‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ to Launch on Nintendo Switch
“Animal Crossing” is probably not what immediately comes to your mind when I say video game. If you are looking for an adrenaline-inducing adventure or a bloody, gory first-person shooter, this game may not be your cup of tea. This game has no leaderboard, no power ups, and no body count. If you are not familiar with it, think “The Sims” meets “Minecraft,” or something like that.
The development of an “Animal Crossing” game for the Switch was confirmed by Nintendo in Sept. 2018. “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the Nintendo Switch is the newest game in the “Animal Crossing” series. “New Horizons” was originally set to launch in late 2019, but Nintendo has since pushed the release date into this year. This is the first game in the “Animal Crossing” series made for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest system which has been around since March 2017. Of course, the game also runs on the Nintendo Switch Lite, the more compact version of the console which came out more recently in Sept. 2019.
In addition to “New Horizons,” Nintendo is releasing a special “Animal Crossing” themed Switch this March. This Switch is sold separately from “New Horizons” and comes out a week before the game on March 13. If you have not yet purchased a Switch and enjoy “Animal Crossing,” this could be the console for you!
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was showcased on Nintendo Direct, the official source for Nintendo news. This nearly 28-minute video was live-streamed on Feb. 20 and previewed some of what the game has to offer, from online play to DIY customization to mystery island tours. In the Direct video, “New Horizons” is marketed as Nook Inc.’s Deserted Island Getaway Package. It is clear that Nintendo knows what players want: a vacation from reality.
The “Animal Crossing” experience is about escaping reality. The games have a certain contagious optimism about them, and the soundtrack is therapeutic. Players retreat to “a peaceful island where it is the little things that count, like mingling with neighbors, designing [a] home, and simply enjoying life.” Why go to therapy when you can stay in bed all day playing “Animal Crossing,” am I right?
At the start of the game, you are plopped into “a deserted island positively teeming with nature’s bounty.” Disclaimer: While the island is devoid of human life, it is far from deserted. Friendly animals teeter about. You pick a spot for your tent, which you can later upgrade to a house. From here, you can collect materials of all kinds to “make your island your dream home.” Oh, and just one more thing: your neighbors are anthropomorphic animals. I promise it is not nearly as strange as it sounds. Do I have your attention yet?
In this article, I would like to highlight some of my favorite features of “New Horizons” from what Nintendo has leaked thus far. Soon, you might find yourself also unable to resist the allure of Isabelle’s beady eyes and kind smile.
What I look for in a video game is customization. I love to make avatars, create outfits, shape landscapes, and design interior spaces. “New Horizons” gives the player more freedom to customize than any other game in the series. With the Nook Phone, players can alter the terrain of their island and build pathways. “New Horizons” also includes craftable items as well as item customization. Players can create custom designs to decorate their furniture and, using the NookLink app on their smartphone, import designs from “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” or “Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.”
Though “Animal Crossing” might seem like a game to be played in solitude, the social aspects are growing. With a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, players can connect “Animal Crossing” to wifi to invite other players to their island or to visit other players’ islands without accessing the same local network. The NookLink app also enables “New Horizons” players to chat online via voice or text.
If you are not subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online, you can still enjoy local multiplayer benefits. With one island per console, up to eight profiles on your Nintendo Switch can play on the same island in “New Horizons.” With Party Play, up to four players can play at once from one Switch with one player functioning as the leader at a time.
So, are you a fan of “Animal Crossing” yet? “New Horizons” is available now for preorder. It costs $60 and can be purchased in the Nintendo eShop or at other retailers where Switch games are sold. Most pre-order bonuses, which come with a preorder at no extra cost, (such as the exclusive Animal Crossing journal from Target,) are no longer available. The only bonus that is still available is Game Stop’s “Double Sided Poster,” but Game Stop said the “quantities are extremely limited.”
If you do not think “New Horizons” is worth your money, “Animal Crossing” Pocket Camp” is a free, mobile alternative. If you are a poor college student like me and want to purchase “New Horizons,” taking a trip to Walmart with your spare change might be your best bet. Walmart is selling “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for a discounted price of $50, but keep in mind, this deal only applies to in-store purchases that are made on the launch date, March 20.