The Nintendo Switch launched in 2017. And from the day it was announced, there’s always been one game that fans have practically begged to see on the system: a new iteration of the Animal Crossing series. This month, those fans finally got their wish. You’ve probably seen it all over the internet by now: Animal Crossing: New Horizons has officially landed. The first of the series to hit the Nintendo Switch, it’s positively taken over, thanks in part to the large number of people stuck inside with nowhere to go.
But what is Animal Crossing? And why should you care? More importantly, why is your social media feed suddenly filled with cute little animal avatars and memes about islands?
Adorable animal people, ornate houses, decorative outfits and hilarious screenshots are everywhere you look on social media. People complain about some sort of tyrant named Tom Nook. There’s a frenzy over earning “Bells” to pay him off.
What’s it all about, anyway? If you can’t figure out why you should be interested in the animal community-building adventure, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover why so many people are suddenly so obsessed with this Nintendo Switch video game.
What Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a simulation game that gives you mayoral or town representative powers over an island community full of animals. That means you can make decisions for your animal compatriots, such as what your town theme song will be, what your town flag will look like, and where your new animal neighbors will put their houses once they move in. If you’re doing your job correctly, there will be a seemingly endless stream of lovable animals moving to your island to make it more colorful and diverse.
As in-game time passes, the seasons will change and new faces will come and go. You’ll make new animal friends, buy and upgrade a house, create some awesome outfits, collect bugs, fossils, and furniture, go fishing, and make a virtual life in this world. Think The Sims, but decidedly more streamlined and with a heavier focus on being absolutely adorable. Plus, unlike in real life, your animal neighbors’ personalities or schedules won’t drive you up the wall.
What you will be doing, however, is deciding how to live your best life. New Horizons sets you up as a new resident on an island, where you start out life in a simple tent and work your way up to a custom home as you enjoy an “island getaway package.” It’s a lot like living real life, but much happier and far more fun. So, on second thought, not that much like real life, at least at this particular moment in human history.
What Can You Do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
That’s really up to you! Your main “goal” (though there technically isn’t one) is to make the best island you possibly can. You want to make it enticing for other animal friends to come hang out. That means making attractive homes, interacting with the animals who come to live on your island, and putting down cash (Bells) to continue improving the virtual quality of life.
At any given time, you can go fishing, shake trees to collect different types of fruit, catch bugs, dig up rocks to collect fossils, visit a museum to see the creatures you’ve caught on display, craft clothing… the list goes on. It’s all about making a new life for yourself.
The game’s clock moves in real-time so it’s meant to be a slow-going affair. As the days tick away and you generate money to improve buildings and open better shops, there’s a real sense of accomplishment that comes with your new little world. You truly feel as though you’re growing with your island.
In short, it’s a casual game that can be made to feel hardcore very quickly. If you’re only interested in exploring a fun world with animals you can interact with, you can do that. If you’re more interested in min-maxing how many Bells you can earn and making the coolest, most efficient town possible, you can do that as well.
It’s all up to you, and that’s the fun of the game.
Where Can You Play Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Currently, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available on Nintendo Switch. It’s a Switch-exclusive, so it won’t be making its way to other platforms. Historically, Animal Crossing has been a Nintendo-only franchise and got its start on the GameCube. It’s made several appearances since then on the Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. There’s also a separate mobile app you can download and play for free: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. It’s available for both iOS and Android. If you want New Horizons, however, you’ll have to pony up for a Switch.
If you’re really obsessed with Animal Crossing, Nintendo has released a limited-edition Animal Crossing Switch console. The Joy-Con controllers come in beautiful blue and green pastel colors and the console and dock’s designs are inspired by this beloved video game.
The game itself is available on Amazon or from your video game retailer of choice.