Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Game Poster Image
The island life is idyllic in this latest adventure sim.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

The game has some light educational elements on different topics. For example, the Critterpedia gives some information about various wildlife, while the game's economic structure can help develop skills such as math and an understanding of basic commerce.

Positive Messages

The game features positive themes of friendship, helping others, and developing a strong community. Players are also encouraged to use their creativity and ingenuity to craft items, catalogue wildlife, and design their own custom experience from the layout of their island to the décor of their home to their individual fashion sense.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the characters players meet are upbeat, friendly, and have a positive attitude. Even the notoriously money hungry Tom Nook has mellowed out for this trip to the islands. Players also are encouraged to be a positive influence on the island and to build lasting friendships with the characters.

Ease of Play

While the Animal Crossing games have never been particularly difficult to play, New Horizons adds little tweaks and refinements to make it the easiest and most intuitive entry in the franchise to date.

Violence & Scariness
Language

While the game in and of itself doesn't contain any sort of profanity or offensive language, its online features could potentially open up players to inappropriate content (chat, images, etc.) from visiting players if it slips past Nintendo's filters.

Consumerism

The game continues building on the Animal Crossing franchise, which has already seen a number of games, collectibles, and more. New Horizons also includes features that allow players to import content from Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designers, and compatible Nintendo amiibo figures and cards.

What parents need to know

Parent need to know that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation/role-playing game available on the Nintendo Switch. Players begin their journey by setting out for a deserted island, where they work to create a thriving community while also simply enjoy the day to day slice of life activities the island has to offer. The residents of the island tend to be helpful and friendly, encouraging players to have fun and offering sincere gratitude for the players' help. The game's easy to pick up and play, with no "winning" or "losing." Players instead simply live life on their island as they see fit. Players have the option to play by themselves, on the same system with up to four players, or by local multiplayer or over the internet with up to eight players. The game supports importing content from previous Animal Crossing games, New Leaf and Happy Home Designer, as well as support for Nintendo's amiibo figures. While there's no profanity or offensive language in the game, its online features could potentially expose players to inappropriate content created by other players. 

Wondering if Animal Crossing: New Horizons is OK for your kid?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. March 27, 2020

Absolutely Adorable!!!

Just another cute Animal Crossing game. Not as good as New Leaf as far as game play goes but it’s still a really good game. Beautiful graphics on the Switch. It... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKRLUKE March 20, 2020

Animal Crossing pulls off another great game in the series

After Animal Crossing : New Leaf, you'd think that a game better than it couldnt be possible. New Leaf was a game that redifined the life sim genre. It was... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymegbrin878 March 22, 2020

AMAZING!!

I love this game so much. Very kid friendly and very easy to play!

What's it about?

Nook Inc. cordially invites you to leave the doldrums and tensions of your daily life behind to live the island life of ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS for Nintendo Switch. Players will enjoy a new, stress-free life on your personal getaway, building a new home away from home for yourself and creating a community filled with fun and friendship in the process. You'll shape your island and your life on it however you see fit. You'll explore your surroundings and craft tools to discover the hidden treasures your island has to offer, then channel your inner zoologist by catching and cataloguing the island's various wildlife. You can also be an archeologist, digging up and piecing together fossils from the past, or maybe you want to unleash your creativity by new styles as a fashion designer or interior decorator. You can also take a tour on Dodo Airlines to visit other islands and discover new flora and fauna native to these new areas. Finally, you can invite your friends over check out your little slice of paradise and share your community on a global scale.

Is it any good?

It's been many years since Nintendo first invited gamers to pack their bags and make a new virtual home for themselves in the world of Animal Crossing. Now, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo has fine-tuned the franchise's formula to the point of near perfection, offering gamers an island vacation that's easy to pick up and almost impossible to put down. The game offers up all the core mechanics that have appealed to fans since taking out their first mortgage with Tom Nook. Once again, there's no winning or losing. Instead, the game is essentially a personal Zen garden, encouraging players to simply have fun and enjoy life on their island as they see fit. For some, that might mean raising a colorful garden, while others might enjoy passing the time near the water with some fishing. There's no wrong way to play here, and that's the best part about it.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons brings with it a number of upgrades and additions that fans of the series should appreciate. Right off the bat, players have more customization options for their characters, including choosing their characters' skin tone. This might seem minor, but it adds a much more personal touch that can make the game more relatable to players. It also introduces a robust crafting system to the series. By visiting a bench, players can use materials collected from the island to build all kinds of items, from handy tools to festive décor. Being able to craft tools is a welcome change, as players no longer have to hope certain tools are in stock at the shop. Another interesting addition are Nook Miles, a new kind of currency that players earn alongside the usual Bells. Unlike Bells, which are earned by selling off items, players earn Nook Miles by simply playing the game. The Nook Phone app lists off different challenges for players to accomplish, which in turn earns Nook Miles that can be used to pay off home improvements or for other shop exclusives. By doing this, the game removes a lot of the "greed" element of previous games, rewarding players for things they'd likely be doing anyway.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about using games as escapism. How can games like the Animal Crossing series give a stress-free way to decompress and relax? Can games like this, with so many outdoor activities, encourage players to go outside and enjoy the fun the real world has to offer?

  • How can games influence how kids might interact with others in the real world? Can games with positive themes of friendship and community carry those themes outside of the game and into real world interactions?

Game details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love simulations

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate