A beginner’s guide to ‘Animal Crossing’

Quarantine time is the right time

My character named after my cat, Pablo. I think we can all appreciate how nice the sunset is.

On March 20 Nintendo released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the Nintendo Switch.

Since then, I’ve been playing every day to further build my island and to also distract myself from the state of the world. Without knowing it, Nintendo released the perfect game at the perfect time.

If you don’t know, “Animal Crossing” was first released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001. Since that time, they have released new versions for different consoles.

I was first introduced to “Animal Crossing” as a child, when it was released for Nintendo DS. So along with the distraction the game’s simplicity brings, the game also brings a feeling of nostalgia.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” is a game in which you are the only person on an uninhabited island in a world full of talking animals. The island is run by capitalist Tanuki, Tom Nook.

With the help of his loans and instructions, your task is to build the island into a bustling metropolis by building homes for new members that you recruit and contribute to the island’s economy by buying and selling goods that you find or make.

What makes the game unique is that it happens in real-time. For example, when Tom Nook tells you that your new home renovations will be done tomorrow, he literally means tomorrow.

If you’re new to the “Animal Crossing” world, here are some steps you can take to create a flourishing island full of happy citizens while also distracting yourself from the current stressors during this pandemic.

Complete daily tasks

Pablo talking to one of the residents on the island.

To keep the island moving and grooving, you can start by doing some daily tasks. These tasks include visiting Resident Services to complete any jobs around the island that Tom Nook may have for you. Hitting rocks with your shovel to gather items you need to build and create any DIY recipes you have learned, talking to your neighbors, fishing, chopping wood, digging for fossils and catching bugs.

Bugs, fish and fossils can all be donated to your local museum to “build the culture” of your island, as the museum’s curator and very talkative owl, Blathers, says every time you visit.

From previous games, the museum has gained a lot of traction in terms of space and graphics—it’s quite beautiful.

Other items you find can either be used to craft items or be sold to Tom Nook’s cronies, Timmy and Tommy. The game’s currency, “bells,” can be used to buy other goods from random vendors that appear on the island, or items from Nook’s Cranny or the online shopping center known as the Nook Terminal.

Bells can also be used to repay any loans you take out to renovate your home or to construct infrastructure around the island.

New to this installment in the franchise is the feature brought to us by none other than Tom Nook himself. Tom Nook created Nook Miles that can be acquired through various daily tasks or just daily living.

Nook Miles can be redeemed through the Nook Terminal for specialty items or a Nook Miles Ticket which can be used to travel to various mystery islands (you’ll never travel to the same one twice).

Mystery islands provide a lot if you use them to their greatest potential. If you happen to exhaust all items such as wood or rocks on your own island, traveling to a mystery island provides you with new trees and rocks. They can also be home to new citizens whom you can recruit to move to your island.

Hidden gems and tips

There are a few things you can do around the island that might not be explicitly said to you.

  1. Shake any trees you come across. Trees will drop bells, objects, tree branches that can be used to craft tools or furniture and fruit. Fruit can be planted to grow more fruit trees or it can be eaten. Eating fruit “strengthens” your character and you subsequently have the ability to dig up trees and break rocks.
  2. Make sure to carry your net with you while shaking trees in case you knock out any wasp nests. Catch the wasps before they sting you and take the nest to sell or use to craft medicine.
  3. Throughout the day, the island will become home to different bugs and fish. Catch as many as you can and save them because every now and then, visitors will come to the island looking to buy bugs or fish at a premium.
  4. If you’re playing the game at night, take a look at the sky and press ‘A’ when you see a shooting star to make a wish. The next day, the star fragments can be found along the beach.
  5. Balloons float around the island carrying presents. Balloons can be shot down with a slingshot.

Altogether, I’m very happy with the game. It also appears that Nintendo is paying attention to what the fans have to say about the game and issuing updates that fix any bugs that arise.

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