Animal Crossing New Horizons: the good, the bad, and the nostalgic

Hannah Holliday, Copy Editor

Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH) has taken the world by storm since its release on March 20. While the game is beloved by many and has many positive features, there are issues that players wish to be fixed.

Compared to past Animal Crossing games, the graphics in New Horizons are the best we’ve seen yet. Character models are less blocky, animations are smoother, and shadows are more accurate.

There is something for everyone that plays ACNH. The fact that players start their island as a blank slate and the addition of terraforming and  outdoor furniture gives designers an outlet and all players the freedom to have an island that looks exactly how they want it to. Any player, even those that feel like they aren’t creative, can build a beautiful island with the tools given to them. There are also more advanced tools for designing clothes; more styles, more color palettes, and the ability to easily share creations.

For the players that love collecting, there are more fossils, bugs, fish, and paintings to collect and display in the newly designed, gorgeous museum. 

There are also many features that add immersiveness to the game and show an amazing attention to detail. Furniture items can interact with other items and the space around them; fans blow air and cause other items such as plants to move as if there is an air current. Ironing boards let out steam, windows open and close, umbrellas can spin, balls bounce, and light reflects off of objects. The sound of players walking on floors changes depending on whether they are wearing shoes, socks, or are barefoot, and it also sounds different types of flooring such as tile and carpet. 

While these details show the effort that went into creating the game, there are many aspects that leave players feeling like the game is unfinished.

There are many annoying imbalances in ACNH. During the Bunny Day event, the eggs that spawned instead of resources were over-spawned and greatly impacted natural gameplay. Sea bass and black bass are the two most common fish, but they spawn so often that at times it feels worthless to fish at all, especially on big fish mystery islands. When resources are scarce, the fact that there can only be one island per switch becomes more difficult to handle. Multiple profiles can be created, but they must all share the same island, and, therefore, all the resources. What makes sharing an island even worse is that the person who played first and created the island has the most control. Though all players can unlock terraforming, Nook Miles, and other important features, the first player is the only one that can name the island, build bridges and inclines, choose where buildings are placed, etc. 

Many beloved characters and items seem to be missing and data miners are unable to find them in the game’s code. Arguably the best furniture item in the game, froggy chair, is absent along with many tropical island fruits that were introduced in Animal Crossing New Leaf, items that could be obtained from deep sea diving, and town ordinances. Brewster and his café, along with Dr. Shrunk, Tortimer, Gracie, and many others are nowhere to be found.

Fans have hope that missing aspects will be introduced in further updates. With Leif, Redd and Rover being included in the Nature Day/ May Day update, Reese and Cyrus being announced for the Wedding Season update, and data miners finding references to gyroids and vegetables in the game’s files, there is hope that other characters and items will be added in the future.

Even with this hope, it is disappointing that Nintendo released ACNH without many of the Animal Crossing franchise’s most beloved features. While it’s true that these features might be implemented later on, it gives the impression that the game is unfinished and many fans fear that some future updates may be put behind a paywall.

Overall, ACNH is a beautiful game and the perfect time “waster” in these uncertain times. It is a game that I can spend hours playing each day, and it gives me and many others motivation to wake up day after day. I definitely recommend this game to children who are just starting to play video games and new players to the Animal Crossing franchise; the reading level is low relative to many other games, though there is a fair amount of text, and ACNH is aimed at players that haven’t played much of the franchise. While it doesn’t have the nostalgia that Animal Crossing veterans were hoping for, we will always come back to being in debt to a tanuki, even without some of our beloved features.

Animal Crossing New Horizons is available only for the Nintendo Switch and while Switches and physical copies are difficult to obtain because of social distancing mandates and shipping delays, a digital copy can be purchased anytime from the eShop for $59.99 and many Animal Crossing fans are keeping tabs on Switch and game restocks, namely @ACPocketNews on Twitter. Getting your hands on this game is well worth the effort.