Animal Crossing: New Horizons, out today for the Switch, is a relaxing, slow-paced game in which you, over time, build up a thriving yet self-sufficient community of anthropomorphic animals. I wouldn’t know. I’ve started the game, but I haven’t actually played it yet.
In Nintendo’s placid life simulator, you set off on an island getaway. There, you engage in what Kotaku’s Paul Tamayo calls a “crochet game.” It’s a laissez-faire experience, designed to reduce your cortisol levels rather than spike them. A lot of the gameplay revolves around mundane tasks like fishing, shoveling, and wearing gingham.
There are a few randomly generated aspects of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, some of which are decided at the get-go without your input. Two important—nay, the two most important—outcomes are the colour of your island’s airport and the fruit that’s native to your island.
As far as players know, there are four different airport colours in New Horizons: blue, green, yellow, and orange. Each island also starts with just one type of native fruit, of which there are five possibilities (not counting coconuts): apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and oranges.
Earlier this week, I perused the Animal Crossing Discord and saw that, in typical Nintendo fan fashion, people were talking about restarting their games to get desired combos. Some people might want apples and a green airport. Or maybe cherries and a blue one. The truly deranged craved pears and a yellow airport.
I, a self-proclaimed Nintendo fan and person who’s more than willing to restart a game over and over and over until I get what I want, knew that, yeah, I’d be doing the same thing once I got a copy. Now that I have my hands on New Horizons, that’s proven to be the case. I’ve been methodically restarting the game to get the ne plus ultra of New Horizons combinations: peaches and a blue airport.
Why? Well, blue matches with other colours better than those other options. And peaches are, objectively speaking, the best fruit. They’re great in pies, crisps, crumbles, on pork, in smoothies, or even on their lonesome. Plus, I’ve heard they play a major role in the 2017 film Call Me By Your Name. Surely, once the inter-Animal Crossing trade routes open up, peaches will be a desired commodity.
When you first boot up New Horizons, you find yourself at a maddeningly adorable airport terminal, face to face with Timmy and Tommy, two inquisitive Nook Inc. desk agents. They ask you your name (“Orwell,” because Animal Crossing is, if nothing else, a cruel adaptation of Animal Farm). They ask you your birthday (June 9, which isn’t my real birthday but is a terribly immature joke). Then you have to customise your character (it’s become muscle memory for me now).
After that, they ask whether or not you live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. Then you choose an island layout from four procedurally generated maps. Timmy asks you a “hypothetical question” about what you’d bring to an abandoned island, if you could only bring one thing: a sleeping bag, a lamp, some food, or something to kill the time. This question is useless and, as far as I can tell, serves no purpose other than slowing down players who just want to power through this section and restart the game for better fruits and airports.
“Nook Inc. will cover all of your basic needs,” he says. (Suuure.)
Then you’re off. From there, you’re asked to watch a little intro video showing New Horizons characters doing their thing. (Pro tip: You can skip it by pressing the plus button twice.) As your propeller plane goes over the island’s groves, you’ll see what fruit is native to your island. The screen will fade to black. Then you’ll see what colour your airport is. From there, if it’s not what you want, restart your game. Hit the home button, close the app, and reopen it. Progress too far into your game and you run the risk of triggering the game’s autosave, dooming your island to pears and a yellow airport.
I’m sharing all this meticulous detail because I want you to understand just how many times I’ve sat through it. Yeah, I’ve lost count. But let’s put it this way: I’ve gotten this entire reset process down to four minutes flat. At the start, it took me about ten. That’s the type of repetition-based efficiency that successful digital media companies can only dream of teasing from their workers.
The fruits of my labour have borne plenty of outcomes, but none that I want. I’ve scored [deep breath] cherries and orange, oranges and yellow, peaches and green, apples and blue, peaches and green, peaches and green (Nintendo really wants me to have that combo), apples and yellow, peaches and orange, and, well, you get the point. I got pears and a blue airport once—a combo I could live with—but I accidentally named my character Orwekk that time. Oops.
Someone who’s good at maths can tell me the probability of getting the exact combo you want, but based on the sheer amount of times I’ve restarted this thing, I’m guessing there’s a 0.00047 chance of getting peaches and a blue airport.
I’m starting to think this is a fruitless endeavour. I’ve logged a couple hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but I’m only seven minutes in, so I can’t tell you for sure if the fruit or the airport colour have any bearing on the rest of the game. Apparently, you can get peaches from other islands later on.
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