Asking around the office, I’m not the only one confused about this whole Animal Crossing saga. I remember the game being available on the Nintendo DS as an eight-year-old, but why over the last few years – and especially during COVID isolation – has the game bounced back stronger than ever?
Read on if you want to know what Animal Crossing is and why everyone on social media is talking about this cute age-old Nintendo game.
With isolation continuing on, it’s time to explore just what Animal Crossing is, how to play it, and why it is so damn popular right now.
So first off – what is Animal Crossing?
The Animal Crossing series started back in 2001 for Nintendo 64 in Japan before it was later enhanced and brought to the U.S. for Gamecube the following year.
The game is a social simulation series created by Katsuya Eguchi where you get to live in your own simulated world. You can create a character, build a home and interact with other animal villagers. You can also go fishing, plant flowers, collect fruit, and help out your fellow villagers to receive rewards.
There is even a multiplayer option in the latest instalment where you can invite your *real life* friends to your village or island to exchange resources. You can also unlock things as you go along, making the experience more fun.
Better yet? You can’t die in this game. It’s just a fun village and you can go around doing basically whatever you like.
“Everyone has different playing styles,” Animal Crossing player Gal Aharon says.
He explains that you can play with goals, for example paying off your loans or getting a 5-star ranking for your island, but neither are necessary for gameplay.
“To top it all off, the characters are adorable and have their own personalities and quirks. So for example, the owl that runs the museum is terrified of bugs.”
Watch a little explainer about the game below:
Why is it so popular?
Thanks to COVID-19, everyone has been sitting at home social distancing. What better way to keep your social life up than to place yourself in an alternate reality with an array of friends from around the world!?
The fifth and latest instalment of the game New Horizons was released in March, and is the first release since New Leaf back in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS console. This could be another reason for the game’s popularity. Animal Crossing fans have been waiting almost a decade to get back into their virtual worlds.
“I think it’s especially popular now because it’s an escape,” says Aharon.
“Unlike a lot of other games, this one doesn’t punish you heavily for not playing it 24/7 and encourages you to do things in your own time.”
According to The Guardian, Animal Crossing has proved to be the best-selling game of the COVID pandemic, estimating over 3 million sales in the first 3 weeks.
Another Animal Crossing player Sarah Curran explains that she grew up playing the game on her Nintendo DS. As someone who isn’t great at intense and fast games, she enjoys the fun nature of this one.
“It has a lot of things to do in it… it’s one of those things that I’m not sure why I love it, I just do!”
Talented Sydney-based photographer and crafting queen Georgia Moloney even took to her Instagram to share an Animal Crossing embroidery; “a tribute to our capitalist emperor tom nook”.
Should you get the game?
New to the world of Animal Crossing or gaming in general? Aharon explains that “it’s very easy to get started”, and that the game is incredibly user friendly.
“It’s a very light and easy-going game and I think that’s why it’s so popular at the moment.”
Of course, to play the game you will need to own the Nintendo Switch device. Alternatively, you can opt for the mobile game but it just isn’t the same.
Basically, Animal Crossing will take you away from this strange coronavirus-ridden world and place you into a wonderful new universe. Why? To make new animal friends and enjoy being part of a community again.
I understand why this is something people would enjoy, coronavirus or not. As someone who doesn’t avidly game or own a Nintendo Switch, I think I’ll stick to watching YouTube gameplay videos for now.
Maybe I’ll steal my best friend’s Switch later down the road. We’ll see how long coronavirus lasts.