Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Mar 222021

A year ago, I had never played an Animal Crossing game and had no intention of doing so.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons looked like it had some interesting ideas, but I didn’t see myself enjoying it when I prefer story-driven and/or more focused experiences. I worried that I’d find myself bored and my interest in it would fade away.

But several of my friends pestered me to try it, and once it came out, I found myself getting caught up in everyone’s excitement and thinking that maybe it would be nice to have a more relaxed sort of game to put a little time into here and there over an extended period of time.

So I bought my first Animal Crossing game.

Once I got into it, the first thing that really caught my attention was the world’s most adorable owl, Blathers the museum curator. For a long time, I played New Horizons as more of a collection game than anything else. All I wanted to do was catch bugs and fish and dig up fossils to give to Blathers.

(It even occurred to me that an Animal Crossing spin-off solely about collecting things for Blathers would be perfect for me.)

I eventually did start doing other things in the game, with holidays being a big draw especially because of this past year. No fireworks because of the pandemic? At least I could see fireworks in Animal Crossing. Special events were cute and entertaining and helped me appreciate the game’s real-time calendar, although I wish I didn’t have to go online every time.

Sadly, the villagers were probably the weakest part for me. At first I was excited to talk to them and get to know them, but once I realized villagers with the same personality type will give the same dialogue and I started hearing the same lines over and over again, I lost a lot of interest in that.

Soon I switched the major focus of my attention from the museum to my house, and I began making plans for customizing my Oak Island themed island, as well.

Oddly enough, the feature that held my attention the longest was the stalk market. Tracking turnip prices along with friends to find the best price, visiting other islands to sell turnips for the biggest profit, checking each Sunday to find the best price to buy them at; this appealed to me so much, I finally got a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, and I kept checking in each week for turnip prices long after I would have otherwise stopped playing.

Now that it’s been several weeks since I felt any real urge to play, I officially consider my New Horizons playthrough to be “finished.”

I never finished customizing my island. I never built a bridge beyond the one you’re required to build. I finally built a single ramp this weekend after a friend implored me to. I have a bank full of bells I’ll never spend. In a sense, my prediction came true – my interest gradually faded. But I got 150 hours out of it, and while that’s nowhere near the playtimes I’ve seen from some people, I can hardly say it wasn’t worthwhile to play a game I enjoyed for 150 hours.

My time with Animal Crossing: New Horizons has left me curious about whether there are other slow, low-key games I’ve written off as not my sort of game that I might enjoy after all, or if I might even like playing another Animal Crossing. Thoughts? Suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

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  4 Responses to “My Time With Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

    I get what you mean about Animal Crossing. It’s a low-key game with a long-term time investment, but there is plenty to do. And since it is spread across such a long time, honestly, almost a full year of animal crossing is pretty typical for me too, as someone who has played every entry.
    I do agree that personally, I enjoy games with more story, but I also love the collecting of Animal Crossing. At this point I am mostly just playing to check if Crazy Redd finally has the paintings I am missing…
    As for other games like it, Stardew Valley and the (old) Harvest Moon (new) Story of Season/Rune Factory series are often brought up. More recently, I loved Spiritfarer (which is getting expansions later this year, otherwise I would pester you more to play it now), and just started a game called Cozy Grove that is obviously inspired by Animal Crossing, but all the “villagers” are ghosts.
    I think a full year of playing, with the option to go back if the mood ever strikes you, is a worthy game.

    • Since farming gameplay has always looked boring to me, I’ve been tempted to try Rune Factory since that’s more of an RPG as well, to see how I feel about the farming side before trying something like Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley, haha. (I enjoyed PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, but that felt to me more like an RPG with some farming on the side that I largely ignored after a while.)

      Cozy Grove looks cute. Coming to the Switch, too.

  2. You spent 150 hours on it, but you probably would’ve enjoyed those 150 hours even more doing other things.

    • If I had fun the whole time, what does it matter? It’s not like I was putting off something I wanted to do in favor of playing Animal Crossing; I was playing Animal Crossing because that’s what I wanted to do at the moment. If I stop every time I’m having fun to analyze whether there’s something else I could do that would be more fun, that sounds like a good way to not have any fun at all.

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