ACNH: Get to Know Your Island


Nintendo’s Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a game series from Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. The video games simulate real-life through a customizable character that you play. There is usually a scenario and specific setting for each Animal Crossing game like the city setting of Animal Crossing: City Folk. Some other examples include Animal Crossing: Wild Worldand Animal Crossing: New LeafThe latest installment is called Animal Crossing: New Horizons and is commonly abbreviated as ACNH. There are also small spin-off games with different themes, like Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, where you design homes for the villagers, or computer-played characters, that you would encounter in the regular version of ACNH.


A Brief Introduction

This article is a short guide for someone looking to start playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’ll learn everything you need to know, and then you can develop your game as you see fit.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

You can buy a Nintendo Switch with a specialized Animal Crossing design!

In the game, your character buys a getaway package to a deserted island from Tom Nook (who is a default villager, mentioned later). The game starts in an airport setting where you are preparing to choose your island and then fly there. Once there, you can start performing everyday tasks and upgrading your island. The game doesn’t follow a strict planned order, but every day there will be pre-planned announcements and updates.


Getting Started

At the airport, you will meet Timmy and Tommy Nook from Nook Inc., related to Tom Nook. The game asks you for your name (which can’t be changed!) and your birthday. The game doesn’t appear to have an age limitation. Then, they will take a picture of you. Here’s where you get to customize and choose your looks! You can choose your gender, skin tone, hair, color, eyes, nose, mouth, and cheek color. This can be changed later.

Your Personal Island

When you start customizing your island, the Nooks will first ask you for your island’s location, which can be in the northern or southern hemispheres. The Nooks recommend choosing a location corresponding to your current location for the same seasonal patterns, but the choice is yours. The Nooks will ask you where you currently live, but if you don’t want your island to be situated there, you can simply choose another area. A special feature is that day and night in the game will correspond to the real-world location you choose for your island (mentioned later). If you choose a location that is close to where you actually live, then the game’s times will be the same as yours. Weather will also randomly change on your island, and will not necessarily be the same as reality.

Island Layouts

You will then choose from several island layouts, distinguished by river exits. All islands are roughly rectangular in shape have a river that splits and then enters the ocean in two spots on two sides of the island. There are several ponds spread out over the island, with an interesting heart shape for several specific island layouts. When you choose your design, an Animal Crossing (leaf) logo will represent the location of your plaza, where important ceremonies and such will occur. There is a slight disadvantage, which is that you can’t cross the river without a vaulting pole, an item acquired later. That means your home must temporarily be on the side of the island with the airport, but you may move your home.

Getting the island layout you want in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) - Polygon
These are four examples of ACNH island layouts

Reset Your Game

The Nooks provide you with four designs, and if you are unsatisfied, you can reset your game. You must go through the steps that you already have, but you will have four reset island designs, though they may not all be different from the ones before. Resetting your game can be useful throughout the entire game, whether you regret choosing a layout, the native fruit is not to your liking (mentioned later), or you want to start your island from scratch because of various reasons.

Going to Your Island

They then ask you one interesting question, which just depends on personal preference: “If you could only bring ONE thing with you to a deserted island, what would it be?” You have the options of a sleeping bag, a lamp, some food, or something to kill time. The question seems important, but most people say that the question is simply just hypothetical, as Timmy says.

You will then board your flight to your deserted island!! Before you get there, there will be a video shown about island life which is sort of like a trailer to Animal Crossing. You can see the different weather conditions, activities, and some villagers that are present in the game. And then finally, you get your first glimpse at your new island.


Island Features

Every island comes equipped with a native fruit, some default villagers, and two villagers that are randomly generated. You can collect villagers and make them leave, and you can also grow flowers and fruits not native.

Native Fruit

Your island will have either peaches, pears, apples, oranges, or cherries. This is a cause of frustration for many gamers, and if you have a specific fruit in mind, you may have to reset your game multiple times. If you aren’t too picky, all fruits can be grown eventually, by being brought from other islands or from gifts.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) tree guide - Polygon
Fruits of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (without peaches and apples)

Native Flowers

A fact not widely known, your island’s native flowers are actually based on your birth month, which you put into the game near the beginning. Flowers can go through several phases of growth and be bred for hybrids or cloned. Several examples are roses, tulips, lilies, hyacinths, and windflowers. A task on the island is watering your flowers, and flowers can be used for crafting and decorations. Flowers can be relocated with a shovel, another appliance you must craft yourself like a vaulting pole. Flowers have special attributes when watered by visitors, and features that you can discover as you develop your island.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) flowers and hybrids guide - Polygon
Examples of flower species and colors


Every island has an airport and they are all named Dodo Airlines. Though the outside of your airport may look relatively tiny, Animal Crossing makes it so that structures take up very little room, but they can be expanded and are a lot larger inside.

Tom Nook introduces the island to the player and two default villagers


Animal-Crossing-New-Horizons-airport-interior - myPotatoGames
The inside of the airport, and the dodo bird who will assist you with your flights

As shown in the first picture of the airport, the moment you step onto your island you will see your two default villagers. These villagers have also bought the island getaway package, but they won’t do anything important without your consent or knowledge. You can’t choose your default characters, but you can gain more and get rid of these villagers if you don’t like them.

Island Plaza

Your island will also have its very own plaza, which is an area where ceremonies such as introducing new villagers and new structures will occur. A while into the game, there will start to be announcements held there every day. These announcements will talk about important things that you need to know before you start your day, like building updates. Part of the plaza is also the bulletin board, which is interactive and you can post things there. Some gamers simply use the board as a daily update area, where they record what they did each day. You can use the bulletin board for whatever you want, even nothing at all.

Tom Nook starts the first day of island announcements


In this picture, the plaza has been updated, which you can do later in the game

Natural Features

On every island, there will be a river. As mentioned before, you need a vaulting pole to cross the river. That means you have limited access to your island before you build your pole.

A player uses their vaulting pole to cross a river

Rivers can also be crossed by building bridges. Bridges might start out crude, but they can be upgraded as you progress with your island.

How to terraform your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons | TechRadar
A pretty stone bridge is built across a river, and in the background, there are stairs to climb cliffs

There will also be cliffs, usually on the other side of the river. You can build stairs as shown in the picture above, but that comes later in the game. At first, you will need to build a ladder in order to scale these cliffs. On top of the cliffs, many gamers plant flowers and trees or build a house that overlooks the island.

Climbing cliffs in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) - Polygon
A player stands in front of a cliff with a ladder

Flora and Fauna

Every island has trees and flowers, which you may know, but there are other species that you must travel to other islands to get to know. For example, bamboo is a plant where you have to gain sprouts from the islands you visit. Animals, like spiders, snails, bees, fish, and more will appear on your island, but they will not necessarily be available at first.


You can terraform your island, which is sort of like what you can do in Minecraft. You can position the cliffs and landforms wherever you want, like creating scenic waterfalls next to your house as shown in the picture below. This part of the game generally comes after your island is well set up, making it easy to put finishing touches on your island without having to change it later when you add more. After that, you can enjoy your island life peacefully.

A player terraforms their island

Island Life

Now, you know the basics of starting a new island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Get out there and develop your island! For more information or tips, check YouTube and Google for informative tutorials and blogs.


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