A lot of people are sick and tired of coronavirus and quarantining. It is the only thing on the news, it is all anyone talks about, and it is hard to think about anything else. However, one of the most popular alternatives to moping around is turning to the newest, adorable addition to Nintendo’s life simulation series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The Animal Crossing series originated in 2001, and the current installment launched on March 20. The massive success that followed was phenomenal, surpassing 1.88 million copies within the first three days in Japan and reaching similar patterns around the rest of the world. New Horizons has become one of the fastest selling Nintendo Switch games, and that is no coincidence.
The announcement that social distancing would be extended to April 30 in the U.S. has deterred a lot of faith that normalcy will soon return, but in the meantime, New Horizons has quickly become the new favorite solution to surviving quarantine.
“I think my dad felt bad that I was locked up inside the house,” junior Samantha Sutch said. “So when I asked him for the game, he immediately said he would buy it for me.”
New Horizons prompts the player to create their own avatar and settle on a randomized island, where they can then do almost anything they want. Cute animal villagers who move in, a new crafting system allowing creation of tools and furniture, and the classic collect-a-thon aspect involving fishing, bug-catching and fossil-digging are staples of the game. If any aspect of Animal Crossing has caught consumers’ attention, it is how time consuming it can be.
“When I pick up the game there’s so much to do,” junior Nathan Do said. “I’ll lose track of time and play hour after hour until it’s 4 a.m.”
Self-quarantining has shattered regular structure, and although students must continue online schooling, it is still a new setting that does not follow the same rigid, seven hour schedule. Games like Animal Crossing can fulfill some of that structure that people need to feel stable in their day-to-day, even if it is as simple as logging on for 20 minutes to water some flowers and gather fruit.
A lot of students, like freshman Julia Lavoie, are also stressed over the transition to online school, even if it is meant to bring back some structure to students in its own way. However, New Horizons has proven to be a great pastime.
“It really helps with stress and it gives you something to do,” Lavoie said. “I think the game lets you have control over what’s happening, unlike what’s going on right now.”
Despite the stigma around how video games can limit social interaction, New Horizons actually has a lot of opportunity for connecting with others—whether using online play, in which up to eight players can meet up on someone’s island, or local play, in which up to four players can play simultaneously on the same Switch.
Lavoie enjoys online play, as it lets her keep in touch with her friends in a more entertaining way than a “regular Facetime call.” But for those who may be exhausted with being holed up with loved ones for so long, the game is just as fun for solo players, and they still have the island residents to talk to.
Interacting with the virtual villagers can be equally as amusing as playing with other people, as junior Sacha Gilbert learned early on in the game.
“I remember logging on on my birthday, and they had thrown a birthday party for me. It was pretty funny, since I couldn’t have an actual party because of quarantine,” Gilbert said.
At first glance, Animal Crossing: New Horizons may come off as a bland game that grows repetitive after a few hours of playing, but there is a reason the hype for it is so big and why people keep coming back to it. Earning Nook Miles, the new currency for special items, catching rare creatures to fill the museum, and creating a beautiful island will leave players fulfilled and craving more for weeks to come.
“There’s always something to do in this game. Even when you’ve grinded and collected abundant amounts of resources, you can even chill in the game,” Do said. “I could watch my cute little character just visit other islanders for hours on end.”