Fun Times At Animal High
Will you be my neighbor?
Oh, Animal Crossing. Where I do even begin with such a lovely, innocent game. The last time I was able to dive into the world of Animal Crossing was back in the GameCube days. The first time I picked it up, I just remember thinking “Is this just the sims with cute furry animals?”. Well, yes and no. It’s something much more special than that. Animal Crossing has a charm and charisma that many games can’t hold a candle too. All that being said, let’s dive in.
The Island of Dr.Nook
This time around Animal Crossing: New Horizons has you picking your own damn island. It can be a little intimidating at first. Which island do I want? How many streams do I want? Don’t worry about all of that, just pick one and go have fun (plus, you can do some terraforming later down the road). Once you pick your island, it’s back to square one. This time, you start off in a tent. Courtesy of Mr.Nook and his nephews Timmy and Tommy Nook. If you’ve never played Animal Crossing, let me just say this right now: This is a LONG game. No, I don’t mean it’s an epic witcher-esque game beaming with side-quests and over 100 hours of playtime. I mean that you will not and cannot (unless you time travel, then shame on you), do everything you want to do when you want to do that. That’s a good thing!
I found myself so many times not wanting to put down my controller because I just wanted to shake some more trees or grab some more fish, yet I knew this is the kind of game you pick up everyday, give it an hour or two of your time and then put it down. Why? Because that’s the kind of game it’s meant to be and that’s part of what makes it so appealing. You will not be seeing any “Speedruns’ of Animal Crossing anytime soon, I promise you that.
Animal Crossing is very much the same and also very different from the original GameCube one. First off, the graphics are nice and smooth, no more jagged textures and load times are a breeze. I would say I never waited more than 2-5 seconds for a building to load or even when I was traveling to a different island. The world has the same cutesy art vibes, the same Charlie Brown-esque gibberish dialogue and the characters are just as zany and bubbling with personality as before. New Horizons took all the same things from before, improved upon them and then added some more.
Bugs and Fish and Nook Miles and Bells, Oh My!
I can’t even begin to scrape the surface of how much stuff there is in New Horizons and honestly, I don’t want to. This is a game of exploration and learning it as you go. I know a lot of reviews will give you “hints” or “tips” on how to do everything. This is not that review. I want you to dive into this world blindfolded and just watch everything unravel before you, as I did. I believe this is the best way to enjoy it. I did find myself watching some “hint” videos and I regretted it. They showed me things I now wish I discovered for myself. Ce la vie.
That being said, I can tell you the basics. Let’s start with BUGS. You love em, you hate em (Blathers sure does!), they’re here and they’re not going anywhere. Bugs populate the islands, butterflies, roaches, tartunatals! Ugh! Bugs will be a solid source of income for you in the very beginning. Some bugs fetch more than others and well some bugs..some bugs will make life a bit tense for you .
Fish have always been a staple of the Animal Crossing series. I’ve always enjoyed this series’ unique blend of mixing real life education with ridiculous fictional characters. Fish are everywhere and they’re going to bring you some serious bells (the in-game currency) if you have the right tools at your disposal. I found myself just wandering the edge of the beach waiting for a black shadow in the water to appear so I could cast out my net in anticipation of what to catch! Will it be a Seabass or a piece of trash? Who knows!
Bells & Nook Miles. Get used to those two words.They play a HUGE part in Animal crossing. Bells have always played a large part given they are the games main source of currency, but now there’s a new contender on the block and that’s the Nook Miles. I love the nook miles because they are seemingly endless, new challenges everyday and you basically get them for doing anything. Seriously. ANYTHING. Bells are pretty straightforward, you can buy stuff with them, sell stuff to get them and you need them to make sure you keep getting a bigger home. Nook miles on the other hand are far more interesting.
Nook Miles allow you to purchase unique items at the ATM, albeit shirts, hats, pants or fancy rugs. Nook Miles will get yah them. Nook Miles will also score you a nice “Nook Miles Ticket”, I’ll get into that later. Either way, the introduction of Nook Miles in Animal Crossing is a breath of fresh air and I’m always excited to see my phone light up when I complete a challenge. Oh yeah, you get a cellphone now in Animal Crossing, yah know, because it’s 2020.
Brother from another Island
Speaking of 2020, multiplayer is here and it sure is fun and kind of a pain in the butt in my opinion. As long as you have someone’s friend code, you can now have players be invited to your island (don’t worry, your precious trees are safe as long as they’re not your “Best friend”). I’ve had friends come and go from my Island and while it is fun seeing another human character wander around your personal island and interact with your creations, I can’t say it really changed anything for me. For the most part it’s because of the lack of any sort of voice chat ability. Simply having to type out every conversation you want to have is a bit of a buzzkill.
That being said, I highly recommend going to your friends’ islands to find new fruits and many other things that may not be unique to your island. I know what you’re thinking, what if you don’t have any friends? Have no fear! Animal Crossing already took this into account and created the “Nook Miles Ticket”, you know that thing I mentioned earlier? So, with the Nook Miles Ticket, you can use it at the Airport and it randomly generates an island filled with different kinds of fruits, fish, bugs and even new characters to invite to your Island! The tickets will run you about 2,000 Nook Miles a ticket, but it is absolutely worth it and I recommend going about 3-4 times a week if you can swing it. It’s a great inclusion to this series and hopefully they expand upon the idea more in the future. You can also find some very unique Islands (don’t look them up!).
I can finally settle down
My closing thoughts. Animal Crossing is truly a game about playing your way and also following the rules of the universe it’s created. I’ve barely touched the surface of this game and I’m already in love. While the initial allure of the game back in the GameCube day’s isn’t there anymore, because you know, Nostalgia. This game is bringing back to life a long lost love of mine and millions of other gamers. Most games come at a hefty price of $60 for possibly only 20-30 hours of your time. This game will last you years as long as you can commit to it. The possibilities are endless and the wittiness and charm of Animal Crossing will never cease to amaze me. Pick up Animal Crossing: New Horizons today, start your Island and as my mother used to say to me in times of crisis: “Take it one day at a time.”