Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Switch Review

If you love Animal Crossing, then New Horizons will no doubt take over your life.

By NathanB, Posted 19 May 2020

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was Nintendo's first major release of the year, and judging based on the virus situation, it could be one of the only ones. In this review, there will be laying out all of Animal Crossing: New Horizons' bliss, and few downsides.

If you are new to the series, you are probably wondering what Animal Crossing: New Horizons is? Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be best described as a life simulator. Climb aboard a plane and start a new life on a remote island with an abundance of animal friends to accompany you. During your time on your new island, you'll work together with Tom Nook to help build this once desolate island into something bustling with life, animals and interior and exterior designs from your wildest imaginations. 

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the quality of the product is there. An abundance of minute details that can often go unnoticed is what makes this game. Little details such as small physical movements and actions of your character and villager. The noise of rain pattering on the roof of your home when inside, or the raindrops trickling down your house's windows. These are all tiny details, yet once you notice them, it will make you realise the passion that went into the attention to detail in this game. 

Animal Crossing, New Horizons, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

As well as this, the islanders that you have on your island all have their own impressionable personality that gives off memorable moments for the player. These moments and interactions can make the player genuinely love or loath an islander on their island. As if a fictional island and its inhabitants are a second home to your real home. It creates a feeling that the island is alive, with living beings going about their daily lives, even when you as the player are not around.

To separate new entries to a franchise from past entries, the next entry always needs to have more than what the previous one had. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sets out to create game-defining new features that will define the franchise for years to come. The Nook Phone is the hub of everything in New Horizons. It acts as a centre for all your apps. The additions of Nook Miles+ and the Designer Pro app gives players more reasons to return to the game daily, which is hugely important when a game doesn't have a set ending. Nook Miles+ rewards the player for completing daily challenges, as well as the Designer Pro app offers the opportunity to create your clothes or general designs, depending on how vast your creativity is. 

Most notably, the addition of the terraformer, which you will receive upon receiving a three-star island evaluation from Isabelle, allows so much room for customisation. This ability to terraform both land and waterscape on your island means that no matter how many times you return to New Horizons, you always have the potential to envisage a new idea of how something could look on your island, followed by potentially hours of crafting, shaping and manoeuvring around sections of your island. Every new addition to a franchise needs a game-changer, and with the terraforming ability, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has its game-changer.

However, unfortunately, no game is perfect, and that statement does stand true for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There are a few oversights in the game that could have easily been tweaked and still could potentially be tweaked in future updates someday.

Animal Crossing, New Horizons, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

If you have played New Horizons you will know all-to-well the feeling of forgetting a single item when crafting and having to go back inside your home, and then back out. This could be solved by allowing access to your home storage through the crafting tables on your island at all-times. On top of this, it can become very time-consuming to have to craft one item at a time. The obvious addition to allowing the crafting of multiple of the same item should be a no-brainer addition to the game.

Excess of dialogue for consistent tasks is an issue. Tom Nook especially has an excess of dialogue, just for simple tasks that players do daily, such as building or demolishing inclines. This could be solved by the ability to skip repeated dialogue or at the very least, fast-track it.

Lastly, and this is the biggest one. The bridge and incline cap hinders the players creative potential. It is not uncommon for players to plan out their entire island's layout before getting started, this meaning that most players won't find out about this bridge and incline cap until after they have planned their whole island out and invested millions of bells, only to realise that it all has to be scrapped upon hitting the limit.

The final points of critique are not so much critique but rather just pointing out how some things are. The online play on any Nintendo game has been a constant issue, and it is no different in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The excess dialogue crops up again, along a cut-scene that plays time someone visits your island. When you or a friend joins an island, there is little to do outside of giving them a tour. Once you've played New Horizons online once, there is little need to do it again. But, this is a minor complaint as said, as the single-player of Animal Crossing is the bread and butter of the series, and that is where most of the potentially hundreds of hours of enjoyment will be found.

Animal Crossing, New Horizons, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

In conclusion, if you love Animal Crossing, then New Horizons will no doubt take over your life.  The formula for Animal Crossing is not for everyone, but for many, the downtime is something that players relish creatively. The sales of New Horizons speaks for itself, this game is a love letter to the Animal Crossing brand, and despite a need for some quality-of-life improvements in some areas, this game is incredibly charming and captivating with potentially hundreds of hours of game-play for those willing to fully commit themselves to the experience.

Nathan Brennan

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Life Simulator, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2020-03-20

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