What Is “Animal Crossing” and Why Is Everyone Obsessed? 

April 1, 2020 • Shannon Flynn


If you’re looking for a source of pure and wholesome entertainment, then “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” could be the game for you. The world is a stressful place right now, and stepping into a video game that’s calming and relaxed can help distract you and bring joy. 

This game is wildly popular and only growing with its success. If you’ve never heard of it before, you might be wondering, what is “Animal Crossing?” Why is everyone so obsessed with it?

For starters, it’s been around for a while. The “Animal Crossing” franchise started 2001 for the Nintendo 64. Since then, new games have come out for other Nintendo platforms, and even a mobile version in 2017. Before “New Horizons,” “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” was the latest release in 2012. Fans have been waiting quite some time for a fully fleshed-out new one.

What keeps this popularity going? Quite literally, the game is an escape. “New Horizons” takes the basics from previous games and turns it into what is now a holiday escape for your character. This game is a life simulator. You create, craft and live your life through your villager. Your tasks, friends and design choices all become part of it as you progress.

Starting Out

The new “Animal Crossing” starts you out with some choices. You get to customize your character and name and choose which island you would like to visit. 

One cool feature is that you can select which hemisphere you’d like to live in. “Animal Crossing” uses real-life time and seasons within the game, so everything lines up with your surroundings.

Then, you visit your island for the first time. Your raccoon town leader named Tom Nook will introduce himself in the square. Tom Nook is who you can go to for help with things like loan payments, tasks and tips. The characters in your village are all various animals. As you talk to each of them, they help you along in building your utopia.

Moreover, you start with a tent but can turn it quickly into a nice house. You’ll be able to collect fruit, go fishing, find fossils, catch bugs, chop wood and so much more. You gather stones, twigs and other materials to craft tools, furniture and accessories — and that’s only the beginning. 

Getting the Hang of Things

Once you start playing “Animal Crossing,” it will be hard to stop. It’s an addicting game, but creators have cleverly paced it so that each day, week and season will bring new things. Unless, of course, you jump forward in time.

You’ll be able to start on the tasks that Tom Nook asks for help with — things like building the museum, constructing residents’ houses, opening shops and more. Then, you can start to garden, customize your home, and discover new clothes and tools as you go. 

In addition, players also have two different forms of currency. The first is most like money in that you use it to pay for items. The islands use “bells,” which you can find by shaking trees, digging in the ground or selling things. Next is Nook Miles, which are rewards you get for completing tasks and accomplishments. You can trade these for something like a ticket to visit random NPC islands. 

As you craft your paradise, you’ll also be able to interact with your friends — the real-life ones — on each other’s islands, too. You’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership, which varies in price depending on your plan. After setting that up, you’ll be able to visit your pals by going to your island’s airport on the water. If you’re close in proximity, you can use local play, too. 

Ready to Play

Why is everyone so obsessed? Why is it so addicting? The truth is, no one really knows. It just is. It could be because so many people enjoy creating a wholesome island paradise. The calming and lax nature of the game provides a peaceful escape for you, too. 

You won’t need any prior knowledge or experience with previous “Animal Crossing” games. You can jump right into this one and take on your very own island. 

The game is rated E for everyone, so it’s perfectly appropriate for young children. However, people of all ages play, too. 

Due to the current state of social distancing and quarantines, the safest and most accessible option would be to download “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” by going to the e-shop and purchasing the game. Then it will be ready to download and dive into so you can see for yourself what the hype is all about.