Jason McFadden

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Animal Crossing Renewed Horizons

This month, I restarted playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons — on a new island from scratch! (I’m also still enjoying Xenoblade Chronicles.) Why would I do this again, after the game’s release in 2020, having built up a previous island over hundreds of hours?

First, because it’s a great game! Replay-ability is proof. Starting over, spending many more hours of escapism on a casual island, means the gameplay and setting must be compelling, and I really like it.

In fact, I’ve always liked Animal Crossing since its GameCube debut. Much later, I played Animal Crossing: New Leaf until starting anew with the current series entry, New Horizons. So yes, replaying now isn’t too surprising.

All that said, the reality is a bit more pragmatic. I didn’t have much choice but to start over. My old island still exists…on my older Switch. I bought a new Switch OLED that has a larger and more vibrant display on which to play a game like AC:NH. But due to the restrictions of moving to a new island, transferring your old island and/or Nintendo linked user account…ugh! It’s kind of a major hassle.

After reading in-game instructions and watching YouTube tutorials, my situation is such that I had to start a new island, so I did. 

I don’t mind so much because this second run should be better as I can now apply lessons learned from my first island. And though I was the island representative before, as I am now, this time I’m not sharing my Switch or my island with other residents.

It’s not that I dislike co-op play or socializing with in-game friends, it’s that now I need not be concerned with other players having agency (read/write capabilities) over the island. So now I can really do whatever I want on my very own tropical paradise — nice!

AC:NH is one of those types of games that works great on a handheld console with a small display. Most of the games I play are tailored to look good on a big living room TV but, though playable, look too diminished (squinty text) on a portable screen. So while I mostly play epic JRPGs on a giant monitor, I’m glad to now have easy access to my own Switch with its own Animal Crossing island.

This is a nice balance for a Nintendo Switch gamer. Sometimes I’m in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, a massive world laden with lore and heavy gameplay mechanics spread across an expansive display. Then I kick back with a super-chill island, casual gameplay, and the mild social life-sim of AC:NH on an up-close-and-personal screen. These are two sides of the coin of escapism.

Restarting Animal Crossing, new horizons are new again.

Have you played Animal Crossing: New Horizons?