Animal Crossing: New Horizons
North American game cover
|Release date(s)||March 20, 2020|
|Language(s)||English (North America), English (Europe), Japanese, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Korean, French (Europe), French (North America), Spanish (Europe), Spanish (North America), Italian, Russian, German, Dutch|
Multiplayer (1–4 player co-op; 1–8 player local wireless/online)
|Media||Nintendo Switch Game Card |
Nintendo eShop digital download
|File size||10.2 GB (digital download only)|
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
USB keyboard (typing only)
In a departure from previous titles in the series, the player lives on a deserted island rather than in a town (referred to as the "Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package"), which can develop into a town-like community as players progress through the game. Crafting from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has also returned in this installment in the form of the DIY system, along with expanded customization of furniture and the player characters.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a critical and commercial success, having received positive reviews from critics and selling over 43 million copies as of September 2023, making it the best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series and the second best-selling Nintendo Switch game behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Early development of Animal Crossing: New Horizons began shortly after the Japanese release of New Leaf, prior to the development of the Nintendo Switch.  Aya Kyogoku reprised her role of director following New Leaf, with Hisashi Nogami serving as producer.
Kyogoku stated that the developers chose to be ambitious, even despite not knowing anything about the hardware that the game would be released on.  Full development on New Horizons likely began towards the end of 2016, following the release of the Welcome amiibo update and unveiling of the Nintendo Switch.
Unveiling and release
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was officially announced during a Nintendo Direct on September 13th 2018, in tandem with the announcement of Isabelle's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a new playable character. The game, at this point still untitled, was originally slated to be released within 2019. 
During Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct, on June 11th, 2019, the first official gameplay trailer for New Horizons was unveiled. The game's title was formally announced, and it was also revealed that the game would be released on March 20th, 2020, seeing a delay from its original planned 2019 release date. Nintendo shared that this was "to ensure the game is the best it can be," and President of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, stated that a delay was necessary to maintain a healthy "work-life balance" for Nintendo's employees. 
New Horizons was featured in a Nintendo Direct on September 4th, 2019, showcasing new gameplay footage and features in an extended highlight.  An Animal Crossing Direct took place on February 20th, 2020,  showcasing multiple new features of the game, such as terrain editing, additional house customization, and more.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was globally released on March 20th, 2020, being the first title in the series to launch simultaneously worldwide on the same date. On October 7th, 2022, Nintendo Brasil announced that New Horizons, along with various other first-party Nintendo games, would receive a physical release in Brazil, where games had previously only been released digitally, by the end of 2022. 
Tom Nook has a new business venture: selling the Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package, which is sold to the player. The game begins on a nearly deserted island where the player can explore, collect resources, and craft various items (including tools and furniture). The only starting buildings on the island are the player's tent, two villager tents (after the player places them), and the Resident Services tent. The Plaza in front of Resident Services will feature events and visitors. These visitors will have items and services to offer to the player.
Donating 5 unique fish and insects to Tom Nook will unlock the ability to place Blathers' tent. Once Blathers' tent is unlocked, he will give the player a Vaulting Pole to find more creatures and a shovel to excavate Fossils. Donating 15 more unique creatures and appraised fossils to Blathers will unlock the ability to place his museum, at which the player can donate and assess multiple things at a time. To unlock more tools, the player will need to pay off their tent, help Tom Nook build Nook's Cranny, build one bridge, and start three additional housing plots for animal villagers.
Once the Resident Services tent is upgraded into a building, Isabelle returns as Nook's assistant and the player is tasked with improving the island's popularity to draw the attention of K.K. Slider. Nook instructs the player to pick a location for a campsite, then to furnish additional housing plots and increase the island's population, and finally to develop the island to a three-star rating. The player earns the Island Designer app once they obtain a three-star rating, allowing K.K. Slider to perform "Welcome Horizons" on their island. After acquiring the proper terraforming tools with Nook Miles, the app allows players to pave roads (instead of having to place patterns on the ground), as well as modify or add rivers and cliffs.
In addition to earning Bells, the player can also earn Nook Miles, which is a new form of currency that can be exchanged for furniture, Nook-branded apparel, plane tickets to mystery islands, upgrades, and recipes. As in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, the game features the ability to place furniture outside. A new vaulting pole tool can be created, giving the ability to vault over rivers, as well as a ladder, allowing the player to climb up cliffs.
The first playable character of the island is named the Resident Representative, which occupies a similar role to the mayor in Animal Crossing: New Leaf; this player controls the pace of the storyline, and is the only player that can initiate placement of villager housing plots and infrastructure such as stores, bridges, and inclines (though all players will have access to the Island Designer app once K.K. performs). Additionally, there is a maximum of 10 animal villagers on the island.
Resources can be collected through various methods, such as chopping at trees with an axe for several types of wood (including wood, softwood, and hardwood), or hitting rocks with a shovel for clay, stone, and ores. Several different types of weeds appear, which can also be used as materials once plucked.
With these mechanics, the player is able to build and develop the island over time. Players are also able to dig up clams in the sand, which can then be used as a crafting materials to make fishing bait. Additionally, trees and flowers can be picked up with a shovel to be stored in the pocket; flowers can also be used as crafting material, and picking them will also leave the stems in the ground.
The player is able to fully customize their character at the beginning of, and during, the game without restrictions, a first for the Animal Crossing main-series. This feature was also present in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp. Customization includes skin tones, gender-neutral hairstyles, and nose shapes.  The player characters' overall design is slightly more detailed than in previous titles, featuring a more subdued color scheme and clear hair physics and shaders. The players also appear more expressive, showing a thoughtful expression when selecting items in their pocket, and moving their eyes around to look at nearby villagers and bugs.
Up to eight players can live on a single island, but only one island can be made per Nintendo Switch.  For the first time in the series, four players can play at the same time on a single system, and up to eight can play together through online multiplayer or local wireless. Online play requires a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
In local multiplayer, the screen boundaries will follow player 1; however, they may transfer their "leadership" to another player at any time. The lead player is the only player able to see notifications after catching bugs or fish. In online play, all players have equal abilities, as in previous games. This also marks the first game where a player's friend cannot modify the island with their shovel or axe unless they are marked as a best friend.
Nintendo eShop description
Escape to Your Personal Island Paradise
- Escape to a deserted island and create your own paradise as you explore, create, and customize in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Your island getaway has a wealth of natural resources that can be used to craft everything from tools to creature comforts. You can hunt down insects at the crack of dawn, decorate your paradise throughout the day, or enjoy sunset on the beach while fishing in the ocean. The time of day and season match real life, so each day on your island is a chance to check in and find new surprises all year round.
- Show off your island utopia to family and friends—or pack your bags and visit theirs. Whether playing online or with others beside you, island living is even better when you can share it. Even without hopping on a flight, you'll meet a cast of charming animal residents bursting with personality. Friendly faces like Tom Nook and Isabelle will lend their services and happily help you grow your budding community. Escape to your island getaway—however, whenever, and wherever you want.
Game director Aya Kyogoku explained that the development team intended for the game to be welcoming for veteran players and accessible for new players, by keeping much of the core gameplay from previous titles, while still adding in many new elements.  Kyogoku noted that some players of previous entries would have difficulty finding goals or objectives. As a response to this feedback, a sense of purpose was purposely developed by having players develop the village from scratch.
The developers felt that as players constructed their village from the ground up, they would grow a more personal relationship with their town.  The theme of developing a town on a deserted island was chosen because the developers believed that breaking away from the tradition of players moving into a village would be a fresh and interesting concept for old players. 
As a result of choosing a deserted island theme, crafting was added into the game. This was done so that players would have a higher level of interactivity with the deserted island. This would give players a different perspective of the environment that used to be just a visual aspect. Crafting was also developed with the intention of keeping players from running out of things to do during the hours that their shops are closed. 
Another of these new features, terraforming, was added in response to unexpected behavior from players in previous games such as resetting towns in order to receive a desirable town layout. With the introduction of crafting and terraforming, players are able to be more in control of their island. 
This flexibility in design extends further onto player design. Unlike previous games which involved players having to answer a series of questions to determine their appearance, players are now able to freely change their appearance whenever they would like to through the use of mirrors or vanities. In addition to this, several new hair and facial features were added that were not present in previous entries.
A gender option, referred to as "style" in English versions, is still present, but does not impact the player's appearance or the game in any way other than certain dialogue differences. Kyogoku stated in an interview that this level of player customization is not just about gender, but rather more about individuality, which the development team believed was a growing belief within society. Players are not forced into thinking too much about gender, but the option is still there should they decide to.
The addition of the NookPhone was inspired by the belief that phones are essential tools in everyday life. Kyogoku has stated that the NookPhone serves as a source of familiarity between the real world and the game. 
In another shift from serious tradition, the effects of time traveling were made less impactful. This is in part due to the fact that seasonal events and holidays were not coded into the game from launch and were instead added through future updates. Kyogoku noted that this method of adding events was intended to create unity amongst players. Time traveling was discouraged by Kyogoku and Nogami, though they did not consider it to be a form of cheating. 
Animal Crossing: New Horizons supports more languages than previous entries in the series, being the first main series game to support the Chinese language since Dòngwù Sēnlín in 2006,  New Horizons is also the first main series title since Animal Crossing: City Folk to have two separate localizations for Spanish and French; one for Europe and another for the Americas, although it has been erroneously reported to be the first title to do so in the case of Spanish.  It is the first title to include all localizations collectively regardless of regional release, and the first main series title to include Dutch and Russian languages.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons base game introduces six new special characters, including:
There are a total of 391 villagers in New Horizons base game, which is 8 less than Animal Crossing: New Leaf (including Welcome amiibo). 8 new villagers have been added, and 18 has been removed. 1.9.0 Free Update re-introduces 6 Sanrio villagers. 2.0 Free Update added 8 new villagers, and 8 have returned after being absent in Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf. With updates, it brings the total of 413 villagers.
Eight villagers from Doubutsu no Mori, Doubutsu no Mori+, Animal Crossing, and the Japan-exclusive Doubutsu no Mori e+ and six from Welcome amiibo return in game updates. Four villagers (marked below) initially only appeared in Doubutsu no Mori e+ and receive localized names for the first time. Two of the returning villagers have their personalities changed.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons supports connectivity with the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app, where players can type out messages, use voice chat, view island statistics, and import custom designs from QR codes created by Animal Crossing: New Leaf or Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Updates to NookLink were implemented, granting the user additional activities, such as viewing their catalog, reading a newspaper service that tracks their day-to-day activity, using reactions, and redeeming Nook Points for items.
Players that have Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp linked on the same My Nintendo account can redeem rewards via the My Nintendo screen in the mobile app. The rewards are 50 Leaf Tickets to use in Pocket Camp and a 16-digit download code for Nintendo eShop used to access special furniture and clothing items orders in New Horizons.
List of new amiibo cards
Animal Crossing: New Horizons received positive reviews from critics, with many praising the new entry for retaining the soul of other titles in the series while also providing enhanced visuals and new mechanics.
Some outlets have attributed some of the success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that the game has become a "phenomenon" due to its open-ended and social nature, and citing it as a form of escapism. Ani Bundel of NBC News stated, "In this time of social distancing, it turns out that a trip to a calming island where all you have to do is build houses and plant trees is the perfect escape," and that the game "couldn't have been timed more perfectly," releasing as shelter-in-place orders began to take place in the United States.
In the first six weeks after the game's release, New Horizons sold over 13.41 million copies worldwide. As of September 30, 2023, the game has sold 43.38 million units worldwide, becoming the second-best selling Nintendo Switch title, only behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe which has sold 57.01 million units.
In the United States, the game became the best-selling in March 2020 and second best-selling in 2020 overall. It was achieved the third highest month physical dollar and unit sales of any Nintendo game and exceeded the lifetime sales of all games in the series.
In Europe, New Horizons has sold 7 million copies as of March 16, 2021 and was confirmed to be the fastest selling Nintendo title ever released in the region.
Usage in political media
The popularity of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, paired with quarantining as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused the game to become prominently used as an online political platform. Months after the game was launched, protestors used New Horizons to protest for Hong Kong democracy against China, even posting derogatory messages pointed at Chinese president Xi Jinping and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. The resulting virtual protests caused New Horizons to be taken off online stores in China.
Later that year, Joe Biden's election campaign for the then-upcoming 2020 presidential election in the United States announced in September that it would provide custom designs for New Horizons players. Later in October, the same campaign also launched its own dream island named "Biden HQ." The dream island, accessible through the dream code DA-7286-5710-7478, features a recreation of the White House and the Rose Garden, and a voting booth that promotes players to the Democratic National Committee's voting registration site. The island's player character resembles Joe Biden and when spoken to says, "No malarkey," a slogan used in Biden's presidential campaign. Following its usage by the Biden election campaign, Nintendo released an official New Horizons usage guidelines for companies and organizations, stating that while they can share custom designs or dream islands, they are prohibited from engaging in certain activities, including politics.
In September 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons received the Award for Excellence and Grand Award at the Tokyo Game Show, and in November 2020 it won the Nintendo Game of the Year award at the Golden Joystick Awards. It was also nominated for the Best Multiplayer, Best Family, and Game of the Year awards at The Game Awards in 2020.
|2020||Tokyo Game Show||Award for Excellence||Won|
|Golden Joystick Awards||Nintendo Game of the Year||Won|
|The Game Awards||Best Multiplayer||Nominated|
|Game of the Year||Nominated|
|2021||New York Game Awards||Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year||Nominated|
|Central Park Children's Zoo Award for Best Kids Game||Won|
|Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Video Game||Nominated|
|BAFTA Games Awards||Best Game||Nominated|
|Game Beyond Entertainment||Won|
|EE Game of the Year||Nominated|
|D.I.C.E. Awards||Family Game of the Year||Won|
|2022||D.I.C.E. Awards||Family Game of the Year[nb 3]||Nominated|
|BAFTA Games Awards||Evolving Game||Nominated|
|2021||Asahi TV||Top 100 Video Games of All Time||4|||
|IGN||Top 100 Video Games of All Time||91|||
From its release in March 2020 to November 2021, Animal Crossing: New Horizons received twelve free content updates and one paid DLC expansion, Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise. The free updates included content such as new events, gameplay elements, characters, and items.
Major content updates
March 20th, 2020
March 20th, 2020
April 23rd, 2020
July 3rd, 2020
July 30th, 2020
September 30th, 2020
November 19th, 2020
January 28th, 2021
February 25th, 2021
March 18th, 2021
April 28th, 2021
July 29th, 2021
November 4th, 2021
November 5th, 2021
In Japan, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has received two soundtrack CDs: Atsumare Dōbutsu no Mori: Original Soundtrack in 2021, which contains all of the game's tracks prior to version 2.0, and Atsumare Dōbutsu no Mori: Original Soundtrack 2 in 2022, which contains tracks added in version 2.0. New Horizons is the first Animal Crossing game to receive a complete soundtrack release. Additionally, Atsumare Dōbutsu no Mori: Totakeke Music Instrumental Selection, a vinyl record containing 18 K.K. Slider songs from the game will be released on November 23, 2022.
New Horizons has also received six tie-in manga as of October 2022:
- NookTails, released mainly on Nintendo's official Twitter accounts.
- Assemble! Animal Crossing: News from the Carefree Island, released in Japan and Southeast Asia.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Deserted Island Diary, released in Japan, Southeast Asia, North America, and France.
- Atsumare Doubutsu no Mori: Minna to Tsukuru Shima Seikatsu, released in Japan.
- Animal Crossing: The Bestest Island, released in Japan and Southeast Asia.
- Putchigumi Besuto! Atsumare Doubutsu no Mori: Fuwafuwa Shima, released in Japan.
Deserted Island Getaway Package Primer
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons marks the longest time between the release of two main Animal Crossing series games, at 7 years, 4 months, and 12 days from Animal Crossing: New Leaf's release in Japan on November 8, 2012.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the second mainline game in the Animal Crossing series not to feature K.K. Slider on its boxart, the first being the international release of Animal Crossing.
- Likely to tie into Animal Crossing: New Horizons's de-emphasis of gender, villagers with "gendered" catchphrases had their catchphrases changed in this game to use more gender-neutral language. Cole, Cube and Stu, who all formerly included "dude" in their catchphrases, now say "cooooool," "brainfreeze," and "mrooooo," respectively. Shep, who formerly said "baaa man" as his catchphrase, now says "baa baa baa." Fuchsia, whose catchphrase was formerly "girlfriend," now says "precious." These changes were later incorporated into Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp as of version 3.4.0.
Names in other languages
- Japanese: あつまれ どうぶつの森 Hepburn: Atsumare Doubutsu no Mori, Animal Forest: Gather
- at an average of 111 reviews
- As Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise.
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|Animal Crossing: New Horizons|
|Animal Crossing series|