by Josh Hypes
As Ohio on Sunday, March 26, announced a vast Stay At Home Order that went into effect on Monday, March 27 at midnight, many Ohioans wonder how they will be able to pass the time until April 6 (and beyond). Luckily as long as they have a Nintendo Switch and a spare $60 lying around, there just might be a quick and easy way to pass the time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest entree into the decade-spanning Nintendo franchise, is a perfect way anyone can pass the time. Ohioans who have had to cancel their Spring Break plans, such as myself, fear not for New Horizons is here to save them with an expansive virtual island getaway package.
New Horizons begins with a gradual approach to opening up the island the player inhabits which instills a sense of achievement in which the player feels as if they have earned every small expansion each day brings. Beyond this, the game’s immersive soundtrack creates a setting that draws the player to develop further and settle into a social simulation routine. The routine is key to everything about New Horizons: no matter how a player chooses to play the game, they will eventually create a rudimentary schedule that they stick to after a couple of days of picking up the game. Sure there might be deviations, but the general intent is all the same, and when the player finally realizes their routine, it is too late for they are already too far in. They will end up worrying about which carpet will be at the store and have the slightest irritation when that 5th fossil is nowhere to be found.
The beauty of New Horizons, however, lies in the graphic design and engine. This game maximizes the full capabilities of the Switch in the way it generates shadows, ambient sounds, and glare. All of this taps into the senses of the player, immersing them in the setting of their own deserted island. As the island grows, the music changes such that the player will pick up on small changes in the sounds that otherwise would be unnoticeable. As the weather and seasons change with each passing day, the beauty is only enhanced; those drenched days on spring break are made a reality when it storms on the island, or the picturesque scenes with no cloud in sight are captured brilliantly when the player decides to fish on the beach.
The world is truly the player’s canvas in New Horizons. As the player develops their town, they will receive the development permit which will allow them to completely change the terrain of their island. This ability allows for the truly creative nature of the player to be expressed when they can raise up cliffs to make mountains, chisel away to make long plateaus, or change the design of the rivers to make more rivers or change the path the river makes as it cuts across the town. All of this allows the player unlimited customization to make their island unique to the greatest extent.
Why should Ohioans remain at home bored all day when there is so much to explore in Animal Crossing: New Horizons? We are truly living through hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, so let’s enjoy it with a (virtual) island getaway!