Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a 2020 social simulation game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch; it is the fifth main entry in the Animal Crossing series. In New Horizons, the player controls a character who moves to a deserted island after purchasing a getaway package from Tom Nook, playing the game in a nonlinear fashion and developing the island as they choose. The game director, Aya Kyogoku, had the philosophy of retaining old content from previous games to keep fans happy while also making the game simple enough to appeal to newcomers. With art and graphics, they used the concept of "trigger of play" and the "imagination gap", where the former kept the gameplay simplistic and easy to pick up while the latter kept the art style simple for the player to imagine the rest. New Horizons received acclaim from critics, with many praising its gameplay and customization options and calling it the best game in the series. Being nominated for over a dozen awards, the game was often a contender for Game of the Year. The game also spawned fan creations, such as a trading website, a talk show, and other comics and merchandise. As in previous Animal Crossing games, New Horizons is a life simulation game played in real time. Weather also adjusts to the seasons of the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, depending on the player's real-world location, a first for the Animal Crossing series. After Tom Nook gives the player essentials, such as a tent, the game proceeds in a non-linear fashion, allowing for the player to play the game as they choose. The player is given open access to natural resources such as fruit and wood, which can be collected and crafted into a variety of items and furniture known as D.I.Y. crafting. Other shopowners will visit and settle on the island; museum-owner Blathers, who will display fish, bugs, sea creatures, fossils, and art captured by the player; sisters Mable and Sable, who sell clothing and other player-created accessories; and Timmy and Tommy, who run a store that specializes in selling furniture and other quality-of-life items, eventually expanding to sell more items per day. Eventually, the main area will expand to a Town Hall, run by Tom Nook with the help of Isabelle; other buildings and villagers will populate the community, and old tents and shops will grow into a more permanent structure that can still be moved if the player chooses.
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