I’ve Abandoned My Animal Crossing Island

Although I can’t say that I’m surprised at myself.

Kristen Poli
Aug 11, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

New Horizons is Nintendo’s latest installment in its wildly popular Animal Crossing series, made exclusively for their Switch console.

Considering the state of the world, New Horizons made a very timely arrival this past March. While its price tag was about $60 like the majority of Nintendo’s first-party games, its online and multiplayer options has been a godsend during this time of isolation and quarantine.

In fact, the Switch and New Horizons is one of the main reasons as to why Nintendo has enjoyed a more than 400% jump in profits this past fiscal quarter.

With daily and seasonal changes, as well as free DLC updates, to go along with the online multiplayer factor, the popularity of New Horizons is no surprise.

What is also not a surprise to me is that, despite all of its wonderful game play, I have abandoned my own game.

So, why have I lost interest?

To be fair, Animal Crossing was never one of my preferred franchises.

I know, I know, it’s an adorable series with adorable characters that boast about a laid-back, casual style of gaming while also having tons of collectibles to find.

Yet, while others have a great time making friends with their villagers and catching every fish available to put into their museum, I get bored easily without a more overarching goal. New Horizons seemed a bit different in that you were given a deserted island and the task of building it up into a bigger community, so I figured I’d give it a try.

That, and my sister and friends were having a great time visiting each other’s islands that I wanted in on the fun.

Games such as Stardew Valley and the Story of Seasons franchise give you an old farm and the goal of making it breathe life again while also making friends. I greatly enjoy those and New Horizons sounded similar enough.

And, for about a month, I did enjoy New Horizons. My villagers were quirky and cute, making me laugh and giving me a needed mental break from the pandemic panic happening around me. In fact, the pandemic is why so many picked up this game in the first place.

Yet, my island has been collecting dust since, I don’t know, maybe May. My villagers have probably all moved away, opting for a better future elsewhere, since New Horizons plays in real time.

And that’s the answer right there.

What’s the main difference between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley? The real-time mechanic.

I feel as if there is only so much one can do in a day in New Horizons. Collectibles like fish and bugs are usually locked behind certain hours (or seasons), and when buildings and shops are upgraded, they’re usually closed for the day. Players do time-jump, fixing the settings on their Nintendo Switch systems to make the internal clock believe that it’s the next day or next week in order to snag those rewards sooner rather than waiting.

While I’m not one to time-jump, I also feel at times as if the game play is halted due to this mechanic. There’s only so much fishing I can do before ultimately shutting off the game and, consequently, abandoning my villagers by forgetting to check on them the next day. Being locked into the real-time mechanic negates the main reason as to why I play video games — escapism.

I understand that the real-time mechanic of New Horizons has been beneficial to many people during this pandemic. It allows them to take their time, to relax and enjoy the game’s scenery, as well as letting them virtually visit friends and family who also have the game when they couldn’t otherwise.

As for me? I enjoy video games where I have a defined goal and I’m able to work towards and reach said goal on my own time. Let me escape to a world where I don’t have to abide by any rules of reality, including time.

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