Should You Time Travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Animal Crossing OG

After its introduction in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, New Horizons is the first mainline game to introduce time-gated progress in the game.  While most who play at the game's natural island pace might not mind the wait, fervent players want to access as much of the game as soon as possible.  Actually, considering I'm locked out of accessing my Nook Stop for 2 days as well, I'm tempted as well...

What is Time Traveling?

Time Traveling is a technique in all the Animal Crossing games where the player changes the date and time to reach certain events faster and expedite progress.  Since Animal Crossing progresses based on real time, players who want to fast forward to the next day's shop refresh, partake in time-locked events like Turnip selling, or catch seasonal critters might be tempted to time travel. 

How to Time Travel

Time Traveling is pretty simple for New Horizons.  Simply go into the Nintendo Switch Settings, click on "System", and select, "Date and Time" on the next menu.  From here you can change the time and date to the desired day.


For the purpose of daily reset-based events such as shop refreshing, time traveling forward will make the game believe you haven't played for however long you time traveled and update the island based on that.  Conversely, time traveling backwards will only count as one day "forward", but will trigger any time-specific events in the past.  

What Time Traveling Does

New Horizons has a few different consequences compared to previous Animal Crossing titles, though many things remain the same.


  • Hacking Through the Time-gate.  Much of the progress in New Horizons is time-gated, meaning buildings like the Museum and Nook's Cranny will take a day or so to complete building.  With Time Travel, players can step past the game bureaucracy red tape and finish their upgrades now.
  • Seasonal Critters and Events. You can catch critters out of their natural season or day/night cycle.  AC:NH Speed Run 100% Museum, anyone? Going backwards and forwards means being able to play certain seasonal events as well, like Sakura Blossom Viewing.
  • Fast Cash.  Buy Turnips on NOT a Sunday (Gasp) and cycle through the week for the best prices or keep on forcing foreign fruit to keep growing, funding your Banana Republic (ironically, bananas don't seem to be in AC:NH… yet).
  • Daily Resets on Demand.  The money rock, fossil spawns, and also Shop Offerings will reset every day.  This makes time traveling attractive to the collector who wants to cycle through everything to find the outfit they love.  Additionally, players can avoid the 20% penalty on late-night drop-off box sales by changing time to Nook's Cranny Open hours.  Convenience Fees be damned!


  • Cockroaches will spawn after any extended time.  They can't be caught in the house, and otherwise don't do anything except provide a stomping minigame.  Some people dislike roaches, while others might like killing them.
  • Bedhead. The player will come out of their house messier than Rip Van Winkle.  Just a cosmetic thing that gets shrugged off immediately.
  • Leaving Villagers. If your village has anywhere from 8-10 villagers, there is a chance that the villagers will move out/consider moving out.  If the villager isn't convinced to stay by the next time jump, they will leave. Depending on whether the player likes the villager in question or not this could be a boon or bane.


  • Burnout.  Blazing through the game can condense all of the content meant to be enjoyed over a long time into one high intensity play session, leaving players feeling like there's nothing to look forward to anymore.  While this may kill the long term interest for some, ultimately it varies with the player.
  • Online Events.  These will not only require a connection to the internet, but will also check if the date on the switch is valid as well.  If not, players cannot participate in the event, but no worries; setting the date right should fix everything.
  • Rotten Turnips.  Turnips will go bad in a week if unsold, and time traveling forward in large amounts of time will make this extremely likely.  Time traveling backwards will just count as the same day. Protect your investments! Time travel wisely.
  • Missing Random Villager Visits.  Some characters will randomly visit players' islands, but time travelling may not guarantee them to come.  Conversely, it might lower the chances of meeting traveling NPCs.
  • Overgrowth.  The island will be infested with weeds, lowering the Island Score and making more work for the player if they care about aesthetics.
  • Animal Crossing Purists.  They will crucify you for Time Traveling.  Jokes aside, there is a vocal segment of the community who believes that Time Traveling ruins the game experience.  This mainly affects interpersonal relationships though. If you're playing Animal Crossing by yourself and don't interact with other people, this should have absolutely no effect.

What Time Traveling Doesn't

  • Some special Events, like the upcoming Bunny Day Event in New Horizons are time-locked via Free Updates, so players cannot travel ahead for event-exclusive items without Nintendo releasing them first.
  • Flowers won't die, making things more manageable than some previous titles.  However, flowers also won't crossbreed if they aren't watered daily, and having a full village means a villager might leave.
  • Undo anything you did previously by accident or on purpose, like selling items or chopping down trees.
  • Send your time travel history and personal data to Nintendo while flagging your account for messing with timelines (at least as far as we know…)  SERN Rounders and Nintendo Ninjas also won't go after you, probably.

Does Time Traveling Count as Cheating?

Time Travel Ethics is the longstanding debate of Animal Crossing fans, drawing discourse as passionate as "Should pineapple go on pizza?"

Determining whether Time Traveling counts as cheating depends on the accuser's definition of cheating.  Let's look at what Nintendo has done since the launch of Animal Crossing:New Horizons.

On one hand, Nintendo has taken steps to fix "Severe Balance Issues" in Animal Crossing, namely the removal of the duplication glitch that could quickly result in an obscene amount of bells.  Additionally, they require an online check to participate in special events, providing incentive for players to be on the "right time."  

However, in comparison, making money from time traveling is nowhere near the same magnitude of expediency compared to duplication, with the most common strategy being the cumbersome turnip market.  Nintendo seems to have balanced around having time by creating systems that don't gain noticeable returns from inactivity: Interest caps at a paltry 100,000 Bells, the majority of income is still derived from catching critters/selling DIY furniture, and turnips are at best a gamble outside of forming an online cartel community, which presents its own problems.    

In short, the main benefit of Time Traveling is being able to check out what's down the road in terms of game features and items without needing to wait a corresponding amount of time in real life.  

At the end of the day, people are free to do what they want with their games so long as it doesn't break any laws.  Animal Crossing is a game about enjoying yourself; the real trouble comes from forcing personal views on others. The Animal Crossing reddit took a similar stance with their recent modpost: 

"Time Traveling is completely fine. Turns out, people can play their own game however they want. Everyone stop being jerks to people who TT."


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