Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a highlight of our family’s lockdown period so far. We have explored together, discovered together, laughed together and most importantly had fun together. The game sees a player heading off to a deserted tropical island where you can amble around to collect seashells, plant trees, craft various items, catch fish and make friends of the other island residents. It’s a relaxing game to play, and at this uncertain time in our world the slow pace of island life has been everything we could have asked for and more.

To give you a little insight into what Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about, and to show you what we’ve been up to each day on the island, I’ve been keeping a diary of our adventure.

Day one. Settling on a name and birthday for our character was challenging. Negotiations were tough but we all finally decided on Drake whose birthday is 20 March. We worked together to design a character by choosing his skin colour, eyes, hair and smile. We also chose where in the world we lived as this dictates the seasonal patterns in the game and we chose our island layout. We met Tom Nook, got a map, and wandered around the island to choose a spot of our own to pitch our tent which had been gifted to us. We immediately got busy collecting wood, fruit and shells, and we had fun rearranging our lamp, radio and camping cot inside our tent. We caught a butterfly and dragonfly with our new net and there were smiles all around as we even caught our first fish and planted flowers at our camping spot. There was also a flurry of panic as we got stung by wasps!

Day two. We found a message in a bottle which gave us a recipe and enabled us to craft more handy items, such as the pole we made to vault across the river. We dug up a fossil after we crafted a spade and discovered our flowers had bloomed next to our own special crafting bench.

Day three. The cherry tree we planted is slowly starting to grow, we made sure to water our flowers and our new tree. We got a present from our mom (a birthday cake) and we handed in the specimens we had discovered to Blathers the Owl at the museum.  We bought a sleeping bag so we can sleep under the stars and we won a greedy weeder award. We caught a tyre (lots of giggles all around) and crafted it into a tyre toy to sit on by our campfire.

Day four.  The museum building is under construction. We are slightly terrified about the loan we took from Tom Nook to build a house. With all of our collecting we had outgrown the tent. The kids take turns playing as Drake, they enjoy collecting fruit and shells, and we are still catching plenty of fish. We are constantly told by the kids to keep our spot neat and tidy, if only the same applied to their bedrooms in real life! We got access to Nook Miles so we bought recipes to craft hardier tools.

Day five. Today we had a windy day, sometimes it even rains and we have seen beautiful sunsets too. We saw a bird and we even got to fly to another island to visit. We met some new friends there and harvested some new fruit so we will be able to plant coconut and apple trees on our home island. We also picked some different coloured flowers to spruce up our garden a little.

Day six. Our house is complete! So much excitement as we have more space to redecorate, can close our curtains and we can even turn the lights on and off. The children are excited because more space means we can buy more, consumerism still exists even on Palm Isle. The museum is also now open and it was great to explore the fish, fossil and insect areas to see what we have donated. As the fossils are discovered the skeletal structures are built, and we even have a T-Rex slowing coming to life. It’s very soothing to watch the fish swim in their new tanks and the insects exploring their new areas, there is a lot to learn about each of the animals we are discovering.

Day seven. The loan is weighing heavily on my mind, plus we need to pay it off before we can build onto our house so we’re working hard to collect weeds, fruit and whatever else we can find to help pay it off. We were spooked by a sprite on the beach and had to collect his missing sprites, were delighted to see and catch a crab hiding in a shell, and netted a beautiful moth at night time after the kids went to sleep (shhh, don’t tell them!).

There is so much to explore and discover in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, whether you’re motivated to collect awards and build a small island empire or happy to just wander around and catch fish and butterflies. We enjoy playing it together as a family, but the kids are also happy to potter about on the island by themselves, planting trees, weeding the garden and chatting to our virtual neighbours. We’ve even visited other players’ islands where we have been able to make new friends and collect even more items to bring back to our home.

I know we will get many, many hours of happy play out of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and it’s a screentime that I’m happy to give them because I believe it’s interactive, educational and fun! In addition I’ve also found that it helps to teach the art of negotiation and time management.

We love the Nintendo Switch and I would highly recommend adding this game to your collection. The best part is that it’s available digitally right now and you can relax knowing the Switch features a great parental control option (more details here) that allows you to monitor what games your children are playing and for how long they are playing them. To sweeten the deal even further a wonderful Easter campaign just started and our kids have been so excited to see the bunny on our island and we’ve been having lots of fun searching for eggs all morning!

Thanks to Nintendo South Africa for all the family fun of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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