Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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MISHAWAKA – The popular animal-themed life simulator game has finally arrived on store shelves and is ready for players to jump right in. 

First and foremost, I would like to make it perfectly obvious that I issued a shameful and dehumanizing squeal upon my retrieval of the game. After terrifying everyone in the immediate vicinity, i.e. my dad, the poor guy driving me home from GameStop, I tore into the case of the game like a rabid animal and threw the cartridge into the game slot on my Switch. 

Upon booting the game, I was greeted with a lovely visual of the Nook Inc. logo, the company in the game that is generous enough to give you an “all-expense paid” trip to a deserted island that they own. The clerks, Timmy and Tommy Nook, relatives of the business owner and personification of greed, Tom Nook, introduced themselves and started preparing everything for my trip to the island. By “preparing,” I mean letting me customize my character and the general layout of my island. 

After a rigorous questionnaire about my preferences of hemisphere residence, one of the boys asked the question, “What one thing would you bring to a deserted island?” He then realized that that question was in very poor taste and clarified that it was only a hypothetical. However, had I replied “Money,” I’ve no doubt their employer would’ve stuffed me into the plane then and there and robbed me once we were far enough from civilization. 

Finally, however, I was clear of all the pleasantries and allowed to set foot on my own island with my two neighbors and gracious hosts. As the term “deserted” implies, all of us were rather light on materials and modern amenities, so our first goal was to clear out a central plaza, gather firewood and food, and have a party to celebrate our making it safely to the island. I was under the impression that getting to the island would be the least hazardous part, but perhaps Tom Nook valued Hawaiian shirts over standard plane safety procedures. Have you seen his outfit? There’s no question where my – I mean, his money is going. 

Celebrating was being commissioned a celebratory beverage and my tent and cot for the night; I retired to my meagre abode. Morning came with Tom Nook appearing at my front stoop, ready to deliver the news that any happy traveler wants to hear past the point of no return on their cruise. The “all-expenses paid” part came with one caveat: I paid all the expenses. Getting hit with a 45,000-bell bill on day one only 45 seconds after waking up is, believe it or not, the second worst morning I’ve ever had. Bells are the Animal Crossing currency; the exchange rate is 661.76 bells to one U.S. dollar.  

Now, a $68 flight to a deserted island with room and board included doesn’t sound terrible, but when you realize the only way to earn money here is selling bugs, fish, and whatever else you can scrounge, and each of those things nets you half a dollar at best, the offer loses its appeal. Especially when “no” isn’t an option. I persevered, though, and I was able to pay my bill off with Tom Nook’s Nook Miles, an alternate form of currency developed by the furry fiend, himself. Miles can be earned by completing various tasks around the island. The bill in Nook Miles comes out to about 5,000 miles, and most of the rewards come in 100 – 200 Nook Mile increments. The upshot is that Nook Miles are the optimal way to pay your bill. Once the debt is paid, Tom Nook makes fun of you for living in the tent he gave you, but 2 hours ago, and not-so-subtly pushes you towards buying a house. You agree to the terms, because it’s really the only way to progress, and Nook gives you a home of your own, with twice the price of the previous tab. 

This is the portion of the game where I currently find myself. Scrounging for any kind of fauna and shaking every limb loose from any tree I can reach only brings me so many bells. I’m not the type to take a challenge so lightly, though. It was at this point I buckled down and completely destroyed the natural ecosystem of my new home, which was doing fine a few short hours ago. Butterflies, carp, loaches, beetles, crabs, and, for some reason that only the two-faced tanuki tyrant knows, tires were plucked, ad nauseum, from their natural habitats and slung at high speed into the fledgling department store for minimum profit, until I had collected 100,000 bells. Ten hours of slumming it as a budget Bear Grylls to pay my home loan off later, I ended the first day with nary a worry, save for the psychological horror Nook would inflict on me the following morning. 

For all the guff that I give it, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game is everything I expected it to be, with plenty more in store, especially considering I’ve put less than a day into it. With all the free time I now have on my hands, due to being heavily advised to stay indoors, which I’ll take this opportunity to remind you I would have done anyways, I will certainly be sinking numerous hours into this lovely, family-friendly, simulation game with heavy capitalist themes. 

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