It's weird that it's been so long since I've played a mainline Animal Crossing game. The original was one of my favorite Gamecube games of all time. I sunk so many hours into that one that I actually took a break from GAMING for a couple of years afterward. And then I played a bunch of that game again when I got back into gaming, haha.
Oddly, I actually bought the 3DS entry when it came out because my wife and I had listenend to a podcast where Brie Larson talked it up so much that we were both interested. Then I ended up giving the game to my wife and I never actually played it.
But Nintendo couldn't have picked a better time to launch New Horizons. With everyone shut in their homes due to Coronavirus, this thing flew off shelves. So much so that I couldn't get a copy for my birthday last month. But finally I was able to track a copy down, and spend some time with it.
Like many of Nintendo's first party offerings this generation - think Smash Ultimate or Mario Kart 8 - it feels like New Horizons is meant to be a sort of DELUXE EDITION of everything the series has done before. Which is fine. If you want to play the ultimate version of Animal Crossing in 2020, you're in luck.
Animal Crossing is of course a game about "nothing," at its heart. It's a sandbox and you can really just do whatever you want. Sure, there are goals. But it's up to you to progress that story, or just plant pretty flowers or whatever you feel like. Back in 2010 or so when I played the GCN game again last, I spent so much time doing nothing but just trying to build the best collection of NES games in my village. My neighbors hated me because I never talked to them, and my house was full of cobwebs. I ducked out on Tom Nook because I owed him a lot of bells.
To start off New Horizons, I only had one thing in mind: get an aquarium onto my island ("Pandora") ASAP. So that's what I've been focusing on in the early game. I immediately built a fishing pole and started bringing fish to Tom Nook, and then to Blathers. It's been super fun exploring the island and catching NEW fish (hello, squid!).
In the meantime, I've racked up Nook Miles and crafted new things. I paid off my tent, and a house is being constructed. The museum is coming to town soon. I took a trip to a random island and brought by coconuts to sell. I'm truly having a blast doing nothing too serious. And that's exactly what makes the AC series so good.
You can dismiss Animal Crossing as "Busy Work: The Game," but I'm okay with that. And sometimes that's what your brain needs. These little menial tasks, each one checked off as "done."
Now I've got a house instead of a tent, and the museum is under construction. I've been gathering building supplies for Timmy Nook to help get the visitor's center set up. None of this sounds exciting, but that's the point. This is a true relaxation game, and I love it.
It was an interesting night on Pandora. First Tom Nook announced that the museum was open. So me and my wife went and looked at the aquarium for a while. Good stuff, but lots of work today - lots of empty tanks.
Then I got a visitor who dropped in to gift me some iron nuggets so I could get the Shop built with Timmy Nook. He also gave me some extra gifts and bells, which was super nice.
After that, I received an invitation from my buddy's daughter to come check out her island. When I got there, I found she had pulled a prank on me and wouldn't actually let me in, instead demanding that I leave a gift of cherries and get out. Haha.
Then she invited me back, and gave me free reign over her orchards where I was able to pick up a bunch of coconuts, pears and apples to bring back and sell for big bucks. I'll tell ya, there's always something to do in New Horizons.
I think the initial excitement of "NEW ANIMAL CROSSING GAME" has worn off, and now I'm not pulling myself in every direction to do stuff constantly. Instead, the game now feels like a more gradual paced thing. Something I'll jump into briefly each night to see what's up. Maybe have one specific goal each night kind of thing.
I'm working on recruiting some new villagers right now, and I've had three say they're coming, but they haven't arrived yet. I did upgrade my house, though.
I spoke too soon. Things are happening. I built a bridge. Three new villagers are moving in soon, so I'm out collecting furniture for their houses. So things are happening. I guess I don't like the days when there's nothing really happening, and I'm just waiting for a construction to finish up or whatever. But yeah. This game is a good time suck when it's working out right.