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The first anniversary of the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons recently passed, so we thought it would be fitting to look back at it and some of its predecessors.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo 2DS/3DS)
If you’re looking for a more metropolitan life than an island one (or don’t have a Nintendo Switch), then Animal Crossing: New Leaf, one of New Horizons’ predecessors, might be more your cup of tea.
Instead of an entire island, in this game you arrive in a declining town looking for a mayor after the previous one’s recent retirement. You become the mayor of [insert town name], planting a tree to signify the beginning of your tyrant rule as all-powerful mayor. Or not, it’s really up to you how much you want to control stuff. It has the same core concepts as New Horizons (fishing, bug catching, customization, etc.) but with some major differences such as the introduction of Main Street, a separate area that contains all of the shops and businesses you’ll ever need, all in one place.
There are noticeably fewer options for customization in this game, but it also has some features such as a campsite where you can meet a new character in a camper each day and purchase the wares they are peddling. All in all, if you choose this game, you are guaranteed to be hooked from the start, with catchy music, villagers with personality and gusto, and a generally cozy atmosphere.
To submit your mayoral application, simply catch the next train to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch/Switch Lite)
Tired of your busy day-to-day life? Wish you could take a vacation but everywhere is closed? Well, maybe it’s time to look into an alternative to an island getaway that WON’T leave sand in your shoes with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest installment in the Animal Crossing game series.
You start with a deserted island from the Desert Island Getaway Package that you can later literally reshape however you want. You are soon joined by animals called villagers that live and do everyday activities on the island alongside you and up to 7 other players on one console. By catching bugs and fish to donate to the museum, creating clothing, and crafting your own items, you can make your experience unique to you and your play style.
This game syncs with real time, making each day different from the last with seasonal events and creatures that are exclusive to certain days or periods of the year. This game is unique because you can finally place furniture outside unlike in previous games, and using recipes you can craft your own furniture and other items, just like you’re living off the land! Don’t feel like you have to do this alone, though; you can meet your friends online and show off that really cool downtown or jungle you just made (or your sea bass banishing circle, whatever floats your boat).
Start your unique journey to island life today by boarding a seaplane to Animal Crossing: New Horizons!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch/Switch Lite):
If you’re still looking for more Animal Crossing content but only have a Switch, don’t fret, because you know what would make this peaceful franchise even better? Yep, you guessed it; death matches!
Smash Ultimate is the Switch edition of the brawling game that has become a Nintendo staple, and is the biggest edition of the game yet. It features every single fighter from all past games, with a total of 74 fighters (not including the handful of DLCs). Like the other games in the series, you battle your friends with various characters from your favorite video games (mostly Nintendo), such as Kirby, Princess Peach, Pacman, and Donkey Kong. You can create tournaments, one-on-ones, completely randomized battles with a million items; it’s all up to you how you want to crush your enemies’ spirits.
This game features two different characters from Animal Crossing games: Isabelle and Villager. Isabelle is a dog who appears in the newer Animal Crossing games as a secretary or other helpful role, and is brand-new to Ultimate. Villager is the games’ player character, and is not new. Both of them have similar move sets, but with Villager you can knock your opponents off the stage with a rocket, and Isabelle can snag them with a fishing pole and throw them off. Either way, it’s a fun way to forcefully get someone off of something, that’s for sure.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: the game that encourages you to burn bridges. And throw your friends off of them.
No one likes doing laundry, much less Marjorie Glatt, who runs her family’s laundromat at thirteen years old. But what about being laundry?
Wendell is a white sheet with two dark holes cut out for eyes–the quintessential Halloween ghost. He’s even told to try to pass himself off as one when he escapes, via train, from the Land of Ghosts back to the Land of Humans. To a ghost that’s just a sheet, Marjorie Glatt’s laundromat is a perfect place to hide by day and play by night.
Marjorie’s life of middle school, unforgiving customers, and a failing family business was already a lot to handle, and with Wendell’s shenanigans, she might not be able to keep it up much longer.
Sheets is a picturesque graphic novel, with page-long illustrations of Marjorie’s town that deftly set the tone. Really, Sheets could get on with very little dialogue at all; each panel is very purposefully illustrated not only to tell you a story, but to show how each character is feeling about that story as it unfolds.
For a powerfully emotional story about grief and asking for help, framed in a fascinatingly detailed art style, give Sheets a spin.
Although Persepolis is illustrated exclusively in black and white, the graphic novel’s subject matter is anything but. This autobiographical story explores what it was like for six-year-old Marji to grow up during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the chaos of the Iran-Iraq war.
Persepolis is written as if Marji were sitting right next to you, telling you her story from her ever-widening perspective as she grows up. She tells you about the ideals of revolution and the effects of war as she decides what she wants to be when she grows up, has conflicts at school, and strives to look hip. Persepolis frames the strife of Marji’s country with her own chaotic childhood, lending a personal lens with which to look at history.
Persepolis is a great graphic novel for those looking to be challenged by an impactful tale about childhood and conflict.
The Hobbit is the novel equivalent of putting on a pair of thick, warm socks and sitting next to a cheerily crackling fireplace on a damp and dreary day, something the protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, would surely appreciate.
Bilbo is not a hero, or an adventurer, or even someone who would risk being late for breakfast. Yet, due to the influence of the old wizard Gandalf, he finds himself on a journey far, far away from his cozy little hobbit-hole. Joining a company of thirteen dwarves, Bilbo travels over perilous mountains, through a dangerously enchanted forest, and down a raging river to meet a cunning and powerful foe.
This wonderfully down-to-earth tale is carried by its charmingly whimsical narration. The Hobbit is told like a fairytale you’d hear as a little kid, but with a lot of depth and care put into its vibrant world and characters. In fact, if you’re not up to reading the entire print novel, an audiobook is a perfect way to experience this story.
If you’re looking for a fantastical story about friendship, perseverance, and greed that becomes as ingenious and brave as its protagonist, let The Hobbit take you on a journey.
Nimona is what you’d get if you took a regular Saturday morning cartoon, complete with mad scientist villain and golden-clad, paladin hero, and threw a shapeshifting, reckless, brash ball of chaos right in the middle just to see what would happen.
Nimona, the titular character, is a teen girl with an enigmatic past and the ability to transform into any living being in seconds. Or at least, that’s her pitch when she tries to become the sidekick of Ballister Blackheart, the kingdom’s resident supervillain. Through a series of schemes and havoc, Ballister and Nimona are set on sticking it to the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, as well as Ballister’s personal rival, Sir Goldenloin.
As the story progresses, Nimona and Ballister learn to trust and rely on each other; however, Nimona’s wild side and violent tendencies get harder for Ballister to ignore. As the plot gets more complicated and darker in tone, the art style mirrors it step for step until Nimona’s gripping conclusion.
If you’re looking for a graphic novel to warm your heart, make you laugh, and blow you away, look no further than Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona.
Coarsegold Online is a dazzling MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) full of dynamic heroes and powerful creatures. It’s easy to get just as sucked into that world as In Real Life’s protagonist, Anda–the illustration is perfectly tailored to make those familiar with video games feel right at home. The game world’s bright, saturated colors pop off the page; in contrast, the real world uses dull and brown tones. Despite that more drab depiction, In Real Life doesn’t try to shy away from reality.
As Anda starts playing Coarsegold more and more, she’s hired to get rid of gold farmers–players who collect in-game items to sell to other players for real money, completely against the rules. Once Anda talks to one of these gold farmers, she learns that he’s just a poor kid her age in China trying to make a living, and Coarsegold’s morality of heroes and villains isn’t quite as clear-cut as she thought.
If you’re interested in nuanced takes about gaming and its relationship with real-world politics, all wrapped up in a charmingly illustrated package, plug into In Real Life.
Ghosts is a graphic novel with a lot of heart, which might be surprising given its incorporeal subject matter.
The story starts with protagonist Cat and her family moving north to Bahía de la Luna to help her sister Maya’s health. Maya has cystic fibrosis, a life-long lung disease that makes it hard for her to do ordinary things–but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to explore Bahía de la Luna with Cat in town!
Bahía de la Luna is a foggy little town on the coast of California, and the exquisitely drawn ocean, sheer cliffs, and gnarled trees give the town a slightly spooky vibe. That spooky vibe does not go unnoticed by the townspeople of Bahía de la Luna. Some, like Cat’s new neighbor Carlos, swear that Bahía de la Luna is full of ghosts. Maya is absolutely determined to meet one, while Cat would rather have nothing to do with ghosts in any capacity.
Give Ghosts a read for expressive characters, a wonderfully written family, and a touching narrative about confronting mortality.