The Mystery Behind Animal Crossing’s Beloved Gyroids
These bizarre little creatures have a surprising — and creepy — origin story
Do you remember Animal Crossing’s decorative furniture figures called Gyroids? Despite them being quite spooky, their fancy sounds and dances added so much life to one's in-game house.
Gyroids are loved by a large part of Animal Crossing’s community, including me. Besides their funny looks and sounds, they certainly have a mysterious vibe around them. I could never fully grasp them as a kid, but still, my house always ended up full of them.
And so, I’m dedicating this article to one of Nintendo’s most elusive and enigmatic entities: the Gyroid.
What are Gyroids?
Gyroids are special furniture items available in most Animal Crossing games. They can be dug up after rainy or snowy days, similar to fossils. When activated, Gyroids move their body and make a specific sound which is often linked to their name (e.g.: “Croakoids” make a croaking sound like a frog).
With 127 different types in Animal Crossing: Wild World, Gyroids spark joy in the hearts of collectors. Because of that, a large chunk of the game’s player base appreciates them. You are hooked after collecting your first one, then you want to see how other Gyroids move and sing.
Despite being mostly furniture items, few Animal Crossing characters exist as Gyroids do. In the first game of the series (released 2001), a Gyroid is placed in front of the characters' house where he serves the purpose of saving the game and messaging the player. In the more recent games, a Gyroid character called “Lloid” was introduced to the game, where he serves multiple roles as a helper NPC. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the newest title of the franchise, is currently lacking these furniture items, but more about that later.
Origins of the Gyroid
You might be wondering about what Gyroids actually are. It seems they solely exist in the Animal Crossing franchise, although the game itself does not state much about them. They do, however, have a background story and it is a pretty scary one if you think about it.
In the Japanese version of the game, Gyroids are called Haniwa(はにわ), and they truly do resemble them. Haniwa(transl.: “Clay cylinder” or “circle of clay”) are grave figures created in historical Japan. It is assumed that they were built to protect and hold the soul of the deceased. Haniwa also represented the boundary between the realms of the living and the dead.
With the background story in mind, it becomes clear why you can only find Gyroids in the ground after a rainy or snowy day. When the soil is washed away, the old graves will appear on the ground.
According to one theory on the game, the funny sounds and movements of the Gyroids are the sounds of the trapped souls, trying to communicate with the outer world.
Gyroids in New Horizons
Unfortunately, the newest Animal Crossing game, New Horizons does not have Gyroids as furniture items, besides the construction foreman (Lloyd, who is an NPC of sorts).
It is unknown why Nintendo decided to cut them from the game, as they were loved by large swathes of the community and had already become one of Animal Crossing’s mascots. If you read through various internet forums around this topic, you’ll notice that many people expressed their disappointment with the lack of Gyroids.
One theory holds that there are no Gyroids since New Horizons is set on a deserted island where nobody ever lived, meaning that no graves were ever created. While this is interesting trivia, I doubt the game’s designers closely considered this angle.
There is reason to be optimistic, though. One unique aspect of New Horizons is that the game still receives updates as time goes on. Since the game's release in March 2020, players have already received a few major updates and more are coming.
Twitter User Ninji, an Animal Crossing data miner, found out that in the games program code there are hints that suggest Gyroids furniture items and a museum cafe with a Gyroid section.
It was hoped that with the recent fall update Gyroids would enter the game, though unfortunately, this did not happen. Only time will show if Gyroids will ever come to New Horizons, but the collected data suggest that they will appear sooner or later.
Ultimately, Gyroids and Animal Crossing are hard to separate. Their collectability sparks joy in players’ hearts and their sounds and dances enrich players’ houses by bringing life to every room in which they reside. As a kid, I enjoyed the fascination I had for Gyroids and I hope that they will soon be added to New Horizons, so an entirely new generation of kids will have the same feelings I had back then.