Released March 20, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is yet another turbo-charged reboot to a beloved series, following recent games like Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Odyssey, and Pokemon Sword/Shield. The hype has been real for this game; seriously, I haven’t seen Twitter this excited for a game since before everyone found out Death Stranding was bad.
Here’s the rundown: it’s exclusive to Nintendo Switch, available both physically and digitally, and runs about 60 USD for either.
So, the cons: if you’re looking to dodge that hefty price tag by waiting for a sale, think again. Nintendo games almost never go on sale, and the time it takes for their prices to decrease is insurmountable, so if you want the game, be prepared to bite the bullet and pay full price. Breath of the Wild was released in March of 2017 and is still 59.99 everywhere games are sold.
If you’re into beating things quickly, this game is not for you. The amount of progress you make is practically a snail's pace compared to prior instalments of the series as well as similar life-simulation sandbox grinding type games like Minecraft, Breath of the Wild, and No Man’s Sky. In those games, your progress depends heavily on how much time you choose to put into it. You can “beat” what little storyline Minecraft has in under an hour, but you have the option to never have to participate in that story. Games like this are what you make of them, and that’s what makes the genre enjoyable to such a large demographic of people. Animal Crossing is no different in that respect (albeit a little primitive), but something that I consider to be a downfall is its limited playability at the start of the game. While you can gather a lot of resources, there are only so many trees or rocks on your island at a time, meaning after the initial 30 minutes of resource grinding, you’re left with a barren island that takes a few days to fully recover. If you’re unlucky enough not to acquire all of the resources you need in the first go around, you’ll either have to wait for regeneration, or spend 2,000 Nook Miles on a ticket to another island that may not even have what you’re looking for. I’ve been playing the game fairly consistently for the month since its release, and I haven’t made it far. I’ve only picked up the initial three villagers on my island (not counting the two you begin with), my museum is nowhere near complete, my house has been expanded once, and I’m still struggling to find enough resources for quests and tasks. Many people are farther than I am, but for the average Joe or Josephine on a school/working schedule, I’d say my progress is fairly average. There was also about a week long period where I was swept up in a sea of eggs and resource grinding was nearly impossible, which was a struggle and certainly impeded my progress, so watch out for promotional holiday gameplay.
Pros! It’s a lot of fun. While there’s a limited amount of time per day that can be spent actually playing the game enjoyably, what you do get to play is entertaining. The characters are adorable, and it’s cool discovering and comparing which animals you get versus your friends or other people online. One of its newest additions is a diverse customization tool that lets you create and import designs for clothes, wallpaper, flooring, rugs, etc. (It reminds me of the drawing system in DS title Drawn To Life, if you’ve ever played that) While I haven’t dived too deep into it, it’s an interesting feature and something with a lot of potential for in-game personality and personalization.
The biggest advantages are both what it has in common with and what sets it apart from games in the same vein. While it has that unlimited playability factor that appears in many other beloved games, it’s visuals, quirky cuteness, art style, seasonal updates, and solid place in a well-established franchise give it enough uniqueness to hold its ground amongst its peers and predecessors.
While I find myself struggling to outweigh the cons with pros, I can attest to the fact that it’s a good quality and entertaining piece of media. Is it worth $60 to me? I can’t say that I would buy it for that price again given the option. It definitely isn’t on par with other games I’ve paid the same price or even less for; however, it is fun, it is something I play often and enough to distract me from other games. I also acknowledge that out of the game’s main demographics, I don’t particularly fit into either. The simplicity of gameplay and the cutesy, rounded art style obviously appeals strongly to children, and its place in the Animal Crossing series appeals to the nostalgia of those who played all or some of the original games. I am not a child, nor did I ever play an Animal Crossing game before this one, so I admit that this game was not made with me in mind. However, as the average consumer and a seasoned gamer, I liked Animal Crossing as a whole and will continue to play it.