It feels like wherever you look on social media right now, you can’t escape the cultural phenomenon that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. With numerous countries currently on lockdown, Tom Nook’s deserted island getaway package has become more than a mere life-sim, but a laidback second life where you talk to animals and get financially rinsed by a raccoon.
It’s essentially more of the same comfort food that Nintendo’s been cooking up in the series ever since the N64 version released in Japan just past the turn of the millennium. You fish, catch bugs, dig up fossils, harvest fruit, buy furniture, pay off loans, expand your house, and take things easy.
There aren’t any penalties for not visiting your town outside of a few pesky weeds showing up. You’re free to dive in, do as you wish, and then disappear again.
Nintendo hasn’t just been sitting on its laurels since the release of New Leaf on the 3DS back in 2012, though. The series has come on leaps and bounds in some elements in New Horizons.
Players can now terraform their island, creating slopes and bridges, there are more fish and insects to catch, and even new random event characters that pop-up every now and then, too. It’s why we deemed it ‘the definitive AC experience’ in our review.
All of these are welcome additions and tweaks. It’s helped breathe new life into the beloved series, but for me, something else has kept me coming back, toiling away on my island. That is, the quest to get K.K Slider to visit.
In previous games, K.K. Slider would just show up one night a week, bang out a song at your request, and then disappear until the following week. It was heartwarming, and getting to speak to the legendary K.K. was a treat to look forward to.
In New Horizons, Tom Nook makes you work a little harder for a K.K. Slider concert. This time, you’ve got to improve your town’s rating before he’ll bust out his guitar and play you a tune.
To do so, you’ll need to plant flowers, get 10 villagers to move to your island, place furniture around your island, get retailers to set up shop on your island and a whole lot more.
Even before you reach this final grind, the beginning of New Horizons does a solid job of drip-feeding you different things to see and do, and other little quests that’ll help you progress towards that desired three-star rating for your island.
The problem is, once you hit three stars and K.K. Slider shows up, there’s nothing that follows it up. There’s no next ‘quest’ to begin, no new NPC you’ve got to lure to your island with stacks of outdoor furniture or orchards filled with an eclectic selection of fruit trees.
Sure, you can go all-out on the island rating and get five stars, but there’s no big, exciting event to encourage you to toil away. And that’s where Nintendo has an opportunity.
We’ve already spoken about ways Animal Crossing: New Horizons could have been even better, and a handful of our ideas were all based around former characters that didn’t seem to make the cut for the Switch entry.
Tortimer the old mayor turtle appears to have disappeared, Brewster is only now being teased by villagers, and Crazy Redd the rogue trader’s nowhere to be seen, either.
While no details have been announced, we do know that Nintendo plans to support New Horizons with updates bringing new content and tweaks post-launch.
What a world we’d live in if Nintendo opted to bring some of these iconic characters to our island getaways in these updates but via quests that players needed to complete to have them reside on your island, or even just come for a little event.
We’re not talking one of those crappy ceremonial events either that has you saying “Go Us!” pulling a party popper and going about our day. We’re talking Crazy Redd taking over the town for a day with a massive selection of rare furniture and paintings that can be donated to a new wing of the museum that you have to help build. Because of course you do.
Or perhaps we’ll need to help set up Brewster’s little cafe, before helping him find different coffee beans for different brews, each of which is a favorite of your villagers. Something that’s got a little more depth to it than the rather dull Bunny Day event we just lived through.
I get it, Animal Crossing has never been about completing quests and constantly feeling like you’ve got to do something immediately. People play it for a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle of every-day, normal life. But that doesn’t mean these ‘quests’ have to be at odds with the series’ philosophy.
In fact, the quest for getting K.K. Slider to come to your island is so passive that players can take it or leave it. Sure, long-term fans will almost definitely want to get K.K. Slider visiting as soon as possible, but there’s nothing wrong with spending longer reaching that three-star rating.
You’re not going to miss out on a one-off item. You’ll just start collecting K.K.’s library of tunes a bit later than other players.
Nintendo got it right with the K.K. Slider quest, and while I’m now sat twiddling my thumbs contemplating what’s next for my island getaway, I have high hopes for the future. Now, c’mon, let Brewster brew again dammit! We need our caffeine fix.
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