Nintendo’s global and US presidents discuss Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Switch, and the company’s forays into theme parks, movies, and more (Harry McCracken/Fast Company)

Nintendo is flipping the script on its Animal Crossing series with a new game for the Switch console. Animal Crossing: New Horizons will let players escape to a deserted island, where they can customize their surroundings and interact with various animal characters.

The game was announced during Nintendo’s E3 2019 presentation on Tuesday. It’s set to launch in March 2020.

The Animal Crossing series has been around since 2001, but New Horizons marks a big change for the franchise. Up until now, players have been stuck in town, interacting with other residents and completing tasks assigned by non-player characters.

nintendo us animal horizons switchmccracken fastcompany
nintendo us animal horizons switchmccracken fastcompany

In New Horizons, you’re the only human on the island. You’ll be able to interact with a range of animals, including some that were previously unavailable in the series. For example, you can now swim with dolphins and sea turtles.

It was announced in June 2019 that Nintendo will push back the release date of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, one of the most eagerly anticipated games for its Nintendo Switch console, until March 20, 2020 in an effort to meet the high demand for the game. It was requested that fans be patient by the company. In all probability, even the developers had no idea that when the game became available – amidst a worldwide pandemic that stranded millions of people around the world at home and more than a little stressed out – that the timing could hardly have been better.

A cheery little animal is the standard representation of every character in Animal Crossing: New Horizons with the exception of the players, who are portrayed as cheery little humans. A custom feature of the game is that users can inhabit cozy islands that slow down the pace of life by living leisurely, low-key lives rather than fighting their way through breakneck speeds that most games have. It is a game that has no explicit goal, and it is a game that never ends. A crucial aspect of the game is the support for Nintendo’s online service, which is essential to many players because it allows them to visit friends who are also playing the game online and chat with them—a social activity that, during lockdown, made the game’s fantasy islands feel more normal than real life, in some ways. With over 15 million copies sold to date of the game, it has outsold every other Switch game in history except Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and has overflowed onto social media as players shared their positive experiences with the game.

A 27-year veteran of Nintendo, Shuntaro Furukawa, Nintendo’s new global president since 2018. Despite his long service at the 131-year-old Kyoto, Japan-based game maker, Furukawa was blown away by how deeply New Horizons resonated with him. Because it was the latest entry in a series that has been around for over two decades, it was expected that sales would be good, he said recently, when we spoke, mostly with the aid of an interpreter, as it was the latest entry in a franchise that has been around for over two decades. In spite of this, we were very surprised to see that the pace of sales for this title was so fast just before release last year. It’s something that we weren’t expecting. That’s something that we hadn’t anticipated.”

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a ray of light that has brought a sense of hope during a time that has been wrenching in history. On the other hand, it is classic Nintendo at the same time. As we live in an age where the reputation of tech giants is at an all-time low, the company’s sheer wholesomeness seems like a throwback to earlier days when everyone was more straightforward. There are few answers that are more heated when it comes to Animal Crossing and its products than the question of whether adorable raccoon/entrepreneur Tom Nook is a good guy or a ruthless capitalist.

Leave a Comment