Animal Crossing vs The Southern Hemisphere
How Animal Crossing’s “summer” updates impact the other 10%
Life can be tough south of the equator. Around 800 million fellow homo-sapiens live below the belt. That’s a lot of people by any measure, but my Southern Hemisphere brothers and sisters still only make up around 10% of the global population. Chances are that most of you reading this right now are comfortably seated somewhere up north. And some of you might even possess north-south bias whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.
It is very tempting to launch into a broad discussion on the various impacts of this bias (right down to how maps have historically been drawn), but I have an even more important focus right now: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Yes, I have to acknowledge that Animal Crossing: New Horizons does cater for the Southern Hemisphere in one of its most important aspects: seasons. When you create an island at the beginning of the game, you can specify whether you want Northern or Southern Hemisphere seasons (no, our seasons aren’t the “reverse” of yours — it’s the other way around).
Recently, though, Nintendo dropped the first of their “free summer updates”. And at the time of writing, they’re a day or two away from deploying the second of these updates. You know where this is going, right? Free summer updates? Interesting assumption, Nintendo. Let’s explore what these updates mean for “the rest of us”.
WAVE 1: The Summer of Dis Content
In some respects, the first wave is actually more offensive than the second. Let’s take a look.
Swimming in the ocean
Lizzie Bestow recently recommended 10 things to do in New Horizons. I strongly related to her “chilling out in the sea, having a little cry.” Try swimming in the sea during a snowstorm. You might be a specific kind of person who masochistically shocks the body with sudden temperature changes to remain young and healthy. But for the rest of us, a casual swim isn’t exactly the go-to in the middle of winter.
Now, there are other updates in Wave 1 that are pretty handy — and if you do brave the frigid, terrifying winter ocean, you’ll come across all sorts of new creatures and objects to collect. Who knows, maybe your lust for riches and museum expansion is more important to you than the absurdity of winter swimming. No judgement.
WAVE 2: Summer Adjacent
The second wave isn’t so bad. It’s a bit more globally appropriate, at least.
There’s not much to say about this one. But I’ll explain my perspective through a recent terrifying incident: my Switch couldn’t load any games, and I thought it was totally stuffed. It turned out that there was an issue with the SD card. Fortunately my island was saved on system memory so I didn’t need to retread many hours of mortgage repayments. The heart-stopping incident did make me wonder if my island was saved as part of Nintendo’s cloud-save service. Evidently (given this update), it wasn’t. Please enable cloud saves for all you games, Nintendo.
Visiting other islands in your dreams
Nintendo are implementing a really cool feature here. A new character — Luna — will now visit you in your dreams. Not creepy at all. She’ll enable you to visit other folks’ islands. Or, to put it more accurately, dream-versions of their islands, which will prevent you from getting your sticky paws on their actual stuff and causing unknown havoc. This update is pretty cool; you’ll be able to bask in the glaring inadequacy of your own island design as you explore others’ great works.
August fireworks spectacular
Every Sunday in August, you’ll be treated to fancy fireworks shows. And you’ll be able to create your own, too! Nice. Thankfully, fireworks and parties during winter are very possible and might actually look pretty spectacular. Less fire hazard, too!
If you saw the headline of this piece and expected to get an article bashing Nintendo for not adequately catering to 10% of the world’s population, then I’m genuinely sorry. Sure, there’s some validity to the argument that global companies should be designing content for global audiences — and generally, I think Nintendo do that exceptionally well. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a slightly odd case given that so much of its content is based on the ebb and flow of the seasons. And making those seasons directly relevant to players greatly strengthens the experience for them.
If nothing else though, I hope this article does some consciousness raising. Spare a thought for those of us on the other side of the planet. Certain updates appear really bizarre for us, given the emphasis on the Northern Hemisphere experience.