Animal Crossing: New Horizons gets rave reviews for good reason

Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Image Courtesy Nintendo
Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Image Courtesy Nintendo /

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is ruling video games this year.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the ruling video game of 2020, and for good reason – it’s low-key, customization is super easy, and overall it’s a great stress reliever.

The Animal Crossing franchise began with Animal Crossing for the Nintendo 64 and GameCube in 2001, and other titles include Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS in 2005, Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii in 2008, Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS in 2012, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons released for the Nintendo Switch at the start of the pandemic.

There have also been three spinoff games in the series, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer in 2015 for the 3DS, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival for the Wii U in 2015, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for mobile in 2017.

Dog O’Day spoke with a couple fans of the franchise back in late March when the game released for the Switch, and then for good measure Wesley played the Pocket Camp spinoff prior to getting New Horizons in June (after hearing many good things about the game).

In each game, players control a human character who lives in a village of anthropomorphic animals, some of whom, like the tanuki Tom Nook, are recurring characters. Other recurring characters include the laid-back acoustic rocker dog KK Slider, the duplicitous art-dealing fox Redd and the science-loving owl siblings Blathers and Celeste.

Villagers in New Horizons range from chickens and hamsters to snow leopards and gorillas, and there are plenty of canines among them, from a German Shepherd named Kyle to several several wolves, and a bookish pair of Golden Retrievers named Goldie and Maddie.

Unlike previous games, however, in New Horizons you start from absolute scratch on an island and build it up into an inhabitable spot for a new town worthy of becoming the hot new vacation spot.

Susan Fenrich, a theater stage manager from Tulsa, got into the franchise with New Leaf, and jumped headlong into New Horizons when her boyfriend bought it for her in late March.

“The animals are so funny and cute,” Fenrich said. “It’s a calming game for me, that’s why I love it so much.”

Dave Stevenson, site expert for our FanSided Network sister site Puck Prose, definitely agrees about the anxiety-reducing properties of the franchise, as he’s played it since the original GameCube version, and often posts screenshots on his Twitter account.

“Every day I fall more and more in love with it,” Fenrich continues. “It’s such clear labor of love, and it shows that they listened to what fans wanted from the last game and added more.”

Tiny details she particularly loves include the waving clothes/hair when standing in front of fans, and footprints on the sand when walking on the beaches.

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For more news, opinions and analysis of the latest in video games, be sure to check out our sister site App Trigger for more details, or for secondary coverage see Culturess.