Let's take a small leap into the past: into the 2002, after a first trial period on Nintendo 64, Nintendo brought it up GameCube the first chapter of the series Animal Crossing. What made it a title at the time revolutionary, was being a living game: the player was teleported inside a real one community, and had the sole objective of living there. We created our dream home, interacted with fellow citizens solving their problems and paid taxes (important). Everything was then seasoned with a virtual clock which allowed the implementation of various events that, depending on the day the console was started, varied cyclically. Let's add a nice and cuddly aesthetic to the right point and we have in our hands a winning formula that obviously was subsequently borrowed and reworked by others: Fantasy Life, MySims and the recently announced Hokko Life are the first examples that could come to mind. Also Nintendo obviously over time it has refined and evolved the initial concept by making - slips with the board games aside - Animal Crossing one of its flagship brands that, 18 years after the release of the first chapter, he sees coming up Nintendo Switch a new chapter: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the next one coming out March 20 2020.
Once the title has started, the player participates in a nice one application form which acts as the editor of your game. After the usual creation of your villager - or your Frankenstein monster, if you are one of the most creative players - it is time to select the general layout of the island e hemisphere where to place it. The choice of the first takes place through the selection of four randomly generated but in any case well differentiated templates: you can choose to live in an island mainly rich in terms of flora, or find yourself in a setting divided into various sectors by a river connected to the ocean and full of small ponds, in order to increase one's loot during fishing sessions.
In the second case, the choice of hemisphere is automatically set by the region of your Nintendo Account, but in Animal Crossing: New Horizons it is still possible to select the opposite hemisphere to mix the cards in play and find yourself with a different climate and season than to that in the real world.
Once the bureaucratic issues are over, the boarding call begins and the next arrival on the created island, where we are greeted by our favorite raccoon: Tom Nook.
Surviving lovingly in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Arriving on the island, the player has the opportunity to participate in a short tutorial in "meet and greet " along with his new two neighbors, during which he can familiarize himself with some of the new mechanics e structures that distinguish this new chapter. In the middle of the main square is located the service center, personally managed by Nook himself and which provides, quickly and easily, all the tools necessary for the development and management of the island. Inside the latter you can also find a desk that allows the player to handle with crafting do-it-yourself items. Using this method, objects that vary from simple basic tools - very fragile but still easily replaceable - can be built up to furniture, bridges, fences, chairs and even useful objects to embellish the main square of your island. In short, apart from a few exceptions, if you think of a specific object it can probably be crafted in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as long as you own it the project dedicated.
The procedure was simple and immediate: once you learned a project - obtainable through gifts from Tom Nook himself or from his neighbors over time or through the discovery of various messages in the bottle, in pure style beached - just have the necessary materials to find your own creation in your hands. Always through the service center, it is possible customize further these objects through the use of special kits (available from the shop) to be able to change them the look, whether it's theirs colore or theirs design.
As for the second novelty, in Animal Crossing: New Horizons we talk about a real ecosystem Nook Inc., manageable through the namesake Nook Phone. This device acts as a general menu and allows the player to collect miles. This new currency in-game alongside the classic stars and is easily obtainable through the completion of various objectives and activities, which can be single or periodic. Once you have paid the first tax, the service unlocks its version enhanced, in which we find available rolling targets. The latter concern small activities such as collecting a specific number of stars or catching a particular insect. Once you have collected enough miles, just go to the ATM located in the service center to be able to spend them on objects, do-it-yourself projects and above all usable in the second new structure: the airport.
Within this structure a Coupon can be used to visit new generated islands casually from the game and where you can find exotic plants, insects or fish or make friends with new potential neighbors. In addition, each island is equipped with a small table dedicated to the realization of emergency do-it-yourself projects, should there be a need to recover a tool, without the need to return to the service center prematurely. The combination of these new mechanics and types of interaction successfully succeed in introducing or reintroducing players into the classic loop that characterizes the game design of the brand: I start the day, I carry out the available activities to finally get the stars and miles necessary to improve the game experience. Longtime players can therefore enjoy the new benefits, while newbies find themselves in a higher gear and are tempted to want to do more.
Collaboration with JJ Abrams
As in the best TV series set inside a remote island, in Animal Crossing: New Horizons la collaboration e understanding with your neighbors it is important. Although the game starts with only two inhabitants besides us, the social component of the title immediately pushes us to want to interact with them, even if only a few times a day. Each citizen acts on his own, living his life on the island following our own rhythm. Even just visiting a home of others at intervals of a few days between them, you can find significant changes in the aesthetics adopted for the furniture.
In this way the player feels not only part of the community and identified himself in his avatar, but he is driven to want to interact further with them every day. Talking to neighbors, perhaps showing particular interest and insistence and helping them solve their problems, the player comes prize and strengthens the emotional bond between him and the other inhabitants.
It can also happen that some unexpected visitor you arrive on your island, offering a specific service or an optional quest which, if completed, gives the player an additional advantage in order to speed up the development of his residence.
Once the first tasks have been completed and the first days have been used to familiarize yourself with the news and especially with the new neighbors, Animal Crossing: New Horizons begins with a progressive rhythm to unlock all the symbolic structures of the series. Starting from museum, to which you can donate your insects, captured fish and fossils to see them then exposed or admire them, up to the classic shop "Nook's Cranny" where you can shop or earn a few stars through the sale of unwanted items. Over time, the service center also undergoes changes and improvements, offering the player new options regarding Customization of your paradise in the middle of the sea and therefore increase the number of visitors and / or potential new neighbors.
As for the customization and tools offered to the player, the title offers a number of changes Quality of Life: first of all as regards the editor dedicated to the interior design of one's home. Taking inspiration from the mechanics introduced in the spin-off Happy Home Design, you can position your furniture not only through the classic interaction between our villager and the object itself, but also through a special editor that makes the operation much faster and also offers further options, such as the possibility of changing the type of light inside the room, therefore going to satisfy those who prefer warm colors to cold ones, or those who appreciate their balance. Inventory management has also been revised, adding a context menu for the various tools: with the push of a button, it is possible to select on the fly the tool to which a specific macro has been assigned.
Even during a quiet walk around the island, it is not difficult to notice the amount of work and resources that Nintendo has dedicated to the graphic component of the title. With the move from Nintendo 3DS a switch you can see the obvious improvements to the quality of the textures. Furthermore, this has opened up to use - already experienced in the controversial Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival - of materials applied to the latter, capable of giving the models various characters details such as their fur or plumage, which on the previous consoles were sketched. However, this high level of detail seems to have affected the frame rate of the title, which does not seem to go beyond the 30 FPS both in portable and docked mode. It must be said that they have proven to be more than enough to fully enjoy the experience.
As anticipated at the beginning of this review, over the past 18 years Nintendo has known improve ed to evolve the style and level of fun of the brand, to the delight of all fans. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the result of this work. Every corner of the island, every line of dialogue is full love, care from the development team and desire to please its public that, starting from March 20, will be able to try one of the best chapters in the series. The only regret is that they have not been able to get their hands on the component's possibilities online.