Animal Crossing: New Horizons Emanates Powerful Flip Phone Nostalgia

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Emanates Powerful Flip Phone Nostalgia

Anything worth saying can be said in three words and an acronym.

The Animal Crossing series is powerfully nostalgic in a lot of ways. We can fill our houses with retro Nintendo paraphernalia, and wear an "NDTO" shirt that reminds us Nintendo was founded in 1889. We talk about Animal Crossing's denizens like they're old friends and are always keen to meet up with them again in new games. (Yes, even Tom Nook, the series' passive-aggressively pushy landlord.)

But there's another, stranger way that Animal Crossing makes me feel nostalgic, and it hits especially hard with the just-released New Horizons for the Switch. When visitors drop in on my island, or when I intrude upon them, we communicate through short, stark texts that rarely extend beyond a few words because they're so time-consuming to write. I'm playing Nintendo's most state-of-the art game to date, a digital miracle that lets you funnel your will into shaping the very land itself, but my succinct, spartan communications date back to my 2005 Nokia feature phone.

I'm not complaining. Again, Animal Crossing is great at making warm, nostalgic feelings bubble up to the surface of my (oh so weary) soul. The hunt-and-peck method of communication takes me back to when text messages were a novelty that took time to craft, and you therefore had to think about how to convey your feelings with as few words as possible. Acronyms are a big part of social media today, but they were vital back when phones could only manage around 100 characters. (They also confused—and even frightened—parents, who believed their kids were using code to organize shenanigans and Satan worship.)

Unsurprisingly, acronyms are a vital part of communication in New Horizons, too. Sending messages back and forth in New Horizons takes time and patience, but to be honest, it's still much easier than sending communications via my old Nokia, God bless its impenetrable cobalt shell and tinny digitized "Mr. Brightside" ringtone. At least New Horizons has a full keyboard. In the dark ages, you had to press your number pad repeatedly until it landed on the letter or punctuation mark you wanted. Sometimes we didn't bother. Sometimes we just dialed our friend and talked to them. Just the thought of going back to that time makes me shudder a little bit.

If you're the impatient type and you can't grok the historic value of being methodical about New Horizons' message system, take heart: the game has keyboard support. Don't cave, though. Keep on typing out your messages bit-by-bit while your letter choices are read back to you in Animalese. New Horizons is designed for slow absorption, after all. It took me a little longer to type out "TOM NOOK STILL BLOWS GOATS" on my town's message board letter-by-letter, but when I looked back upon my mighty works, my heart filled. Truly the greatest flash fiction written since "For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn," and it was Animal Crossing: New Horizons' leisurely message system that let me put the necessary amount of consideration into every word.

You definitely want to earn as many bells as possible as quickly as possible, though. Forget slowly drifting through New Horizons while your soul heals: Time is money, and I'm not ready to lay down odds that we won't get wiped out by a meteor tomorrow. Visit our Animal Crossing: New Horizons money-making guide for a boost.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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