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Last Night, I Time Traveled in Animal Crossing

For the first time since the Mr. Resetti days, I did the deed.

If you listen to Fanwidth, you’ve heard about just how much Animal Crossing: New Horizons has wormed a little bell-shaped hole in my brain. I play it every single day — and have, since the day after launch (I guess, really, since launch night, where I played on my partner’s console). It’s part of my every day routine: I wake up, get coffee and some breakfast ready, and do my email and check-in tasks while running around the gorgeous island of Omoplata (my fair isle is named after a jiu jitsu submission).

It’s a warm, comforting, decidedly chill activity, suited for the daily warm-up to more involved tasks. It’s lasted me throughout almost the entire quarantine so far. I’ve seen and done much of what the game has to offer: months ago, I completed my fossil collection. I got that 100-fish-in-a-row achievement in… April? And I paid off every available extension and loan on my little house at some point over the summer. Yet, still, I grab fossils every day, I give gifts to each of my villagers, and check out every little outfit at the store. There are still plenty of things I haven’t collected or crafted, and I do still get a tiny shock of joy when I grab a new creature I haven’t seen yet.

On that note, and speaking of things I hadn’t done, I found out last night, checking back into my town before bed, that the clock had indeed shifted over to September 1st (for some reason, in my head, I figured that it’d be the same “day” in game since I played a bunch earlier, during the afternoon of August 31st). Every month, a few bugs and fish go out of season, and a few more come in. The flow of the seasons and all that.

I consulted a guide and saw that I was missing a number of critters. How dare!

So, I did the thing I really haven’t even attempted since the olden days of Mr. Resetti in the very first Animal Crossing (which I played for years and years way back when). I “slightly tampered” with my game clock and set myself up for pacific time, then promptly tried to grind for the buggies I had missed. Most of them were beetles that hang out on coconut trees, and given how utterly borked the left drift is on my left stick, well, a lot of those beetles will wait a year before seeing my net again.

animal crossing horned elephant

It’s a testament to the, uh, Resetti effect that I felt guilty even with this tiny, minor “cheat.” I went back a few hours, I didn’t try to see Christmas or mess with the stalk market or something. And also, frankly, who cares! I didn’t — and wouldn’t — affect anyone else’s playthrough with this. But it felt… a little dirty. A little naughty perhaps. A little like something Mr. Resetti would blow a gasket over.

I don’t care that much about a fictional cartoon mole with anger issues. I just like playing the game basically as is. I don’t usually want to grind or get things faster, seeing as the point, for me, is to have this sweet and cute activity to play with as I get caffeinated and prep for the bulk of my workday. Or, sometimes, a relaxing thing to check in with before bed. It also didn’t really amount to much — the only creature I grabbed off my list while violating the temporal prime directive was the horned elephant beetle, and I found like six of them. The vampire squid and a couple of other coconut-loving insects will have to wait for next year.

Will I cheat again? Maybe. New Horizons is, after all, really all about freedom to pursue your perfect little island village, time travel included.

About the Author

Danielle Riendeau

Danielle is the Editor-in-Chief of this delightful website, as well as a part time game design and film professor, volunteer EMT, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt (really working for purple one day), and a hobbysist game developer and screenwriter. She has two kitties and a puppy, all of whom are obscenely cute.