely afraid of scorpions, I am not looking forward to it.
Despite my gripes, I actually have really been enjoying my little island, spending time with my friends both near and far, and in these stressful times, don’t we all need a little escape?
- Multiplayer system
- Tedious visiting cutscene
- One-way mailbox
- Scorpions (and tarantulas)