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Review: ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Both Delights And Disappoints Compared to ‘New Leaf’

  • by Cyrus Oliver II
  • 2 Months ago
  • Comments Off

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch has been out for nearly a month, so what took me so long in writing this review? Well, to start off, I wanted to make sure I experienced enough of what the game has to offer before delivering a solid opinion on it.

Moreover, I’ve been sucked so deeply into the world of New Horizons that I’ve had little time for anything else. Even with a full work schedule, I’ve managed to log over 100 hours in the latest entry in Nintendo’s quirky life simulator. I almost felt my review would be pointless, too – the game has received so many accolades already, even breaking sales records as millions of people around the globe are under quarantine amidst the current pandemic. So what feedback do I have that could possibly add to the conversation?

If you don’t already know – the game is a masterpiece. And if you haven’t already bought a copy for yourself and every member of your family – you should. Like, NOW. This is the kind of game that will be moving multiple Switch consoles even within one household. If Nintendo releases a Switch Lite Animal Crossing-themed variant bundled with the game, I will double-dip. Heck, I might even buy three.

Hopefully that’s a big enough endorsement of the game and makes my feelings clear. But if you really must know why, a lot of it comes down to the game’s crafting system. You start out on a deserted island with a few animal friends and camping supplies – from there on you basically have to create everything yourself from scratch whether it be a necessary tool like a fishing rod or something as simple as a yard decoration. And there are hundreds of DIY recipes you can learn to create even more stuff.

If that isn’t enough – the game also feeds you a never-ending supply of goals to reach and tasks to complete in order to accrue points which can be used to buy things in the game or to purchase boarding passes to fly to other islands. It may not sound particularly thrilling on paper – but trust me, it is.

Beyond the crafting system and ongoing tasks, you also have a museum to fill up with fossils, insects, and aquatic animals. Plus there’s a landscaping feature you can unlock that lets you personally design your island to your heart’s content. Not to mention the simple yet addictive Stock Market feature that uses turnips as currency.

Maybe Animal Crossing isn’t your thing, and that’s fair enough – but you can’t say the game doesn’t offer you enough things to do. There is always something to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I could quite literally go on for days about why I love this game. And I don’t even have to, you can watch hundreds of hours of streaming from players across the world who have been swept up in the Animal Crossing craze.

And yet, amidst my own enjoyment of New Horizons and all the praise surrounding it, I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t disappointed me in some ways. Which usually goes without saying – nothing in life is perfect. But with New Horizons some of its imperfections are less understandable because the game was delayed and yet it lacks features that were available in its predecessor Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS.

Don’t get me wrong, New Horizons had made a lot of improvements over New Leaf. Most items automatically stack on top of each other in your inventory now. Storage space is easier to access. Filling out your island with new villagers is easier than ever. You can actually customize your character like in Happy Home Designer this time around. The graphics have obviously received a huge upgrade. A lot of the new characters like Flick and C.J. are wonderful additions to the roster. The online features are more or less the same.

But still… why can’t I swim? Where’s Kapp’n and his slew of mini-games or some equivalent thereof? Are there really no unbreakable tools? Because if this is going to be like Breath of the Wild where I have to keep crafting tools for all eternity, I’m going to be bummed.

I hate to be nitpicky, but some of these omissions are definitely noticeable the longer I play New Horizons. Of course, New Leaf didn’t come with all of its staple bells and whistles out of the box. It also took a while before we got the ‘Welcome Amiibo’ expansion/upgrade on the 3DS.

Currently, I’m able to overlook these flaws as I’m holding out hope that Nintendo will give us more content and improvements in future updates and DLC. (Between you and me, they also need to add the ability to craft multiple items at once!)

All that being said, the Animal Crossing experience has still reached its zenith with New Horizons and has taken such a large step forward for the series without changing or compromising its core philosophies, that it nonetheless deserves nothing less a perfect score.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch – Score: 10/10

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