Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Alright, I said I would blog more regularly now that I’m at home slightly more than I was before the shelter-in-place order was given, but, well, it’s been a month since my last post. Hey! Don’t look at me like that, hypothetical reader! I want to make a joke about how I have been “busy,” but I honestly do feel busier now than before I transitioned to online teaching. Part of it is a mandatory “academy” that my university is making me take in order to teach an online summer course, part of it has been grading and wrapping up the semester, and part of it has just been trying to come up with and maintain a routine that will help me overcome any possible summer depression or anxiety that might be made worse by the pandemic. Part of that routine, of course, is video games. I have played a lot of Persona 5 Royal these last few weeks, but I’ll save thoughts on that for after I finish the first playthrough (at least). I also beat Resident Evil 3 seven times and got the platinum trophy for it, but I posted that previous blog (on Jill Valentine) after my first playthrough, so I won’t dwell on it much longer. I loved it, though not as much as its predecessor. It’s not as long or spooky-atmosphere-centered as 2, but it’s still beautiful and fun and it has Jill. That’s good enough for me.

So I thought I’d make this post about the other game I’ve spent almost 200 hours with: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I don’t have anything new or profound to say about it. It has quickly become one of those rare games that breach the wall between “gamers” and the non-gamer sector of the public. It’s sold a proverbial buttload, it was (and still is) all over social media, and celebrities were visiting people’s islands and being super nice (looking at you, Elijah Wood).

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Because of this ubiquitousness, I don’t have much to add to the broader conversation on this game and will do what I end up always doing: making it personal. Okay I sound like I’m about to star in an 80s action movie where I seek revenge on this game for killing my family, but I just mean… well, you know what I mean. Let’s, uh, move on. *nervously sweating emoji* My first experience with the Animal Crossing series was the original game on the GameCube. That era of consoles was the first where I was able to buy my own games, so when I got a GameCube I was snapping up anything that looked interesting. Animal Crossing looked weird and, honestly, kind of ugly (not surprising, given that it started its life on the Nintendo 64), but the premise was so completely novel: you lived in a randomly generated village where you could own and decorate your own home, clothes, and town layout, the in-game clock and calendar reflected the real time and date, and you could own homes in your friends’ villages, where you could send villagers letters that they would then show to your friends. This all sounded so wild that I bought it on day one but was convinced that I would probably play it for a week and then move on. But no. Oh, oh no. I spent weeks filling my basement with fish to sell, sent obscene letters to my friend’s villagers so they would, in turn, proudly show them to him when he played next, and (most importantly) collected as many NES consoles as I could so I could play NES games… on my GameCube. I ended up so completely loving the game.

I’ve played every mainline game since, and spent a fair amount of time with each, but I have to admit that I was always disappointed when a new game would come out. The original game looked rough because it was a last-gen game (essentially) ported to new hardware, so with every new iteration I waited for a huge leap in graphics and general presentation… but that never came. Each version of the game had some twist on the core concept but I always felt that it wasn’t “growing up” in terms of presentation like it should. That changed with New Horizons. The simple style is the same, but Nintendo has finally seen fit to #bless us with modern, crisp graphics. The fish, the water, the sky, pretty much everything has a nice sheen on it. Or maybe it just looks normal and I’m just used to blurry, low-res graphics. Either way, I love it. So, without further ado, I’d like to take you on a tour of my island: Isla Brie. I think every town I’ve had prior to this has been named Gotham, but I wanted to change it up so I named it after two of my biggest celebrity crushes: Alison Brie and Brie Larson. That way, if I ever end up in a situation where I’m flirting with one of them I can totally be like “hey, I named my Animal Crossing island after you” and it won’t be a lie! Hey. Stop – stop laughing. Please. Stop… laughing. 😦 ANYWAY, Brie Larson is also a huge Animal Crossing fan and has been playing New Horizons and posting about it on her social media accounts (@brielarson), which warms my ever-shriveling heart.

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Let’s begin the tour in my home. As always, it takes forever to get a healthy amount of furniture to decorate with, so this is definitely a work in progress. Here is my living room, which I’ve made into a kind of meditative garden. Impractical? Yes. But the snapping turtle I decided to keep as a pet needed a home where he could roam free and feel comfortable, so we just kind of hang out by his pond and occasionally I feed him sushi. I haven’t named him yet but apparently I’ve decided that his gender is male, so I will name him Ewan McGregor so that if I ever end up flirting with him, you know what, never mind, we’ve been down this road and it ended with you laughing at me so let’s move on.

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Before I discuss my very pink and very messy bedroom, I want to comment on my outfit. What’s that? I’m the absolute definition of cute-yet-glamorous? Oh, stop, you old flirt. *slaps arm playfully* But seriously, this game and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp are the only two games that I regularly crossdress in. I’m not against crossdressing in real or virtual life, but I typically try and make characters that look and dress like me. So why the dresses? Because they. are. so. cute. Seriously, the dresses in these games are so pretty and I like looking at them, so if you run into me on an island somewhere, I will probably be in a dress. Sup. And my favorite color is pink, which should explain why my bedroom looks like a stereotypical 8 year-old-girl’s dream room. It needs some work, too, but as with the rest of the house, it’s a work in progress.

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I also have a little bathroom to the side of my room, here. I have taken full advantage of the ability to upload real pictures to a third party site and then import them into the game as custom designs, but I didn’t place them with much thought… which is why both Ana de Armas and my cat, Bellatrix, appear to watch over you as you bathe. I mean, Bella will definitely lay next to the tub with me in real life. Ana de Armas has never done that. Yet.

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Next up is my workout room. Before the Quarantimes (I stole that from my friend Amy – hi, Amy!) I was a few months into a really solid workout routine. I was going to the gym five days a week, I had lost 17 pounds, my clothes were fitting better… then, after the Great Plague of 2020 hit, I continued to run outside a few days a week and lost a few more pounds, but I’ve fallen off the wagon in the last couple of weeks. I signed up for a gym because that has always been the best way for me to stay motivated, work out my entire body, and lose weight fast. So I made a virtual gym in the game, with added drum set because I wish I could play the drums and it seems like a pretty good workout.

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Here is my office. It’s where I do important things like play foosball by myself, do puzzles, and watch porn. I really have been doing puzzles in real life, which is why the aforementioned friend Amy (hi again, Amy!) sent me the puzzle in the game. I had a few puzzles in real life from a “party” I threw for one of my classes a few years ago, so I decided to make them a new quarantine hobby. The first one I did was a 750 piece Breath of the Wild puzzle, and it was very challenging but rewarding, so I have been hooked ever since. Every day, I wake up, make coffee or tea and breakfast, and sit down to work on a puzzle for a bit. It’s something I actually look forward to when I go to sleep.

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Okay, so the entries preceding this have been like “I have this in real life too!” but I assure you I don’t have a grave or a skeleton or a samurai sword in my basement. My basement is very old and dark and creepy, because this house is 150 years old, so… I mean, I guess I can’t say for certain there’s not someone buried down there. And if they were a samurai, then there very well might be a grave, a skeleton, and a samurai sword in my basement in real life. That’s so ridiculous and probably totally impossible, though, right? HahahawhatwasthatnoiseIthinkitwasaswordunsheathingI’mgonnadie.

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With my home out of the way (I’m skipping the kitchen because it’s not a kitchen without counters and I know those Nook kids are just holding out until I’m desperate and then they’ll be like “oh, you’re interested in these counters? Just 400,000,000 bells!” but I’m not bitter), let’s move to the museum. The museum is not customizable, of course, so there’s a good chance that my museum looks like yours, if you play the game. However, the museum in this version is so god damn beautiful and serene and soothing that I want to post pictures anyway. Is that okay? Can I do that? Sheesh. Giving me all the attitude. I intend to completely fill my museum for the first time ever in this game. I’ve only ever finished the fossil wing in previous museums, so I am determined to remedy that this go-round. Anyway, look at these pics. If I was dating, I legitimately think it would be cute and fun to have a virtual date at this museum.

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Enough of the confined spaces. Let’s start making our way around the island, shall we? Speaking of cute date locales, this little beach setup has everything you need for a virtual romantic romp: a cozy bonfire to huddle up to and talk about the fall of capitalism, a sand castle that you can pretend to build together because it’s already made, a beach ball that doesn’t move, and much more. Ladies, ladies, please form an orderly queue for this once-in-a-lifetime dating experience.

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Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, here is Godzilla(-like) toppling the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Haha, just kidding. It’s already leaning. He’s just admiring it.

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“But, Joey,” I can hear you saying, “how did a Godzilla-like creature come to invade your island? Surely you’re not relying on nuclear energy to power such a small area of land? Where would you even build a reactor?” Okay, well, you’re oddly very invested in my island’s infrastructure and power sources. No, we don’t run on nuclear power, though I think when done safely it’s our most efficient option. Instead, we have a wind farm on one of our upper plateaus!

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We also have a lighthouse, and when you look at the door and windows on it you can tell it is obviously not made for people my size. When combined with the rack of squid left out to dry, I can only conclude that a very small squid fisher lives in it. Is that a band name? That could be a band name. Joey C. and the Squid Fishers. We play mostly nautical-themed covers.

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Anyway, let’s move on to… hold on, my phone is ringing. Seven days?

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I saw a very cute set of designs for Zen garden sand on Twitter (posted by @uuTg1Ou0smRbBB, designer code MA-0398-2700-9169) so I snatched it up and made my own little garden, where I like to imagine I go to relax and write in my journal. Journaling is another part of the routine I’ve been trying to maintain during quarantine, so I’m starting to see a pattern in that I am basically just living my Animal Crossing life as a mirror of my real life. What is happening to me.

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And this, I mean, this probably requires no explanation. It’s your standard, run-of-the-mill gnome baby summoning. Everyone has one of these laying around their island somewhere, I’m sure.

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Also, let’s not talk about this dark period in my island’s past.

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That’s it for the tour, but I also want to say that I’ve had a lot of fun visiting friend’s islands! It’s a lot easier to visit other towns (islands) in this version, plus way more people are playing this entry, so there have been lots of opportunities for island hopping, which is very exciting. Remember my friend Amy? The one from earlier (hi, Amy!)? She has a very beautiful island named Sunnydale, after the hellbound town from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Our other friends, Tabitha and Tirzah, have gorgeous islands of their own, and we visited Tabitha’s island to celebrate their birthday in-game. We ran around and played hide-and-seek, we kept popping party poppers all over the place, we fished… it was a lot of fun. Here we are on that day (it’s me, Tabitha, Tirzah, then Amy.. bye, Amy!):

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Phew. I’d really meant for this to be brief. Just a few pictures and an equal number of dumb jokes. But I guess when you spend 200 hours on a game you end up having a lot to say about it. Honestly, I think it’s more that I turned this into a kind of chronicle of my quarantine routine. Oh well. If you’ve read this far, hello. Hi. What’s up? Want to go on a virtual museum date with me? *smoochie face emoji* And if you are Alison Brie or Brie Larson, I named my island after you. 😉 ❤