Food For Thought: Animal Crossing: New Horizons - The Hemisphere Problem

Since it's demo during E3 2019, it was revealed players would have the option to set their Island based on their current hemisphere, to have the seasons match that of the real world, a series first! Whilst this feature was highly praised at the time, after being with the game for 9 months, there are a number of glaring issues that we'd like to discuss in this open ended post, which make me regret my choice of picking the Southern Hemisphere.

If you're a player in the Northern Hemisphere, most of this probably won't apply to you. First of all, I'm not knocking Nintendo for including this option. It's a very welcomed addition, and for a first try it's not something I'm going to get up in arms about, but with all these events, it seems like most of the games development went into the Northern Hemisphere, whilst those in the South were left as an afterthought.

If you're wondering what we're talking about, here are some examples. Most of the games marketing material focuses on the Northern Hemisphere. The Halloween update was Fall heavy, and the Thanksgiving/Christmas update showed the holidays in the Fall and Winter, respectively. Heck, they even had a two parter entitled the "Summer Update", which included swimming. I saw a number of posts on online forums from players in the South, worried they wouldn't be able to swim, as it was a seasonal feature exclusive to the Summer.

Halloween in Spring, Fireworks in Winter, Christmas in Summer. Yes, seeing Christmas lights in the Summer is something we do here in the South, and houses will even decorate with snowflake and winter themed lights, even though we're in the middle of Summer; but when you have this massive game only showing off these features in the North, it really makes me regret my decision on picking the Southern Hemisphere, and that's where the idea for this post stemmed from. So many of these official screenshots and trailers have lovely landscapes where the holidays go with the seasons... It makes me feel inspired, only to realise I'll have to do that in another 6 months time, where the cycle then repeats itself. This is a game that some of us have been playing for nearly 20 years, it's not that simple just to "switch off" how we've experienced these holidays in all the previous titles.


Most of Nintendo's biggest HQ's are in the Northern Hemisphere - Japan, America, Canada, UK, Europe - so it makes sense most of their marketing material would focus on that audience, but having an option to set your hemisphere, and then neglecting said audience just feels... strange. Even Tweets made by Nintendo AU to show off these holidays are ripped straight from the Isabelle Twitter accounts, set in the Northern Hemisphere. No effort has been made to even show the game in the correct hemisphere for that audience. Of course... at the time of writing this, Nintendo AU just put out a post of an Aussie and Kiwi Christmas Starter Pack, but I can say that's one of the only Tweets I've seen catered specifically to this audience - at least it's a step in the right direction!

Aussie and Kiwi Christmas starter pack 😉 #AnimalCrossingNewHorizons pic.twitter.com/MibGcTm98E

Here in Australia we often use Watermelons in place of Pumpkins for Halloween. I'll admit, it would be a bit much to ask them to program an entirely new crop into the game for a select few, but they could have included a customization option to have the Pumpkins resemble Watermelons.

via news.com.au

Granted, there are the odd occasions where tweets are made to cater to those in the south, but they are very few and far between, and only usually come out in response to seasonal events. Though the issue with this, Tweet especially, for most places in the Southern Hemisphere, this Tweet was made well after the Bug Off ended... At least the AU update videos remove the season from the title, and instead just call it a "free update".

 


Of course, I'm not expecting them to make an entirely separate update video just to cater for their much smaller audience in the South, but going back to the Summer update swimming fiasco, just adding a few scenes of the player swimming in the opposite hemispheres season would help that audience from feeling so alienated. Seeing all this marketing and promotional material, of all these wonderful seasonal holidays, set in the Northern Hemispheres, whilst my Island is set in the South with the opposite seasons, really hinders the enjoyment, and as stupid as it may sound, kind of makes my game feel "broken". With all this official material showing off Christmas lights in the Winter, it makes me ask myself "why can't my Island looks like that?".


Although this post may come across as entirely negative, in hindsight, it's a very minor issue, but overall it is an issue I regret, and something that I wish I could change. It makes me contemplate what hemisphere I should chose whenever the next game comes out, and was something I wanted to share my thoughts on to see if others agreed. For a first try, it's not something, but here's hoping with future series instalments, or even maybe in future game update to New Horizons, some of these glaring issues are worked on.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our mindless mumblings on the subject. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topic, too! As always, if you haven't already, be sure to follow us over on Twitter and Tumblr, as well as considering supporting us on Patreon if you're able to, your help and support goes a long way! Feel free to join our discord server too! 

Comments

  1. I feel just as you do. The game feels very structured for northern hemisphere players, and all updates seem to reflect that.

    At first it seems to make sense for the holidays to happen at the same time throughout the hemispheres since they're inspired by real holidays, but since I live in the southern hemisphere, I don't really care if the tanabata fireworks happen at the same time as japan. Having everyone out and about in a cold winter night watching fireworks (with fans!) is very weird.

    And even weirder: on Turkey day I felt VERY alienated by all the marketing showing the new furniture in pretty fall colors while I'd be stuck in spring, but once it hit the game it turned out all furniture had a spring and a fall color scheme. Why wasn't that shown? It always feels like the southern hemisphere experience is an afterthought.

    I really wish nintendo gave us the option to change hemispheres, even if it's a "once by year" opportunity to do it.

    (hi from Brazil!)

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  2. In the NH, during the Jungle season, when it's snowing they have special jingley version of the rain music. In the SH, when it's raining during Jingle season, just plain old rain music.

    Also, in Oct when one cherry blossoms fell, there were no Cherry blossom DIYs

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