MISHAWAKA – “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” had its own dedicated Nintendo Direct this week which revealed a boatload of new information.
Many Nintendo fans and gaming fans in general are unfamiliar with the “Animal Crossing” series, probably because it looks and sounds like a game for people who’re old enough to understand what money is but not old enough to understand why mommy and daddy now have so little of it. However, now is the perfect time to study up; the new title, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” released a torrent of information concerning the new game in a Nintendo Direct on Thursday, Feb. 20.
This Direct took the form of a three-part “information session” headed by the ruthless series’ loan shark, Tom Nook. Still sound like a game for kids? Nintendo seems to think so! The first session was more of an overview of what players already knew about “Animal Crossing,” how it all fits in with the new game, what things they were expanding and some basic mechanics of the game. The second portion included future development plans, like free content updates. The third and final part of the Direct was an FAQ session.
The best way to summarize the plot of the game is same schtick, different day. In a striking example of parallelism, the game takes place on an island as deserted as your bank account. Tom Nook’s company has funded a “Deserted Island Getaway Package,” despite him being the only thing you need to get away from. This means you and a select group of animals – who are willing participants, as far as you know – are flown out to an island in the middle of nowhere; you are given a tent, a cot, a lantern and a debt so large you could probably build a bridge back to civilization using all the money you owe.
It’s not just sunshine and a tax-collecting tanuki that’s in this game, though; most of the game’s mechanics remain the same, but there are plenty of new additions, namely, the ability to jump. Jumping, pole-vaulting and, only if you’re in a pinch, a helicopter are the new traversal options in this game. Beyond that, brand-new landscaping options are open to players, including paving your own roads, mining cliffs and clearing trenches for rivers.
The future development plans in part two are, essentially, making the deserted island less deserted. Players will be able to invite new residents to the island and gain access to new facilities, like a museum, a shop, a tailor and a campground, which is less of a new facility and more of what you’ve been living in for your time thus far. I feel obligated to mention that it was at this part of the Direct that the fan-favorite character, the workaholic Shih Tzu, Isabelle, was first shown on-screen, and viewers promptly lost their mind over the much-loved, adorkable yellow dog. There are also returning characters from other games, like Harvey, a perpetually-camping dog; Celeste, a museum-dwelling owl; and Label, a fashion-designing hedgehog. It’s a weird game.
Finally, part 3 is the portion where the developers answered some anticipated questions concerning the game. One question read, “Can I play the game together with my family on a single Nintendo Switch system?” The answer was yes, and eight players can occupy one island. These residents can be separate users on the Switch and they can all have their own homes on the same island without interfering with any other person’s account.
Another question asked, “Does this game support amiibo?” This, in my opinion, is a pretty silly question; it’s akin to asking, “Do you want me to give you more money, Nintendo?” Of course, the response was yes.
Still another question inquired, “Will there be a special themed system to go along with the game?” Once again, Nintendo demonstrates complete knowledge of its target audience, because they know all those poor saps will be chomping at the bit to drop $299.99 on a new, “Animal Crossing” themed Switch. How do I know the exact price, you ask? Well, if you stop eyeing my shopping list, which that is definitely not on, I’ll tell you.
All in all, this Nintendo Direct was exactly what the “Animal Crossing” fandom wanted, starved as they are for new content on this title that’s already seen a hefty delay; I say that like I’m not burning up with impatience along with them. Either way, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” releases on Mar. 20, 2020, meaning I’ll be off to my very own deserted island with my tent, a couple of animal friends and the greatest inhuman con-artist of all time in less than a month. Hope they’ve got Wi-Fi out there…