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I Got High and Played 36 Days of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 72 hours

I love starting games over. It’s kind of my thing. I can count the number of games I’ve actually completed on one hand because I’m constantly starting new games. There’s just something about a fresh start with new knowledge that I find invigorating. New plans, new strategies, new opportunities.

There is no completing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s an evolutionary game. There are always new villagers to meet, new DIY recipes to learn, and new decor to unlock. The seasons change in real time and offer new bugs, fish and sea creatures to find. With terraforming, you can create the island of your dreams if you don’t like what you started with. So, why would anyone start over after investing a hundred hours filling the museum and paying off expensive upgrades?

In part, my compulsion for starting over, but also because I was very frustrated with my initial game. I learned a lot in that play-through about layout and design, villagers, and other decisions I wish I’d made differently. Also, that game was cursed. I only ever received one camper, an elephant who lives in a public toilet. The best thing for me was to start over. Will it be for you? Read on to find out how I did it and if it’s worth the trouble.

A Not Entirely Fresh Start

I worked hard for my nice things in my first game, starting with crappy villagers who gave me recipes like “cardboard bed” and an unending barrage of athletic tanks. I wasn’t going to start over without some of my best items.

Tip: When you pick up decor, it’s added to your Nook Shopping catalog. You can purchase more if the decor isn’t a DIY or reward item.

In my first game, I had finally unlocked the Nook’s Cranny upgrade and was enjoying the expanded shop. I certainly couldn’t spend two weeks without shopping Able Sisters. I was fine with losing most of my inventory and my entire museum collection, but I wasn’t starting a new game without these two important stores. The solution was time travel.

Traveling Back in Time

I decided to reset my Nintendo Switch internal clock to my original start date of July 30th and play forward in time to the present day.

Tip: Enter your Switch settings and go to Time and Date. Uncheck the box that syncs your system clock to the internet. Now set the date and time to anything you want.

You only get the Nook’s Cranny expansion after playing for 30 days, so it was the only solution. Time travel has the additional benefits of allowing you to change seasons and replay special events too. I had the chance to get a few July/August collectibles for the museum. Bonus!

Use a Friend to Store Your Goods

A friend generously allowed me to use her island as a temporary storage depot for the items I wanted to take with me to my next game. I dropped off my mermaid collection, favorite expensive furniture items, my best clothes, duplicate DIY recipes, and all my bells. It took several trips. I could’ve spent all day going back and forth, but it’s very time consuming. I also felt that losing most of my inventory was a proper penalty for starting over. The idea was for a new game not to be exactly at the same “level” I was here.

Tip: When deciding how many trips to make to a friend’s island, don’t forget you start with a much smaller inventory in a new game. Be selective!

Here are some tips for choosing which items to bring with you:

  • DIY items can’t be purchased from Nook Shopping. You won’t be able to make them again until you acquire the recipe.
  • You can’t purchase special collections like the Mermaid or Astrological sets.
  • Carefully check every area of your island for items you may have forgotten about.
  • Bring all your fruits, unplanted shrubs and flower seeds.
  • Pack seasonal crafting materials such as summer shells, acorns, pinecones, etc..
  • Don’t forget your stars!
  • Cash out all your Nook miles for Nook Miles Tickets. You will use them for villager hunting.
  • Take your best wallpaper and flooring.

Drop everything off at a friend’s island and return home in your underwear.

Starting Over in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

In order to start a new game in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you must delete your current saved game data. You can find out how to do that here. Reset your clock if you’re playing forward, or leave it alone to start a new game on the current date. And, begin.

Making Better Choices

I did not love my island layout. I wanted more expansive flat land and fewer inconvenient cliffs requiring expensive ramps or stairs. Once you have the ladder, you can climb them but I’d rather use my limited tool slots for other items.

Tip: Some fish can only be caught in ponds atop cliffs, so all maps have this feature. When terraforming, don’t remove them completely.

Consider your layout plans before selecting an island. Do you want a shopping area? Neighborhoods? Many rivers means many bridges. Will you plant an orchard? Look at the provided maps and select one that suits your needs. If none of them do, head to the home screen without exiting the game, close the game and restart to get four new maps. You’ll have to answer the initial questions again, but make sure you get one you like. Just don’t be too obsessive about it. You can still terraform and there’s another important decision to make.

Drift Animal Crossing New Horizons
Drift was a starting villager who quickly departed. I took his portrait before he left.
Reroll Your Starting Villagers

As you land on your new island, you’ll get a glimpse of your starting villagers. These will always be one female big sister type (uchi) and one male jock type. However, they can be any combination of these two types, so all jock and villager characters are game.

Make sure you like your starting villagers! You will be seeing a lot of them. You can check their traits, catchphrases, clothing and homes on this list of villagers on Nookipedia. If you don’t like them, back out of the game to your Switch home screen without exiting and saving. Choose a new island and hope your villager re-roll works out in your favor! There are hundreds of villagers, so you may not get the exact character you’re hoping for. Be open-minded and pick ones that you really like the look of.

Tip: The interior of a villager’s home and their clothing style will determine many of the gifts and DIY recipes you receive from them. Don’t pick a villager who has all wood-block furniture if you don’t like that style.

Play It Forward

I like relaxed games but Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a little too slow in the first week for me. This is the benefit of time travel. Collect resources, catch some critters, play as long as you like. When you’re ready just save and exit, change your system clock and start up the game again for a brand new day.

Tip: Your villagers craft 3X per day, approximately three hours apart. If your first crafter is a big sister villager who doesn’t get up until 9:30am, your next possible DIY recipe will be at 12:30pm. You can fast forward your game in the system clock to catch all 3 daily recipes, if you want.

In my second game, rebuilding my DIY catalog quickly was important to me, so I made sure to grab both morning and evening recipes for each day. You’ll never know who is crafting, so instead of my initial “little house in the woods” layout I had before, I decided neighborhoods made it easier to quickly check on villagers.

Moving villager housing and other buildings is expensive and time-consuming. You can only move one building per day and it takes a day for it to be relocated. Since Animal Crossing: New Horizons plays out in real time, if you’re impatient (like me), having a good layout strategy will save you lots of time and bells in the future.

Shopping for villagers

Once you meet all the criteria and have had your first camper, you’re finally free to starting choosing who will fill out your remaining 10 villagers. I encourage you to be highly selective. If you started over with a hefty stack of Nook Miles Tickets, you’re in a good place. If not, start grinding out those miles. You can only choose four characters.

There are 480 villagers in ANCH to date, across 35 species and 8 personality types. The chance of you rolling the exact villager you want on your visit Nook Miles trip is virtually impossible. I personally like the snooty and smug characters. They appreciate fine things and often have hobbies like reading and singing. They give better gifts than the lazy and jock villagers, but you do you. If you love the sporty types, there are lots of cute jocks to choose from.

Tip: Animal Crossing Twitter is a gold mine for decor inspiration, turnip trading and yes, villager collecting. If you’re looking for a specific villager, try searching for their name. Someone might have them in boxes just waiting for a new home. Or, if you’re feeling open-minded, just see who’s available under the hashtag #ACNHVillagerTrade.

The Grind

Once my villagers were all locked in, all that was left to do was grind. Grind out bells for my house upgrades, crafting materials, recipes, decor, and museum donations. I’d played Animal Crossing every since I got my Switch and I wanted to get caught up quickly.

Using time travel, I played every “day” in my new game. I collected fossils, checked the shops, caught anything I saw, got my DIY bottle and villager DIYs before saving and advancing time. This was very thorough and time consuming. It was gratifying not to wait an entire week in real time for my villagers to all move in and for the shops and museum to open. That part I enjoyed. However, soon the pressure started getting to me.

The Breaking Point

Perhaps I could’ve taken a week or more to while away July again, but they always say not to live in the past. My intention was to take the weekend and get caught up to real time by Sunday, in time to buy turnips. This turned out to be a terrible idea.

I love video games. I play them daily, on mobile and console. But this was too much even for me. Nearly every waking moment was spent trying to speed through the days without missing one, while grabbing everything I could to rebuild my inventory and get to a 3-star island so my K.K. Slider concerts could resume.

Tip: K.K. Slider slips you a bootleg of the first song he plays on Saturday nights. Use this to request the missing tracks from your music catalog instead of waiting for them to show up in Nook Shopping.

Tip: Love a specific K.K. Slider song? Play it on speakers around your island and soon your villagers will be singing it wherever they go.

I cracked around 11:30pm on the third night. Gullivarr was visiting and I’d just pulled my 12th acorn barnacle in a row from the sea floor, not a communicator in sight. Suddenly everything about the game made me angry. The long, repetitive dialogues, the ceaselessly blaring music with no volume controls, the petty requests of my villagers.

If you want a cricket so badly Becky, why don’t you catch it yourself? You are a chicken after all.

Unable to find the communicator and thus unable to acquire a piece of pirate furniture for my new outlaw’s cove, I broke down in tears. Time travel isn’t easy, reliving the days over again. It left me exhausted and stressed, far from the relaxing game I loved.

Moving out: Lucha was a weird dude with attention-seeking behavior.
Back to the Future

The next morning, I found I couldn’t go back to grinding the days. I just wanted to be in the present, in fall. I was missing days of acorns, pine cones and fall recipes. So, I skipped a few days to get to where Nook’s Cranny was upgrading, then a couple of more days so it was completed before I rejoined the current timeline. Finally, it was Sunday, the turnip pig was in town and all was right with the world again.

Although I am much poorer and still paying off my upstairs, my decor options are limited, and my recipe book sparse, I’m much happier with my island and how everything is laid out. I’ve already had 3 campers and several villagers speak to me about moving, so I’ve been able to further customize my neighbors. I’m back to playing my regular slow-paced schedule and enjoying the game again.

What does any of this have to do with getting high? Cannabis made it possible to play ACNH non-stop for three days by providing me with the focus and ability to sit still for long periods of time. There’s no way I could’ve played that marathon without it!

Tip: You can join and listen in to villager conversations by walking up them and pressing A while they’re speaking to each other.

Conclusion

Would I do it again? Yes, but differently. I’d be more selective about what items I kept. Although going back to summer allowed me to catch some season-specific creatures, I would only time travel the first two weeks, just to get the move-ins done and shop open.

Ultimately, at its heart, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game about living in the moment. The flowers grow, the leaves turn, vendors come and go, your villagers live their best lives. The best moments in Animal Crossing are found completely by accident by watching and listening to the charming and unique inhabitants. It’s best to leave the past in the past and leave the future to itself. Unless you’re playing the Stalk Market, that is.


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