A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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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?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting, fashion
- Skills: Creativity: imagination, making new creations
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: March 20, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Adventures, Arts and Dance, Bugs, Friendship, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
- Last updated: March 27, 2020
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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.