Nintendo seemingly keeps changing its time travel rules for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Here’s why players are so frustrated.
When Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Switch in March, fans everywhere rejoiced over the ability to build private islands, find their favorite villagers and interact with new and returning NPCs. For a large faction of the fandom, a new game also meant new opportunities to time travel, in order to speed things up or even slow them down.
Nintendo frowns upon time travel, but for the last eight months, it’s also been super inconsistent with preventing it in-game. Following the latest update, which introduces the Turkey Day and Toy Day events, time traveling players are getting frustrated with the seemingly ever-changing rules.
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Nintendo’s Inconsistent Time Travel Rules
Ahead of April’s Bunny Day event, which is the Animal Crossing equivalent of Easter, Nintendo informed players it would be time-locking the event so players had to participate in real time. This means time traveling players weren’t able to manually change the time on their Switch and jump ahead. If they traveled to Bunny Day early, Zipper T. Bunny was nowhere to be found and everything on the island was as normal.
Nintendo did the same thing with the May Day and Museum Day events, once again preventing players from traveling ahead and participating before the rest of the fandom. However, the company seemed to let up on its time travel rules in the summer and early fall. Players were able to travel to any fireworks show in August as soon as the update dropped, and the same was true for Halloween, which is arguably a much bigger deal.
Now, Nintendo seems to have walked back its leniency with time traveling for events. Following the Nov. 19 update, which introduces new reactions, new hairstyles and two holiday events — Turkey Day and Toy Day — time traveling players quickly began to vent their frustrations on social media. Changing their Switch’s time and date to Nov. 26 and Dec. 24, respectively, yielded no special visitors or holiday parties. Some players were able to acquire one or two new seasonal Nook’s Cranny items, but otherwise, early festivities seem to be a no-go.
Why Time Traveling Animal Crossing Players Are Frustrated
Time travel has been a mainstay of the Animal Crossing franchise since the first game was released in 2001. It’s also hotly contested. Players who don’t time travel frequently frown upon the act and think it ruins the experience overall, because time travelers spoil upcoming events and, occasionally, make Nintendo react by changing rules across the board for all players. For example, when Nintendo lowered the interest rate for savings accounts earlier this year, time travelers took the blame.
However, there are legitimate reasons for time travel in New Horizons. Oftentimes, players aren’t able to participate in events as they’re happening. The ability to play ahead — or go back and play after — allows them to have the same fun as everyone else, just at a different time and without having to sacrifice seeing loved ones, picking up extra shifts at work, or otherwise doing things where they can’t also be on their Switches.
Currently, it’s possible to time travel backwards and play Bunny Day, May Day, Museum Day, fireworks shows and Halloween, so it’s likely Nintendo will allow players to do the same with Turkey Day and Toy Day. That said, more than one player commented on social media that the appeal of playing events ahead of time is also tied up in the excitement of the season and the ability to get festive items for decorating islands and homes. Playing after allows them to complete the event in question, but there’s a real sense of FOMO that doesn’t present itself so acutely when time travelers do events ahead of time.
Ultimately, Animal Crossing players who time travel are upset about Nintendo locking Turkey Day and Toy Day — but they’re more upset about the inconsistency. If Nintendo doesn’t want players time traveling ahead, it should lock all events, not just some of them.
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