Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch on March 20, and it’s quickly become a cultural touchstone. With so many people at home and gaming, its release came at a perfect time.
The Best-Selling Game in the Series
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was an overwhelmingly successful hit with fans, and it quickly sold out after its release in Japan. In fact, 1.88 million copies sold within the first three days in Japan. It’s also worth noting those numbers from Famitsu don’t include digital download sales, which are very popular right now given the current global health situation.
In North America, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the best-selling game of March 2020, and is now the second best-selling game of 2020. It’s surpassed other popular Nintendo titles, like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018), in launch sales.
In Europe, New Horizons remains at the top of the best-seller list after more stock became available to retailers. To offer some perspective, the sales figures are higher than all previous entries combined, and more than three times higher than the 3DS-exclusive Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
The Animal Crossing Experience
The latest installment was released just as people were warned to stay indoors, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Consistent with other Animal Crossing titles, New Horizons is popular due to its cozy, family-friendly gameplay, and the new addition to the series is just beautiful.
Reviewers have been gushing over the Animal Crossing: New Horizons “Island Package Getaway,” and with good reason. You begin your vacation on a deserted island, with nothing more than the clothes on your back. You’re free to do as you please. As the player character, it’s up to you to advance your deserted island into a tropical paradise. You can go about it at your own pace, and you set the rules.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can interact with friends and family you can’t see in person right now. And if your friends don’t play, that’s fine, too. There are plenty of people online who love to trade furniture items and will talk turnip prices with you for hours.
There’s also an entire Discord community dedicated to Animal Crossing. Reddit has a massive thread where people exchange friend codes—an invite mechanism that allows remote players to connect and play. The entire community is super helpful and friendly, which makes sense because there’s so much more to experience with other players in the game.
There’s still plenty to do if you like to play solo. One of my favorite things about New Horizons that’s a significant upgrade from Animal Crossing on GameCube is the different ways in which you can interact with the residents on your island.
Residents will send you letters, give you new nicknames, throw birthday parties, and even sing for you! There’s always something new, and talking to the residents of my island never gets old.
Residents interact with their environments in many different ways. They interact differently with other residents depending on their personality types, of which there are eight. They’ll also interact differently with one another. They have emotions. Sometimes, they’ll be happy or sad with each other, and it’s up to you to quell any disputes that might arise.
However, that’s what I love about this game—everything feels interconnected, and it’s relaxing to sit down to at the end of the day.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, everything is impermanent and it’s easy not to stress over the imperfections. Placed a house in a location you’re not happy with? No big deal! You can move it later in the game.
You have the control and time to enjoy renovating your island exactly the way you want it. Due to the global lockdown, people have more time to play games than ever. And the latest entry in the Animal Crossing franchise offers a relaxed gaming environment to spend time in.
Every day in-game, you’re faced with something new to explore. You’ll wake up to new items in the shops, new hybrid flowers, a new recipe washing up on the shore, new campsite visitors, and random salespeople with exclusive items. It breaks up the monotony of being cooped up in your real home, day after day.
There are also plenty of events Nintendo provides for players. Couples are arranging marriage ceremonies on their islands, and graduates can invite friends to in-game graduation ceremonies. Families can play together on the same console, and you can even gift your mom a belated Mother’s Day Mug!
Nintendo is doing a great job of providing additional events and bug-fixes that will keep you playing for hours at a time.
On the flip side, there are plenty of things in Animal Crossing you can’t control (unless you time travel, of course).
Much like your routine in the real world, there’ll be times when you’re forced to just wait until the next day. The shops close at night, and the turnip market is only available for one week before it resets. Sometimes, you have to wait a full day before you can enter a store that’s undergoing reconstruction.
This feeling of relaxed impermanence is what makes the Animal Crossing series so special, though. It’s interesting to see players expressing disappointment or surprise when the cherry blossoms end in April and realizing it’s the fleeting nature of time-gated events that makes them so special. There’s an inevitable sense of change—some of which you can and cannot control. It’s a really unique experience.
For most, it’s just the right balance of structure and freedom. It’s even great for people who don’t usually play video games. Audrey, an 88-year-old grandmother who played 3,500 hours of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, picked up Animal Crossing: New Horizons with the help of donations from fans shortly after its launch.
Nintendo seems to have acknowledged the hype surrounding Audrey’s playtime on New Leaf with a brand-new villager in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Many players believe a coral-colored wolf named Audie is a reference to Audrey.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is easy to learn and good fun for the whole family. It’s no wonder so many people are getting together to play a perfect island getaway during these troubling times.