A spring filled with endless hours of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (AC:NH) is coming to an end, and the rainy season approaches. I can tell already that I’ll be hooked on this game well into the summer. Thank you Nintendo for creating such a huge amount of enjoyment for just 5,980 yen.
But when I looked at my play time I’ll admit I was a little startled. I’ve played the game every day since it was released on March 20th, and have now reached over 270 hours of play time. I’ve fallen asleep playing a number of times so the actual number of hours I’ve spent playing the game will be a little less, but it’s still probably more than I’d care to admit.
I have only one thing to say to those of you who have a Nintendo Switch but haven’t picked up AC:NH, and that’s “why not!?” But at the same time, I’d like to warn you about what you’ll be getting into.
So I want to tell you all how AC:NH gets you hooked, from the perspective of someone who got sucked in a long time ago.
They finally got me to dress up
Most of the AC:NH players I know start to play around 8 or 9 in the morning. They tend to play for 10 minutes to an hour or so before they head out to school or work.
I check the daily turnip price, dig for fossils, and check what items are on sale that day
AC:NH has countless ways to keep you entertained every day. But of course most of these things can be found in any modern game.
AC:NH has all these mechanisms, but also presents them so well it makes you want to keep playing.
For example, normally I would have no interest in dressing up my avatar. In fact, I’m quite well known for being a “naked player.” And yet every morning I start up AC:NH, check the latest items in the clothes store and choose my outfit based on the weather, time, occasion, etc.
For the first few days playing the game I was completely unclothed
In the end it was the island’s environment that changed my mind. And they did a great job at changing it, that’s for sure. The weather changes daily. The way the wind blows through the trees and grass feels different every day, so I might wake up one morning and think to myself, “wow, it’s windy today.” If it’s cloudy then I might think, “I won’t be able to see the stars tonight.”
And one day I woke up to find the island covered in a beautiful layer of snow, and realized I was thinking, “I’m going to need more than just a tank-top today.”
Doesn’t it look too cold to have my knees out?
It actually makes rainy and snowy days fun. The residents on your island dress appropriately, using umbrellas and woolly hats when the weather takes a turn for the worse. I decided to join the animals and use an umbrella too.
I check the store every day just in case there’s a new cute umbrella in stock. I’m now a certified umbrella junkie
I change into pajamas every night and get dressed every morning, even though there’s no one to see me do it. I love the sound of my slippers on the hard flooring, it’s so comforting
My island is in the southern hemisphere, so it’s winter in June. I get anxious when I’m outside and not wearing warm clothing. This isn’t like me at all...!
The other day, one of the animals said it liked what I was wearing. I was so happy!
This is how I end up in the cycle of thinking “I need clothes for tomorrow” and “I need to make some profit from my turnips”... And so the daily routine continues.
You don’t have to do any of this
And what happens for these players after the morning routine? That’s as varied as the players themselves.
There are some who have their fill of the game after the 10 minutes in the morning and leave it until the next day. And then there are some, like me, who like to talk to the animals and give them presents. There are even some who make sure to buy the cutest wrapping paper from the store and carefully wrap each present.
Even I’ve started wrapping the more important presents in their own wrapping paper
Some people unwind before bed with a little fishing. And it can be fun to wander around the island at night when you can’t sleep. There’s even some background music that only plays in the middle of the night (I recommend playing between 3 am and 5 am).
You might find that one or two of your residents are also nocturnal
Luckily the museum is open 24/7
This “open all hours” feeling really helped me get through this past spring
Then there are the seasonal events. We had the Wedding Season event in June. The players have been tasked with taking the perfect wedding photos for the happy animal couples. You can take part every day if you want, and if you’re not interested at all then you don’t have to take part at all.
It looks like I’m thinking “From next week you’re on your own!”
That’s right, the vast majority of events and activities in AC:NH are completely optional. There aren’t even any penalties for walking around naked.
For example, I have no interest in growing the “blue rose,” one of the rarest items in the game. Even though I have to admit I admire the ones my friends grow on their islands. Maybe I’ll get the urge to grow one myself one day.
The game gets boring when you’re told what to do
This freedom makes recommending an “optimal route” in AC:NH quite difficult. This is because the game can get quite boring when someone tells you what to do, and so you likely won’t play for as long as you would normally.
Somebody built a “Shining Park” on my island. ...I thought it was a bit tacky at first, but the quality is actually quite high
It’s not the sort of game that has one “killer feature” that will make you want to keep playing for hours on end. Instead, it’s the kind of game in which the player decides that they want to do something, and then they carry on until they achieve their goal. If you decide you want to dress up, the residents will compliment you. If you want to grow flowers, they’ll bloom beautifully.
We all fall into a trap of our own design, so it’s one we don’t feel like getting out of any time soon.
When will my late night wanderings end?
But then, do we really get hooked on the game by choice? Is it not that the design of the game is so slick, that every detail is so ingeniously designed? I think the fact that I continue to play other games without clothes on but put so much effort into my outfits in AC:NH proves that their efforts have not been in vain.
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This article was originally written in Japanese. All images and content are directly from the Japanese version at the time of publication.