This year has been a tumultuous train wreck. As a virus swept the world, forcing life as we know it to take a hard left along a new track, there was but one shining light in this dark tunnel to get us through and its name is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
As the pandemic kicked off, gamers all around the globe were forced into some kind of lockdown. Whether there were limitations on travel, public gatherings, or some other restriction that kept people indoors, gamers wound up inside with not much to do. But on March 20, 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived on Nintendo Switch and let us all get off this crazy train and spread our wings and fly – with Dodo Airlines.
Life in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is simple and charming. Players are given an island to cultivate into their own personal paradise. At first, players are roughing it, with little to their name than a tent, an island full of weeds, and Tom Nook and his loan to keep them company. But even after a few days, a new store has sprung up with wares to purchase, new tools are unlocked, and new tasks are introduced. It’s not long until island life is looking a little less like Survivor and a bit more like a developed village.
Where Animal Crossing: New Horizons excels in its presentation and rewards for doing menial tasks. Players can catch fish and bugs to donate to a museum, weeds can be pulled and sold, trees can be cut down and replanted, every aspect of the game has a reward and positive reinforcement, no matter how small.
Beyond the chores players will be doing for that island pride, Animal Crossing: New Horizons also offers a multiplayer feature. People can visit their friend’s islands (or even strangers) and just hang out. In a time where face-to-face meetings ceased to exist, the ability to at least visit a simulacrum of your friend and spend time with them meant the world to so many people suffering in isolation.
Not only was the timing of its arrival perfect, Animal Crossing: New Horizons managed to capture the imagination and emotions of millions of people. Not only has it outside Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it is rapidly approaching the number of sales for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has been out for three years now. All of these factors culminate, ensuring that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is Shacknews’ Best Nintendo Switch Game of 2020.
Check out the other winners from The Shacknews Awards 2020 in our Year of the Games: 2020 article.