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  • Writer's pictureKrista Jain

New Horizon's 1st Anniversary!

Last year, on March 20th, 2020, Animal Crossing New Horizons came out on Switch. And on good timing too as it arrived in the first massive surge of Covid-19 raiding North America. Rightfully named "video game of the year," Animal Crossing New Horizons found many new fans trying to pass time in quarantine. The game gave us a sense of a normal lifestyle unaffected by the scary unknown of the virus.

I was lucky in my decision to get a Switch before they disappeared from stores and I downloaded the game the day it came out. I'm a huge fan of many Nintendo franchises and the last installment, New Leaf, while it was the best title at the time, was also the most recent one for a decade. In celebration of New Horizon's first year anniversary, I would also like to celebrate my experience with the game.

Remember how excited we were to see this trailer?

I remembered the very first thing that got me excited for its release. When the player in the trailer set some furnishings outside their campsite, I just knew I had to pick it up! Setting things outside is a must for me in life simulation games and I honestly don't know why New Leaf didn't do this. They had the public works projects where you could construct things like benches and fountains, but it's not the same. The work projects were expensive and more permanent than they should have been, not to mention there were more restrictions to where you could place them and fewer options than the furniture catalog.

I haven't played much of New Leaf since New Horizons came out, but it already makes me feel old to see photos and videos of the last installment. I used to think New Leaf was the prettiest game, but this new addition puts it to shame with its bright colors and foliage beaming with life. The world of Animal Crossing has never felt so alive. Wind can now blow past your home and ruffle grass and trees. Flowers, weeds, grass, and the beaches carry more detail than ever before.

From New Leaf's trailer nearly ten years ago...

Aesthetics aside, let's go into some more gameplay. The anticipation of wanting to explore my lovely new island was almost too much. Without any bridges or means to cross the rivers, I was stuck in a very small portion of my new island, only allowed to dream what the rest looked like. I sadly placed my camp far from the waterfall up on the cliff I wanted it by and endured the time needed to unlock the ability to cross rivers. Then, I needed to wait in order to climb the cliffs. This short time really gave me that "camping in the wilderness," feel the game wanted me to have. It prolonged my exploration enough to get my imagination going. After that, I could finally make the island my home.

Slowly finding some furniture, turning my tent into a house, and finding some useful DIY recipes to add to my collection, I finally moved my house next to the waterfall I wanted so much to live by. Without the numerous updates coming out nearly every month, there really wasn't much more to do. The beauty of the game and the wonderful promise of owning my own island excited me, but there was so much more I wanted to see. I really wanted to be able to swim from day one. It was the BEST feature in New Leaf and something I wanted in the first game. Luckily, the update came in the best timeframe it could. We've been able to swim since last summer. That crossed out one of the features I needed from the last game. Next is something we have yet to hear about; the gyroids and the cafe, though I betcha they will be in the same update together.

Again from the New Leaf trailer because I don't have a good image from my game...

I know I'm mentioning the last installment more than a little, but for this game to be the best one yet, it has to be greater New Leaf, which, arguably, still has some features that make it better than this one. In that light, let's bring up some of the festivals. Obviously, the DIY mechanic in New Horizons makes the festivals a bigger experience overall as that is the most common reward for participating in them. Still, I feel there were a lot more recipes and ingredients to find in the Thanksgiving event, and the whole category of creepy furniture was missing from the Halloween one.

Speaking of furniture sets, there are still a lot of those missing from the game as well. There are plenty of cool trinkets to collect, and I love the variety of colors they come in, but a lot of the basic sets are nowhere to be found. Where is the modern or stripe set? Why do I feel like we don't have a lot of basic furniture? In New Leaf, I collected the entire polka dot theme and customized them to be fruit-inspired. Why can't I have a set like that again in this new title?

Animal Crossing New Horizons has a long way to go yet to fully satisfy its players, but frequent updates promise new and exciting improvements to the experience, which I look forward to. As we near the Easter event in the game again, the subtle changes to the event could spice up the rest of the holidays in the calendar year. Not only could that keep us interested in replaying festivals, but it also means we have more to see even after a full year of gameplay.

In my scoring, New Horizons is a better game than New Leaf, but just barely as there are features I miss. The biggest features for me in this game was already in when it first came out; the ability to place furniture outside, having roads and terraforming to truly make my island my own, and placing lots to control where residents can move and where they can't. Seriously, you couldn't do that last one in New Leaf and you were the mayor in that one! Residents were always moving their houses on my roads!

If for nothing else, the game was just what we needed at this time. New Horizons was the comfort food to calm our anxieties in a year of pain and fear. With the celebration of its first year, I pray it will be a better one for us all, in the game and out. Before I wish you off, I want to remind you again of the special giveaway/game starting Wednesday. This website will be hosting a virtual Easter Egg hunt until April 7th! Count all the hidden Easter Eggs on the site and send me your total at for a chance to win a signed hardcover of A Rokian's Curse! Thanks for your attention. If you are also celebrating the release of Animal Crossing New Horizons, send me some of your highlights on my social media listed below! Thanks, my Lovelies!

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