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.
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.