By Jess Bazaldua
Web Content Contributor
For many of us, video games are used to escape the uncertainties of real life, usually through action, adventure, horror, and puzzles. Still, without any of the listed attributes, one game has risen to the top of our hearts and made an unfavorable situation easier to live through. This game is called Animal Crossing, with its recent installment, New Horizons, having been released on Nintendo Switch on March 20 of this year.
Those who are familiar with the franchise may already have found themselves engrossed in gameplay, but others may only hear rumblings and find themselves confused. In general, Animal Crossing allows you to create a character, build a home, and live a fictional life, much like the beloved Sims series.
However, all denizens of the village or island are made up of animals. With no other humans present, except for the occasional visiting friend, life in this game is peaceful. Loans are paid to a tanuki, or raccoon dog, bugs and fish are donated to the museum curated by a wise owl, and clothing is made by paw from the Able Sisters, a pair of porcupines.
Although the premise is the same across the series, upgrades and new developments exist for every installment. With New Horizons having been played for almost three months, an in-depth review is necessary for old and new fans alike.
Skin color and hair styles are available from the beginning
Those of us who have played this series for a while know that the main character avatar always had a light skin color with few available eye and hair color choices. Those who wanted to change their hair style used to go to an in-game beauty shop where a series of questions would be asked regarding what color and style were being sought.
This has changed exponentially, as avatar creation starts at the beginning of the game, with various skin tones available. As a person of color with occasionally unconventionally dyed hair, I am thrilled.
Up to eight humans can play together
In a time of social distancing and long-distance friendships due to college or adulthood, virtual interaction is the best. Whereas previous versions of the game only allowed one to three visitors, seven friends can join you on your island. Show them around your museum or help them find different objects at the shops. Talk in the in-game chat box or start a voice chat through Nintendo Switch Online while your characters go fishing or chill on the beach.
Older games that did not connect to the internet had the same constant gameplay. After New Leaf on Nintendo 3DS began releasing the occasional update, one of which included a campsite for revolving characters, fans began to speculate on what was to come. With New Horizons, updates can be expected every so often, likely around different holidays to create new experiences for all players. Currently, there is an update to the game which includes seasonal items for the upcoming Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice for the Southern Hemisphere.
Regardless if you are a longtime fan or a curious soon-to-be player, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is great to have in your Nintendo Switch collection. The serene graphics, cute characters, and promise of different activities make staying home a little easier. Playing to decompress after a long, stressful day of existence can soothe the soul.
Featured image by Jess Bazaldua.