In general, whenever there’s an update, there’s always some amount of arguing from different sides. And in the same vein of people getting upset every time there was any kind of thing from Nintendo that did not mention the brand new AC game (which I still think New Horizons could’ve used more time honestly), people are upset for generally one of two reasons:
- Not everyone was added back yet
- The time-locking of events
On the subject of the first one, I feel it’s along the same lines of everyone getting angry anytime we never got information for a new game. We had no indication of it. Just because you want it doesn’t mean it can happen and yelling about it isn’t going to encourage it either.
We’ve seen how they’re doing things for nearly a year. You don’t have to like it, but acting like we were going to get anything more than Pave this update was silly and there’s no reason to get angry at the update for not being something it was never going to.
I hate that we’re still missing so many things. I know some people like this update system where we get some stuff every month or two, but for me, it’s just… frustrating? I’m very much a “get as much done as possible and then prepare for the rest”. And then I can… take a break. I can play just to play. I can work on other minor goals.
But I never get that break point because I can’t predict what’s coming. I can’t prepare for events in advance because I have no idea what to expect. I’m entirely at whatever schedule they decide to bring things back. Even preparing my island in advance is an issue to the point where part of me just hopes there won’t be something I like even more because I’m out of room to put things and I don’t want to change what I have.
And I think, one of the most frustrating parts, is I can’t even just… do mindless activities like fishing or catching bugs to work on the Nook Miles thing like how I worked on the Gold Badges in New Leaf because every time a tool breaks, it’s just… a chore. And that’s one of New Horizon’s biggest issues– where New Leaf encouraged doing things you loved and just getting rewarded for having fun, New Horizons just feels… exhausting. It doesn’t have that same lighthearted easy-going and like, I’m not going to say Animal Crossing has never felt chore-ish– we had moments where we essentially worked for Nook and had to pay off our house loan (even if we have no pressure on how long it takes), but in the realm of the former, it wasn’t that long and was over quickly. With the loan, we could take our time and not really feel rushed to do it.
But tools breaking? It’s constant. It is something you will keep running into in some form, whether you decide to make a new tool each time or customize one, if it can be, to reset the uses. It takes you out of the moment and either way, you’ll run out of materials at some point and have to go gather more up.
I struggle so much with repeatable tasks that I really have to get into the mood to feel like working on fishing and catching bugs once my museum is complete. But I need to just… fully sink my feet into it. The moment my concentration is broken or I’m forced to break from the specific cycle I worked out for myself to catch as much as I can, I can’t get back to it. A tool breaks or I run out of customization kits? My concentration is broken and that’s all I can deal with for the moment.
It’s hard to say what my favorite Animal Crossing game was. Gamecube stood out for me a lot honestly, and while a large part of it was absolutely nostalgia, with the exception of a few things I didn’t miss (like villagers painting your house), there were a lot of things I preferred from it such as the town layout, the hobbies villagers could have (though, I wasn’t fond of the meanness that others seemed to like), and honestly, I liked not having the rolling map. I also enjoyed the cozy feeling of the map– like you just found this place in a little valley and did your best. I also really loved the train and having a cute Gyroid just hanging out in front of your house was fun.
Two of the biggest things for me with Gamecube though were not having an item limit so I could just… literally fill up a room to the brim if I wanted and having the regional items just being around.
Wild World didn’t bring much for me beyond some nice villagers I liked, a bigger house (which was partially dwarfed by the limit of how much you can put in each room), and being able to customize your hair. Obviously there were some new furniture and clothing I liked, but focusing on just new features, those were really the only big changes I was happy with (besides anything that fixed issues I had with the original).
City Folk is still my least favorite game due to somehow feeling like a dialed back version of both the original and Wild World with only a few exceptions. NOT TO MENTION CHANGING MY FAVORITE OUTFIT TO MATCH A NEW SET :|
Not to mention both games removed regional items which was… a huge disservice, to say the least.
I actually did like the city area though. I wouldn’t mind there being more areas you can take a trip to/visit in the same vein we have Harvey’s Island/Photopia and the Nook Miles Islands in New Horizons. I think it’d be a good way to balance the fact that a lot of people already planned out their towns too and really don’t have room for more shops and things.
The credit card was also handy. Honestly, considering we have a phone in this game though, I feel like there’s no reason we can’t use that. In fact, there’s a handful of quality-of-life stuff missing from New Horizons that we had in other games (The Credit Card, the Megaphone) could be regulated to the Nook Inc. Phone we get.
New Leaf also let us withdraw and deposit money even in friend’s towns and adjust storage– things we can’t do in New Horizons unfortunately.
In general, I feel like New Leaf brought a lot of things I really liked: Exterior House customization, a full shop street (which was a nice re-do of the City, even if a bit smaller– I also liked having the museum there with the only issue being that people visiting or using Dream Suite couldn’t visit it), Dream Suite, the Public Works (though, how you got a lot of them sucked), the Town Ordinances (still wish you could’ve had multiple though), nearly half of my newest favorite villagers (Maple, Peanut, and Cookie were the original three followed by Marina in Wild World. City Folk didn’t have anyone get on there, but New Leaf brought Merengue, Diana, and Flurry), and just was a really good time. The tree planting ceremony was also really touching.
If it wasn’t for the Beautiful Town Ordinance, I would have never managed to do anything with my town. I didn’t have the patience for watering my flowers every day so I rarely managed to keep them alive.
Regardless, this is supposed to be about New Horizons and to be blunt, so many people talk about how New Horizons has brought so many quality of life improvements, but other than Villagers not moving without your consent (which was a huge problem especially in New Leaf), most of the other things I felt were done better in side games or address some things, but also take away things at the same time rather than being the best of both worlds.
To kind of expand on that, Happy Home Designer, while not a main game, was the first to give us decorating outside, different room sizes, and being able to close curtains and/or even have different window types. New Horizons, while it has the decorating outside in full force, doesn’t give us the option to choose what rooms we may want a bigger size or not, gives us smaller side rooms, and the windows are dictated solely by your wallpaper chosen. We also are missing the door customization and ceiling items that HHD introduced so in a lot of ways, the interior decorating feels kind of like a downgrade.
Sure, the longer rooms are nice, but just imagine how much variance we could have if we could pick. I’m okay with the current side room size for the bathroom (though, 8×8 would absolutely make it less cramped and let me use a few other things), but I’d love to have a longer Kitchen and maybe yard area as well (though, again, 8×8 would be great) and honestly, 8×10 would be nicer than 6×10.
We’re also missing exterior options for the house. Why are there no housing styles this time around? HHD had the ones from New Leaf in addition to many others and we have… none of them.
Similarly, so many style types just aren’t here. I loved the Fairytale stuff especially and was really hoping to see that back with maybe a few other color options and we have nothing. Not to mention the large amount of items that are just… gone. Sets that have been around since the start are no longer here. Could they be added in again later? Sure. Is it possible some of the changes were due to adding more color options? Of course. But I feel like, especially for their home console, there had to be some kind of way to truly improve on all those aspects without removing so much.
Happy Home Designer even had more pattern space in a sense– while we technically have the same amount in New Horizons, forcing 50 to be for clothing makes it a lot less flexible and it’d be nice to see that increase. Considering they did increase storage, I’ll keep my fingers crossed at least.
Moving on to expand on my latter point– the International Items. Having them in the Nook Shopping as Seasonal Items is great especially for those who didn’t know players with the game in different regions and/or preferred playing by themselves. However, I miss the events.
Even if they were small and just a little decoration and Isabelle out in the plaza, I really enjoyed them. I liked learning about them and participating in small ways no matter how minor it was. And I would’ve preferred either seeing the events in conjunction with the Nook Shopping or just… actually having the events in all regions. Part of the nice thing with Gamecube is it just… kept everything in. It didn’t matter if we had no idea what some of these items were and at least for me, it inspired me to look them up and learn about them.
It’s nice having something built in right away to tell us, sure, but I just… miss having that interactivity and fond memories of visiting friends and inviting them over for unique events too. Like I said, I think it would’ve been possible to do it so nobody was left out, but I just wish it didn’t go solely the way it did.
And just, my biggest issue with the Nook Shopping way of handling is that… All the Seasonal Items can’t be re-ordered until it’s that time of year. They don’t show up properly in your catalog which stresses me out so much as I always worry if I got enough or did remember to order it and there’s no real reason for it at all. Why not let it work like regular cataloging? Why do Seasonals exist in this like… ghost zone? It’s probably my biggest issue, especially for people who don’t time travel and want to help out friends who started playing late or couldn’t get on at the time.
Like even when Nintendo had the sending out some new DLC monthly, a lot of them were reorderable. And the ones that weren’t unfortunately were fairly rare. It’s just not a good system and in a game that encourages collecting, it’s especially frustrating.
Going past Nostalgia-view and how past games did things, I want to talk more about the second point I made at the start: Time-locking events.
There’s a lot of people who don’t like being spoiled for events and fine, that’s fair, but personally, I really enjoyed being able to plan ahead. It helped reduce a lot of the anxiety over if I’d manage to get everything done in time and let me not really worry every day up to the event.
Also while Nintendo may want these events only done at certain times, when it comes down to it, that’s not possible for everyone. I have friends who, due to their job, literally can’t get on the game during the fishing or bug tourneys as they have the same hours as their work. Time Traveling is a good alternative for those who may miss out otherwise and it’s part of why I have such an issue with games where they just… put in and take out events in patches because it sucks to miss out due to something that may be out of your control.
I don’t time travel personally, but just having that safety net is honestly a huge relief and helps me play the game in a more relaxed state than I would be otherwise.
And when it comes down to it, if someone wants to buy a $60 game and rush through it in a few days, so be it. I won’t say it doesn’t bother me sometimes because that isn’t true, especially in this game where the first week is kind of agonizing as you’re so limited to what you can and can’t do.
I think especially with New Horizons and everyone being able to share, it’s a lot harder to not compare your island to others so when you see people so far ahead whether it be due to time traveling and getting certain items, getting items you should not be getting (or shouldn’t be possible), or just due to what they managed to do with terraforming, it can be really disheartening.
Terraforming in general is just… not something I’ve found myself enjoying as much as I could. I’ve seen so many people praise the sandbox format, but if it’s not a format you enjoy or if you struggle with so much freedom (IE: When I play Sims, I do a lot better taking an existing house and customizing it versus taking an empty lot and building my own), it’s just… really distracting in a sense? It feels so looming and foreboding and it’s hard to feel happy with anything you make, especially without an option to easily test things out and reset it if you change your mind.
There’s also so many rules with it and how everything has to be tiered that even the few things I was excited for quickly became frustrating and all the more stressful. If Terraforming didn’t return, I wouldn’t really miss it, especially if it meant we wouldn’t have another North beach situation. I think the biggest irony at all is that they added so much freedom in shaping, but not fully customizing. Looking at Pocket Camp and all the different terrain options, it’s so surprising to me that we found nothing like that and in fact, even have less options in a sense as there’s no different grass types this time around.
And like, I feel that’s the focus of the game a lot and New Horizons feels like a big twist on the series, in a similar vein of Breath of the Wild compared to other Zelda games, even if on a much smaller scale. You can find those similarities, but at the same time, certain things feel so different. And as a note, I hated the weapon/tool durability there too.
Crafting is honestly just not a system I ever enjoy. I don’t find it relaxing because of the repetition and I almost always worry about running out of materials and not being able to do anything about it. The whole reason I put down flowers and transparent patterns everywhere is because I can’t stand digging up fossils and pulling weeds once I’m done with things that require them along with controlling how many flowers I have.
And that doesn’t even go into how much of a pain it is. Materials share storage with everything else, there’s no way to bulk craft, you need to hit A a few times each time to speed up, and it’s tiring. They wanted New Horizons to be slow-paced, clearly, between the week long start (at the shortest!), the time-locking, how K.K. works (as a side note, I kind of liked AC having some kind of side story where you helped out Nook and wouldn’t have minded that being longer if only because we can’t really do any favors for anyone otherwise), and the way “new” content is coming out, but the whole point of Animal Crossing is to go at the pace you want to– not the Creator. Forcing it on the pace they want you to play takes away from how a lot of people enjoyed the game and it’s caused so many of my friends to stop playing altogether because they just got bored. And even if new updates seemed fun, it just wasn’t worth the effort to bother and hit another wall.
I just wish I could fully enjoy New Horizons, but there’s always something that… as soon as I hit it again, just ruins my enjoyment. Whether it be due to tool durability or just trying to talk to my villagers. The Villagers dialogue is just… such a mess. There’s a lot based off things around them and they can interact and stuff, but some odd things I’ve seen at this point include:
- Villagers kind of hate talking to you. You talk to them more than once and it’s suddenly “Did you need something?” “I’m sure seeing you a lot!” “Is this island not big enough for the both of us?” and just… it makes it hard to want to talk to them at all.
- So much was put into observation dialogue that just regular dialogue often repeats with the same villager personality type and unless you only have 8 villagers, you’ll have to double up on at least one personality type.
- In a similar sense, while they were giving Hobby Animations, we rarely see them talk about it.
- No longer being able to ask if they need anything. You’re just kind of hoping they’ll have something for you to do.
- Villagers also generally seem to congregate where you are. In general, if I just stand somewhere long enough that normally they wouldn’t be, they all just seem to start showing up rather than having their own routines.
As much grief as I give Pocket Camp (and you’ll see plenty when I finally finish an entry I’ve been writing since November), I will say it does a great job of giving Villagers more personality between their biographies to their fortune cookie theme and the memories. Too bad so much of it is locked behind Leaf Tickets -_-
Regardless, I’m not going to say none of the other games had these types of moments that just kind of killed my enjoyment because that wouldn’t be true (the whole broken moving mechanic in New Leaf was one of the biggest reasons I stopped playing and again, I can go on and on about Pocket Camp but that’s also a side game), but there’s so many ways I really hoped New Horizon’s would be the best of everything we’ve seen so far. And it’s not. It’s really not.