Kim Tsuyuki
Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor

Have you ever wanted to build an island town and be in constant debt to a raccoon? Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released in March of this year, revealed just how many people harbored this dream and the comfort it brought during the pandemic. It has been eight years since Nintendo released a game in the Animal Crossing franchise, so expectations were high, and the game did not disappoint. The New York Times has called it “the game for the coronavirus moment.” In August, Nintendo released the fact that 14.3 million copies of New Horizons have sold. Since then, the game has had steady sales and is on track to becoming Nintendo’s most sold Switch game, but the attention on Animal Crossing: New Horizons hasn’t stopped there.  

On Nov. 18, the nominations for 2020’s Game of the Year were announced. ACNH received a nomination alongside Bethesda’s Doom Eternal, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima, Supergiant’s Hades, and Naughty Dog’s Last of Us Part II. Most of the games nominated are very combat and story-driven. . . and then there’s Animal Crossing. Despite Nintendo’s game being the odd man out, it still managed to snag a nomination. 

How did it manage to get nominated, you may ask? Simple: ACNH has taken the pandemic by storm. The game was released a day after California issued a statewide stay-at-home order, and its release couldn’t have happened at a better time. With everyone stuck at home, what else was there to do? You could sit on your couch, trying to figure out the next thing to bake, or you could take a trip to a faraway island with two little raccoons named Timmy and Tommy. ACNH is also excellent for any type of gamer; it has a reward system for learning the basics. For example, during your first day, you can donate five different “critters” to Tom Nook. This will unlock the ability to chop down trees and water flowers as well as unlocking Blathers (my favorite non-playable character), who will come to your island and set up a museum!  ACNH also has a star system. If you’re a more hardcore completionist: the better your island’s reputation is, the more stars you have. When a player reaches three stars, they can invite world-renowned artist K.K. Slider to play on their island. Once your island reaches five stars, you get the special “lily of the valley” flowers and the ability to craft gold tools (which have more durability). You could also spend hours fishing if all you’re looking for is a peaceful break from life. 

An animal crossing character saying goodbye to another animal crossing character on their dock
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has served as a platform to bring people together during the pandemic.
Photo Courtesy of Eurogamer

One of the things that made ACNH a pandemic essential is its online multiplayer mode. If you have a friend that owns New Horizons, you can visit their island! When you visit a friend’s island, you can trade fruits, clothes, and other items. Your friend also gets the chance to show you around their island; it’s always adorable to see how their creative vision turned out. This multiplayer mode also opened up the ability for players to trade. An app called “Nookazon” (yes, it’s a play on the name Amazon) was created for players to trade goods in exchange for in-game currency or items. Nookazon allowed players to receive hard-to-find decoration recipes or fruit that were not native to their island (without this app, I wouldn’t have completed the ‘having all five fruits’ achievement). To echo what I said in my Among Us article, ACNH allows us to socialize with our friends while remaining socially distant. We can run around our friend’s nicely-decorated islands and send text messages saying how cute everything has turned out. I love filling that lonely co-void with running around in circles as a way to tell your friends to follow you.

While Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t very story-based or combat-heavy (I think running from wasps/scorpions/tarantulas is the most action this game gets) like the other games nominated for Game of the Year, it still deserved a nomination. As it says on The Game Awards’ “About” page, “We strive to recognize those who improve the wellbeing of the community and elevate voices that represent the future of the medium.” ACNH has done just that. The game has brought friends together during a time of distance and uncertainty. Nintendo has also listened to the community feedback as they recently added in more inclusive hairstyles. What looks like a simple little game on the surface has connected countless people and shown the power online multiplayer games can possess.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Nintendo Life

Author

  • Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

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