Listen, Nintendo, we need to talk about Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
You remember Animal Crossing: New Horizons, right? That game you released in March 2020 amid the first wave of worldwide lockdowns due to covid-19. The world flocked to the virtual escape, island hopping with friends since we couldn’t see anyone in person.
You gave us hope after a year of a steady stream of updates, mainly tied to seasonal events and holiday celebrations. But now we’ve got some questions. Where are the updates, huh, Nintendo? Holidays were always included in previous games from the start, and now we’re supposed to be grateful to Daddy Nintendo for another Bunny Day? I don’t think so. I waited all year for an E3 surprise, which to be fair, is my mistake for getting my hopes up. But up they were and now those hopes are dashed.
New Horizons has been a massive success, handily outselling other franchise entries and ranking among the best-selling Switch titles overall.
But the honeymoon period is over. At launch, many players, including myself, were simultaneously excited for the new features like terraforming and outdoor item placement, while being disappointed that core elements like holidays and certain characters were nowhere to be found.
And a year on, lots is still missing, especially for anyone familiar with previous Animal Crossing games. Brewster and his café are absent, Resetti has been relegated to rescue duty, Gyroids are missing, and Kapp’n and his island-dwelling family haven’t shown up once despite New Horizons taking place among various islands. The main Nook’s Cranny shop only has one early-game upgrade despite each of the older games featuring multiple changes with increasing requirements to unlock. People, again including myself, are also still hoping for a number of quality-of-life improvements like bulk crafting or pulling supplies directly from storage.
Players were able to snag some new villagers and items with the Sanrio amiibo pack, but that required an extra purchase, and many packs quickly sold out. The latest free update repeated the May Day, International Museum Day, and Wedding Season events and items.
And if the next year means largely more of what we’ve already seen, that might not be enough. The gaming crown jewel of 2020 isn’t infallible, and Nintendo is likely about to learn that firsthand. Especially now that I can actually leave my house.