Game Review: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)

We’ve waited a long time for this but it was well and truly worth the wait. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has arrived on the Nintendo Switch and it is as wonderful as fans could have hoped for.

Take a beloved formula, stick to it solidly but add so much extra content that it’s easy to lose hours and hours to the game. Then lose hours and hours, the next day and so on and so on.

If you’ve ever played an Animal Crossing game before then you’ll feel right at home the very moment you boot it up. It’s comfortingly familiar in sound and visual style.

Whereas previous games stuck to a town where your character moved in, here it has you jetting off to previously deserted island. All courtesy of Tom Nook and his new business plan, something that you as ‘island representative’ will become integral too.

Once you’ve landed, you’ll find yourself having to rough it with a small patch of land and a tent. In classic Animal Crossing style, you can kit out the inside of your tent but space and items are pretty limited early on. Which brings us to the goal of the game.

Turn your island into a thriving and bustling community with houses, shops and more for everyone to enjoy. It’s wonderfully simple but also has more than enough depth to entrance players looking for a bit ‘oomph’ to their game.

That ‘oomph’ comes from crafting, something you’ll be doing a hell of a lot of but only if you have the right ingredients. Ingredients like wood, stone, weeds and more to not just kit out your home but the island itself.

Alongside that are the more traditional mainstays of Animal Crossing; fishing, bug collecting, fossil hunting etc. Stuff that is as much Animal Crossing as the soft, relaxing music and overtly comical dialogue between island residences is.

Of course, all of this plays out in real time. Choose your island map from four random options, where your home is going to go and which part of the hemisphere you want to live in. This last one is very important as it effects seasons and climate so if you want your island to reflect where you live within the real world, choose the hemisphere you live in. There is no going back, once chosen this will be the island and the experience for everyone who plays on that specific Switch.

This, and that the in-game time reflects your own, is what Animal Crossing is all about. Play at 10am, 4pm or 2am and you’re likely to find different things to do or catch.

Of course, if you’re getting a bit bored with bug hunting then series mainstay Tom Nook is on hand, along with his nephews Timmy and Tommy and island residents, to get you working away.

Be prepared to owe Tom Nook a lot of money as you play, upgrades to your home cost and Tom Nook doesn’t do anything for free. Even your getaway package, the bundle that got you to the island needs to be paid off. However, considering you’re new and with no tools, Tom Nook will accept a different currency for this (and this alone – everything afterwards costs the Animal Crossing currency of Bells).

This is where New Horizons introduces something new… namely Nook Miles. A reward system stored in another new feature…the NookPhone.

Nook Miles rewards you for doing tasks around the island, stuff you would do anyway and can be redeemed against a number of unique things and bonuses.

One such thing is a ticket that allows a once-daily trip off your island to a random different island. There you can harvest its resources and even find fish and bugs not available on your patch of land.

So much to do and so much to enjoy and we’ve not even spoken about online and local multiplayer which allows up to 8 players to hang out together.

Slowly as you put more and more time into the game, more and more becomes available. What seems pretty basic at first, transforms into a really deep game. One that rewards you for your investment and makes this an essential Nintendo Switch purchase.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
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