Home / Technology / 14 Best Animal Crossing: New Horizon Tips for Nintendo Switch (Updated)

14 Best Animal Crossing: New Horizon Tips for Nintendo Switch (Updated)

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Tom Nook, Blathers and all other residents of your island community celebrate all your major milestones. This is how you reach the milestones even faster.

Screenshot of David Priest / CNET

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch is an addictive island life simulator. I am already obsessed with find the rare fish, bugs and plants that fill the beloved franchise, especially online with friends. In fact, the slow, anxiety-free game may just be the perfect antidote to the reality of social distance and quarantine during coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve dug up a few clicks of wisdom to make the game smoother and more rewarding as you build your life on the island, and I’ve added more every day as I’ve explored. If you are unfamiliar with the series, a little direction can help you navigate the game so you not only collect everything you see – there is more structure than meets the eye.

So here are some tips and tricks for players of all kinds, whether Animal Crossing is already at home in your Switch or still on your personal horizon. I’ll update this post when more tips come along.

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Travel back in time before moving forward

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Time travel is a major topic of conversation in the Animal Crossing community, and it is controversial. Because the game takes place in real time, you actually have to wait really well day for buildings to be built and plants to grow. And Animal Crossing: New Horizons Starts Slow. So if you suspect that you want a faster start, you should consider setting your Nintendo Switch clock seven to ten days back. That way, as you play, you may encounter it a day with a few hours to cover some of the early, slower development of the game faster.

By setting the clock back before you start rather than zooming forward afterwards, you give yourself the chance to come back in real time. That way you can pretend you’ve never cheated (and you don’t have to have a beautiful watch forever).

Don’t pay your debts

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Tom Nook, the wealthy business wagon who finances your adventure and constantly pressures you to spend more money than you have, deposits you with what feels like deep debt on your first day. It takes some time to build up Nook Miles – a performance-based currency – early in the game, but work to earn them quickly and pay off the first debt ASAP. The faster you repay your first loan, the faster Tom will build you a home and, most importantly, give you the extra storage you need for everything you need to start collecting.

Invite new city people to your island

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There are hundreds of potential villagers – all with their own personalities and unique designs – who can move to your island, but your little swatch can only hold 10 at a time. As you build the barren island at the beginning of the game, the hand-picking of your cohabitants adds wealth to your personal utopia.

To attract the first three cities, just buy Nook Miles tickets to other islands from the Nook Stop machine in Resident Services. The first three islands you visit will feature a character who is interested in joining your community. But when you welcome the first three beginners, Tom Nook will ask you to build a campsite, where tourists will stay one day at a time. Invite campers and they will also move to your island.

As a bonus, you can buy collectible Amiibo characters or cards of your favorite Nintendo characters online, and they let you invite unique villagers with special attributes to your island. As those who have used Amiibo in other Nintendo games know, they are not important to the core game, but they add little elements to further customize your experience and sometimes even cross characters between Nintendo features.

Plant lots of fruit (and even money)

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Fruit trees are a great way to get income early in the game, and once you get a shovel, it’s easy to plant a pear or apple tree and pay off quickly. Another half-card form of income: money trees!

Around the island, golden beams sometimes glow from the ground. Excavate them and you will find a bag of bells (the island’s primary currency). Instead of putting on the bells and covering the hole, you can plant the bag to grow a money tree. In fact, if you choose the bells in your warehouse and hand out a bag of 10,000, you can actually grow a tree that drops bags by 10,000 bells when it grows up. However, be careful. I have tested as many as 50,000 watches at a time and the yield is still only three bags of 10,000.

Take advantage of special visitors

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Within the first few days of your island adventure, you’ll probably meet a unique visitor – like Gulliver, the seagull sleeping on the beach, or Wisp, the slightly frightened ghost. Each of these visitors will learn something, sell you something or send you on a short assignment. These missions will give you unique rewards for items.

My personal favorite guest so far is C.J., a beaver blogger who loves to fish. He asks you to catch special fish for him, order fish decorations for you (from another unique visitor) and pay you extra for all the fish you sell him. On a single day with C.J. I ordered a handful of fish decorations to hang on my walls and made almost 60,000 bells just fishing. It was a good day.

Play Stalk Market (when it’s worth the time)

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Playing Stalk Market is a pretty reliable way to increase your weekly revenue. You can buy turnips on Sundays from Daisy Mae for prices that usually hover around 100 watches. During the rest of the week you can check out the morning and afternoon at the Nook’s Cranny store to see the prices for turnips. The goal is to buy low and sell high.

Some important notes: predators rot after a week, so you can’t just hoard them and wait for a huge salary. And checking prices twice a day takes time, so you probably don’t want to start investing in turnips until time is worth paying. I don’t invest if I have at least 50,000 watches. Then even a small price increase can lead to a significant return. And I’ve seen reports on sales prices up to 600 watches.

Organize your island

As you settle into the island life, you begin to develop a daily routine: exploring, collecting and building. But your routine can be a lot easier – and require fewer trips back and forth from your house to store what you find – if you organize effectively from the start. The easiest way to do this is by planting your fruit trees in clear gardens. You can even label the orchards with custom signs made with the design app on your Nook Phone, as one reader pointed out in the comments below. Once organized, harvesting fruit in the mornings will be quick and profitable, and you can spend all the time spent exploring, fishing and collecting shells that you really want.

Use a stone ax, not an iron

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If we have learned something over the past millennia, it is that iron chopping trees better than stone does, right? In Animal Crossing, you might not will to cut down your trees; You might just want wood, soft wood or hard wood for crafts. Fortunately, the stone ax extracts these types of wood without chop down the tree.

Make and use fish herbs

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As you walk long and quiet walks on the beach you may notice that small jets of water sprout up from the sand. When you see them, take out your shovel and dig! Manila clams hide under the sand, and you can create them for fish bait. When fishing for rare fish, you can use that bait to give yourself better odds, attract more fish in specific places such as mountain streams and at the end of the pier.

Catch all fish and bugs

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The other thing you should do is catch every animal you see – which pretty much consists of fish and bugs. Watch for flowers for stink bugs and mantis, snag butterflies in the groves and shake trees and stones to find pills bugs and spiders. This is how my colleague caught the elusive stranded fish.

As soon as you create your first bug net and fishing rod, start handing your collected critters to Tom Nook. Sure, you can sell these creatures to Timmy and Tommy, the island’s resident traders, but Tom Nook sends each unique discovery to his friend Blather’s owl, who lives off the island.

Long story short, after enough donations, Blather’s owl will build a museum on the island and set you on a much larger collection project and open the game considerably.

Learn to crawl

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Catching fish requires a bit of training, but I didn’t realize that I fell wrong until a few days into the game. Instead of rushing up and swinging the net wildly, you can crawl forward by holding down the A button when the net is in your hand. As you approach, some bugs – such as tarantulas and mantis – will have a defensive stance. Wait a few moments for them to calm down and continue to crawl forward. This will get you close enough to pick up a bug before it even tries to escape.

Always keep a net while shaking trees

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During your first day or two on the island, as you run around shaking trees to get sticks (how else are you going to build that ax?), Wasps will sometimes fall from the branches. Find yourself on the wrong side of a stinger without medication and you walk away. However, once you build the fault network it is a good rule of thumb to always keep it while shaking trees. Not only can you catch vengeful wasps, but you can also keep spiders and other creepy crawlers that have come loose from their homes.

Fruit gives you great powers

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If you eat fruit, you will notice a counter in the upper left corner of the screen. This indicator shows how many pieces of fruit you have eaten (up to 10), and for each you can perform a super performance, such as breaking a stone or digging up an entire tree. Digging up trees helps make groves easy to pick, and when you visit other islands it helps to transplant new fruit trees without having to wait for them to grow again. All that said, don’t break the ROCKS! Actually…


Screenshot of David Priest / CNET

Iron, clay and stone are all useful resources early in the game, but they are difficult to come by. When you hit a rock with an ax or shovel, it spits out one of these three resources. But you only get a handful. “So,” you think, “let me eat fruit and hit a rock. Then I’ll get ALL the resources, right?” WRONG! When you break a rock, you get a single resource, and you have to wait for another rock to play somewhere else on the island (which, remember, takes real-time days). The two exceptions are if you try to make room for another construction, or if you destroy stones to make them play closer to your home for easier harvesting.

Watch the sky

Screenshot of David Priest / CNET

At night, shooting stars sometimes blink across the sky. If you look up and see one, you can press the A button to request it. Desiring stars causes star fragments to wash on the beach the next day, which can help you create unique objects, such as magic wand.

Shooting stars seem to move in packages, so if you see one in the sky, keep looking for a few seconds – you can get a handful of free wishes. Also, on nights when Blathers’ sister Celeste visits the island, more meteor showers than usual will take place.

Craft is king (especially when you’re on the go)

Creating tools and objects from the waste you discover around the island is a huge element early in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and you often want to be crafted while walking far from home. If you always keep a workbench in your warehouse, you can just pick it down anywhere and get your craft on without the awkward hike back to your tent or house.

Once you have completed these tricks, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will really start to open up for you. Keep discovering and creating, keep chatting with your upper hand and above all destressing while you do it.

Now that you know how to get started on your island trip in Animal Crossing, check out some other tips for that Get the most out of your Nintendo Switch and that seven other Switch games you need to play.

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