No, Nintendo’s addition to the Animal Crossing series doesn’t grant immunity to the user, nor does it provide any sort of scientific insight-- except when you’re exploring Blathers’ museum-- but it does offer a chance to go back to a serene environment, which everyone could use right now.
Nintendo released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on the Nintendo Switch in late March and it's already the hottest selling game on the platform and an internet sensation. But for a game where there’s no real campaign mode, no storyline and the only real objective being daily chores, why is this so popular?
The answer is simple: it gives people a newfound purpose.
With COVID-19 reaching near peak levels, it’s hard to even go outside anymore without feeling a heightened sense of anxiety. “Animal Crossing” gives you an outdoors environment that you will fall in love with. It hooks you in with an immersive, blank-canvas island, fun villagers to interact with and charm that I’ve yet to see in any game before. These things will give you the drive to want to make yourself-- and the villagers around you-- succeed.
And you succeed by putting in work.
This game has no true storyline. You can make your own “plot” by getting tasks done such as pulling weeds, catching fish and building up your home. Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want to do in real life is pull weeds, chop down trees and keep my fencing in check, but “Animal Crossing” gives me motivation to do so. It’s gotten to the point where I almost feel guilty when I don’t take care of my chores.
And that’s where this game sticks out from the rest.
To me, most “sandbox” games get old after a while. Having a multitude of resources at my hand is fun for a few hours but then I get bored. “Animal Crossing” is different because it makes you care. You want to impress the Happy Home Academy, you love to have new islanders come live on your land, you want your friends to come see a structure you're working on.
These are the things that people want to see in reality again.
Pandemic or not, “Animal Crossing” was destined to be a hit because it’s been a popular game series since 2001. But the way life is going right now, people need an outlet to come back to normalcy. “Animal Crossing” lets your friends come over, lets you see new places and brings you back to work.
The reason people are obsessed with it is that it’s bringing us back to that sweet, underrated stage of life: normalcy.