Escape to Island Life; The History of Animal Crossing New Horizons


Nicholas Melendez, Staff Writer

Animal Crossing New Horizons is the latest game from the series, and another big hit from Nintendo. The life simulator has always had a home within Nintendo’s home and hand-held consoles, with moderate success. However, Animal Crossing New Horizons seems to have broken that trend as it has surpassed all sales numbers combined from its previous titles, and rightfully so. Animal Crossing New Horizons was released on the Nintendo Switch on March 20th, 2020.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Promotion

So What is Animal Crossing? and Why is it so popular?

Animal Crossing is a life simulator housed by Nintendo. It was thought up and developed by Katsuya Eguchi, a game designer and manager at Nintendo. Eguchi wanted a game which felt like home, as he had to move away from his friends and family to work at Nintendo. This allowed him to conjure-up the idea of Animal Crossing or Animal Forest in Japan.


Animal Forest was released on the Nintendo 64 on April 14, 2001. Then it was later translated and updated for those in the west as Animal Crossing, which was released on the Nintendo GameCube on September 16, 2002. It was a success with many gamers as Animal Crossing released four mainline series titles including New Horizons, and two additional spin-offs.


Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing New Leaf, and Animal Crossing Wild World

When booting up Animal Crossing, it is important to note this difference between Animal Crossing and many other life simulators and game genres in general. The difference is that there is not health bar, meaning you cannot die which was not really seen in many games. Instead, one enjoys the simple life of decorating one’s home, picking fruit, fishing, catching bugs, shopping, making connections with villagers, and most importantly paying one’s debt to Tom Nook.

Player waving at Villager

There is no goal that one has to reach, as there really is no ending. As the point of Animal Crossing isn’t to rescue a princess or kill a bad guy, it is to appreciate the world around them and the connections they have made. This is what makes the game so popular, as it is not difficult to jump into a town and talk to villagers. The simplicity of Animal Crossing is what allows us to keep coming back, as each day in real life passes a day passes in game as well.


Animal Crossing New Horizons is no different from the previous titles, as the slice of life is still intact yet they improve it by implementing new mechanics that makes it the ultimate way in which one plays Animal Crossing. The main ability, that is now a fan favorite, is crafting. It is quite odd how this mechanic was never implemented into Animal Crossing until New Horizons, as crafting allows for players to gather items and materials to make furniture or tools. It certainly broadens the game and hours in which players log in, as crafting gives them something to do to improve their island.


“Terra-forming and Paths” is also a new feature we never would have imagined could be implemented in Animal Crossing. Beforehand, one went into their town and was forced to the land they received; however, in New Horizons this is no longer the case. Players are encouraged to terra-form their island, build or destroy cliffs, and create rivers. This allowed us to have more freedom in personalizing our islands and creating our dream island in the game.

Furniture Placed Outside

Placing furniture outside is another mechanic which was never seen in an Animal Crossing game until New Horizons. This is odd because it seems as though this should have been implemented in the first game of Animal Crossing. This feature allows players to place objects outside and customize their island even more. This is personally one of my favorite features, as it allows me to decorate villager’s homes and customize my own front yard and beaches.


As a long-time fan of Animal Crossing, it is safe to say that this gaming franchise hit it out of the park with New Horizons. Never have I been so impressed with the game-changing improvements of Animal Crossing New Horizons. This is a game which everyone must experience for themselves, especially during times of social distancing and social isolation. This game allows for anyone to escape to their dream island and create bonds that will last for a life time.