With major lockdowns and quarantines going on due to the COVID-19 epidemic, many fans may be disappointed that their physical copy of Animal Crossing may not arrive on March 20th. Although certain retailers like GameStop are attempting to take advantage of "Essential Retail" status to stay open, there's still options to scratch that island life itch while respecting the mandatory Social Distance.
As someone who grew up on cartridges, there's something about being able to hold the cartridge in your hand (though licking them is discouraged by the manufacturer). However, save files are stored on the Switch's system memory, and according to Nintendo themselves, playing the game from a physical or digital copy should have no difference on the save file and gameplay. With the convenience of Nintendo's eShop, there's no need to go outside! Just whip out your credit card, buy the game, and you're good to go!
The major downside is the need to shell out another $59.99 USD on the Nintendo eShop. While the physical copy can be returned or canceled, being $120 down for Animal Crossing even temporarily might not be worth the now experience for some people.
Although it's not quite the same, playing old versions of Animal Crossing is a great way to whet the hunger in the meantime. Of course, some fans may have already been doing this, so here are a few alternatives:
Okay, it's almost cheating to suggest this, but it's a free mobile game. How bad can it be? (Remember to spend responsibly if you do). Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp condenses a lot of the Animal Crossing experience onto mobile. While it's certainly more limited in terms of things to do, there are many elements from here that made it into New Horizons, like an Open Beta of sorts. Thankfully, building acceleration for microtransactions isn't one of them. Yet.
Stardew Valley isn't a replacement for Animal Crossing by any means, but it might fill the chill, relaxed gameplay people are looking for in the meantime. While there's an emphasis on farming and exploration, Animal Crossing fans may also enjoy the social aspect of chatting up villagers and building up relationships with them as well. The farm has endless amounts of customization, and there's even multiplayer available! It's also cheaper than shelling out for a second copy of Animal Crossing.
For those who really love building, it's hard to not recommend the most popular building games. While Minecraft is 3D and has the potential to be more relaxed, Terraria's 2D world has an extreme amount of items, events, and NPC's that makes for varied play sessions. In the end, it's up to player preference for which one they may prefer, though both are excellent games capable of making entire days disappear at a time.
Here's where this opinion piece gets even more opinionated.
You see those dishes in the sink from a few days back? That corner of your house looking a bit dusty? If you're going to customize and prettify your in-game island, might as well apply that IRL as well.
You know how you said you'll always work on that drawing, or build something cool? Well, now might be a good time. You got the few days you were going to devote to Animal Crossing anyway.
Hey, maybe you already filed your taxes. Good on you. Now would be a good time to file taxes, with a month before the original due date (and potentially more). For most people there are a lot of free or heavily discounted options to file, but if you want to figure it out there's time to do so as well. Plus with the tax returns, there's more money to spend on games. Wait… In the event you somehow owe money, it'd be better to know sooner as well.
While people are panicking buying stuff like toilet paper and the like, you can do some research and get an actual leg over them if you need to bunker down. Competent Disaster Preparation is never a bad thing, and what better time than now?
OK, let's not do something productive. Aside from watching TV and ordering takeout, playing games is what you were going to do anyway, right? If not for something similar to Animal Crossing, playing other games is an equally valid way to pass the time. Maybe you want to keep your anticipation fresh? I don't know. Have at it, though.