Howdy, friends! Jorel is in the house, and he’s ready to play some games with the best sister/author in the world, Bailey Day! Let’s GO!!!

Man, it sure has been a tough time for all of us hasn’t it? We’re going through a world-encompassing plague, forced to shelter in social isolation for months on end, all while living under the stress that each passing day will only be tougher on us than the last for as long as this pandemic rides out. Good times. . .

Well, nothing else to do but distract ourselves from the grave terrors of the outside world with a bit of digital entertainment! And that’s just what Bailey Day and I were looking forward to doing once we found out we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a very long time. And lucky for us, Nintendo’s new game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, was fast approaching its’ release date. Bailey Day and I looked forward to being able to relax on our very own island paradise and make new (virtual) animal friends.

You’re probably thinking: “Animal-what now?“, right? First of all, you’ve been missing out. Second of all, allow me to explain what the Animal Crossing series is all about for those in need of clarification. Animal Crossing is a video game series by Nintendo, and it’s very different from the other kinds of games that they develop. It’s a “life simulator”. It simulates real life. Now hold on! Stay with me here! Real life doesn’t have to be boring. It can be exciting at times. And it can be especially exciting when all of your neighbors are talking animals! That is the premise of Animal Crossing. You start a new life in a town inhabited by civilized animal creatures. The main objective of the game is to pay off your massive home loan to the tanuki Tom Nook (the crook), but other than that, you’re free to do whatever you want with your new life. Sounds fun?

The first Animal Crossing game released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2001 (technically the first game of the series was Animal Forest on the Nintendo 64, but that was a Japan exclusive). There have been 4 more Animal Crossing games since: Animal Crossing: Wild World, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and of course the latest installment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’ve played City Folk and New Leaf before, both very good games, and I couldn’t wait to try out New Horizons. Bailey Day was eager to join in the fun as well.

Each Animal Crossing game has always had a special theme surrounding the gameplay. For example, in City Folk, there was a city connected to your town that you could visit to do some various ‘”big city” activities, and in New Leaf, you were not just a villager in your town, but the mayor of the entire place as well! In New Horizons, Nintendo took a completely different approach to the series. With Tom Nook’s special Deserted Island Getaway Package, you and a couple animal acquaintances get to partake in building a thriving community from the ground up. You start the game on a deserted island, with nothing but a tent, a phone, and the clothes on your back. If we were going to make this a comfortable place to live, it was inevitably going to take a while. However, all that can be dealt with later. The first thing to do when building a community is to give it a name. I decided on the name Hunky-dory, which is the name we all agreed upon in the end, but the others had some pretty good ideas as well.

“Swoleville” would have been my second choice.

You already know who I am. Let’s meet the rest of the merry trio: the pioneers of Hunky-dory!

Meet Tybalt, a tough tiger who claims to be able to do upwards of 5,000 push-ups in a row without breaking a sweat, and will gladly do the reps for you if you ask. He’s a bit of a meathead, always having muscles and exercise on the mind. He’s all brawn and no brain. Nevertheless, he’s a great friend to have, and can always be counted on to do some heavy-lifting whenever the need arises.

Tybalt thinks he is strong enough to single-handedly take down COVID-19. I don’t think he understands how germs work. . .

The final member of our band is the sassy chicken, Plucky. Plucky isn’t exactly sure why she’s here. In fact, she regrets even thinking about going on this Island Getaway Package at all! But this is her life now, so she wants to make the most of it. And hey! At the rate she’s paying off Tom Nook’s home loan, she’ll be debt-free in about, oh, 167 years! Good for her!

Photo op!

Ah, and of course we can’t forget about Bailey Day! She flew in right after the three of us got settled. She received her own tent, her own phone, her own clothes on her back, and she was ready to begin living the deserted island life on Hunky-dory with the rest of us. With preparations out of the way, it was time to create an island worth living on.

Bailey Day and I, just chillin’.

The next step in creating the perfect community was to build facilities that would attract more prospective homeowners to the island. But in order to do that, we’d need tools. A new feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons that hasn’t been in any other game in the series is the “crafting” feature. Collecting various resources from around the island would allow you to be able to make some Do-It-Yourself crafting projects to make your own tools and furniture. DIY proved to be a great help in building up the island, as expected from one of the main gameplay features.

By crafting fishing rods and bug nets, we were able to catch plenty of sea creatures, river fish, and bugs(wretched things); the local wildlife having quite an impression on Tom Nook’s friend, the knowledgeable owl, Blathers. He was moved by the wealth of knowledge that Hunky-dory could provide, so he built a museum on Hunky-dory where he could catalogue and exhibit all of the islands incredible creatures.

Animal Crossing is notorious for its fishing and bug-catching puns.

Crafting axes and shovels would allow us to harvest wood from trees and stone and iron from rocks. Once we collected enough materials, we were able to build our very own shop on the island, which would be managed by Tom Nook’s nephews, Timmy and Tommy. We even encouraged a couple of hedgehog tailors to open a clothing store on the island. No longer would we have to settle with the clothes on our backs. We could buy new clothes, sewn professionally by the Able Sisters. Life was improving on Hunky-dory already.

Those party poppers man. . . you never get used to them.

By then, the four of us had graduated from tents and were now living in our very own houses. Now it was time to make some new friends. Another new feature in New Horizons that hasn’t been in any other Animal Crossing game is the ability to place furniture items outside. Believe it or not, you couldn’t do that in other games. Decorating your island is a great way to encourage more animals to move to your island. Soon enough, four other animals moved to the island, pretty much doubling the population of our little space:

With more characters moving in every day and even more island decorating going on, the island was nearly perfect. All we needed now was something special to bring it all together. We hired the famous dog musician, K.K. Slider, to fly in and put on a great performance for everyone on the island. Everyone enjoyed themselves as K.K. serenaded Hunky-dory with the sweet strum of his guitar and the rich sound of his voice. What a great end to a great game.

K.K. Slider’s concert.

Of course, Animal Crossing never truly ends. Life always goes on. There’s Tom Nook’s ever-present debt to pay off and there’s so many more features to explore. The fun practically never ends.

When you complete all of the main objectives of the game, you unlock the ability to bend the earth and waters to your very will, yet another new feature that hasn’t been in any of the other games. With the inclusion of “terraforming” in New Horizons, there’s literally nothing you can’t do. You want to turn your island into a giant, impassable lake? You can do that. Do you want to build an earthen wall around your worst enemy’s house, trapping them in so they can’t bother you anymore? You can do that. Do you want to construct a mountain so high that it touches the sky? Well, you can’t do that. That would be too dangerous. I’ve seen islands made by other people that have mastered the art of terraforming, and they can do some very remarkable things. Everyone has their own vision of their perfect island, and I hope you get a glimpse of my vision in the next few moments.

Now you know Hunky-dory’s story, let’s take a look back at some

Memorable Moments

Have I mentioned how beautiful this game is? It’s definitely an upgrade from the other games in that respect. Here’s Rex, Bailey, and I admiring the butterflies in the museum.
See? Tybalt is a BEAST!
Look, it’s the princess and the frog! Eh? Eh?!
Bailey and Rhonda, chatting about the books and magazines they read, a topic that’s right up Bailey Day’s alley.
Bailey Day, having caught what is probably her favorite species of fish.
Oh, look! K.K. has stopped by Hunky-dory to put on another performance. It’s always a treat to hear him sing.
Now this is a good picture. Look at all of us having fun.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. (But why am I in a police officer’s getup?)

But just like real life, friends can’t stick around forever. Things come up. Animals gotta migrate. Plucky was the first to move from Hunky-dory. All of the new animals moving in to our little island was making her anxious, so one day she just up and decided to leave. A few moons after she left, Tybalt was getting the idea to move as well. He was looking to experience new challenges on a new island, and how could I dissuade him from following his dreams? Bailey and I wished him luck on his new adventures and sent him off with a smile. I still miss the big guy though. Hunky-dory just hasn’t been the same without him. Rhonda and Sprinkle have moved too, both having their own separate reasons. Rex and Henry have stuck around though. I guess the Hunky-dory life has really grown on them.

You’ll be missed Tybalt. Keep on lifting.
Oh? What’s this? A shameless product placement of Bailey Day’s book, The Amazing Imagination Machine, that you can purchase and read now on Amazon that’s only a quick link away? How did that get there?
Rex, Daisy the good-natured dog, and Henry, sportin’ some fire shades like the GOATs they are, dawg.
Ah, that makes sense. . .
It seems that it’s possible to make enemies even in a game like Animal Crossing. Here’s a letter Bailey Day wrote to Shari, the cheeky monkey, after Shari said she had a distaste for chocolate directly to her face. That counts as a crime in Bailey Day’s book.
WHOA! Now that’s a big fish!
Man, Rex is high on life right now.
Bailey Day has been having the same problem, Norma (the normal cow).
Summer fireworks. How pretty.

Bailey Day may say that she loves all of her animal friends equally, but we all know that’s not true. There is almost 400 different characters that could be a potential new neighbor on your island, each one having their own unique appearance and personality (well, actually, there are only 8 personalities. So much for uniqueness. . .). Just like flavors of ice cream or colors of the rainbow, only one villager can be Bailey Day’s most favorite. Any idea who it could be? He’s small, adorable, and the Frankenstein’s monster of Animal Crossing. Say his name, friends, you know who it is! Introducing: Stitches.

Stitches

And how could you not love a face like that? Stitches is a teddy bear brought to life, because this is Animal Crossing, and anything goes in this fantasy world. It’s understandable if you find him a bit uncanny with his “X-stitched eyes” and his mish-mash of multicolored patchwork body parts, but those aspects of him just add to his cute charm. Those who find him living on their island tend to love him to the point that they never want to let him go. And can you blame them? Just look at him! He’s a tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, that willy-nilly silly old bear! And the question regarding the absurdity of whether a teddy bear should be allowed to own a house or not is a debate that will not be brought up during this blog.

Yeah, all right Bailey Day. You can keep your little stuffed toy bear. But do you want to know who my favorite Animal Crossing villager is? My 1 in 400? The animal that I dream to always be friends with on Hunky-dory? She’s full of pride, she’s got her joey by her side, and she’s a dark grey storm of awesomeness. My friends, meet Mathilda.

Mathilda

That’s right. One look at her, and you can tell that this kangaroo isn’t messing around. Mathilda is fabulous, and she knows it. That ebony fur coat, those deep lavender accents, and those striking red and yellow eyes that could send anyone running the other way with a single stern glare form the animal that all Hunky-dorians hold in high regard. And she’s raising a family! She’s a kangaroo of many passions. A lot of people often look at Mathilda and immediately pass her off as meanspirited and angry just because of her appearance. Don’t judge a book by its cover, friends. When I look at Mathilda, I don’t see malice in those eyes. That is a look of fierce determination. The look of an animal who plans to live her life to the fullest, and share her story with everyone she meets. She’s kind, she’s wise, and in my opinion, she’s one cool kangaroo.

Mathilda and I in the museum’s impressive aquarium. I could stay here and watch the fish all day. It’s so relaxing.
Wise words.
Bailey and I celebrating Halloween. Bailey and I dressed up as certain characters from her book. Can you tell who we dressed up as? (I’ll admit, the costumes could look better, but we did the best we could using what we had.)
Bailey and the bubbly hippopotamus, Bubbles, discussing the magic of the holidays.

Speaking of the holidays, check out what Bailey Day got me for Christmas 2020. Yeah, that’s a clay model of Mathilda you’re looking at. She custom ordered it from an artist on Etsy.com. It perfectly captures all of Mathilda’s flawless features and magnificent sense of style. It sits on my desk all day. I can’t stop admiring it. What a great gift. Thanks Bailey Day.

Well, little did Bailey Day know that I also had a special surprise in store for her on Christmas 2020. As you can see, I got her the perfect answer to the present she gifted me. A stuffed animal of the stuffed bear cub himself. Of course, she loved it immediately, and I know that she’ll cherish it for as long as she lives. You’re welcome, Bailey Day.

Let’s DANCE!!!
This picture was taken just after the dawn of 2021. Let’s make this year a better one than 2020 was.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has so many fun events and features that you’ll want to keep coming back for more every day. Bailey Day had a special interest in taking photos at Harvey’s photography studio. And Bailey Day, always bearing the passion to tell new stories in new ways, took it upon herself to make some compelling dramas with Animal Crossing characters. I won’t show all of the photos, since there are just SO MANY of them and I’ve shown you so many already, but I’ll provide you with a general plot summary of each.

Bailey Day started simple with her first project. Stitches, Mathilda and I starred as the main characters. The story followed Stitches and I getting into an argument over an exchange of goods. And then Mathilda shows up and beats the absolute stuffing out of Stitches! I like that ending. That’s a good ending. I mean, it’s hard to top that, but let’s see what kind of story Bailey Day made next!

Bailey’s next project was a wedding drama. Henry, Sprinkle, and Bubbles star this time. Henry confesses his love to Sprinkle and they are arranged to get married. However, on their wedding day, Bubbles crashes the party, believing that Henry was deserving of her love, not Sprinkle’s. The two brawl it out, and that’s pretty much where it ends. Bailey tops the story off with a cliffhanger: “To be continued. . .” Will she ever continue the story? Probably not. But if that’s so, we’ll never get to know who Henry ultimately ends up with. That stings a little, doesn’t it?

Her next story is much more fun. Who doesn’t enjoy a good murder mystery? And not just any murder mystery! We’re talking CLUE, people! Starring: Henry as Mr. Green, Gaston the stubborn rabbit as Colonel Mustard, Stitches as Professor Plum, Olivia the aristocratic cat as Ms. Scarlet, Sprinkle as Mrs. Peacock, Shari as Mrs. White, and me as the host! (. . . oh. . .) But the main featured actor of this story is none other than Rex, as the absent-minded detective who does his best to solve this murder! This is probably my favorite story out of all the ones Bailey Day has conjured up; it reads like a children’s book, and you’ll never see that twist coming at the end.

And now for Bailey’s final, and greatest Animal Crossing tale yet. Her magnum opus! Inspired by such secret agent thrillers as Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and set in the world of Animal Crossing comes Bellfinger. Watch as the man of mystery, Agent C, stops the evil crime lord Boots from stealing all the turnips in the world! He’ll need to be swift, cunning, and be careful who he trusts on this most daring of missions. Can Agent C overcome the odds and save the world’s economy from utter collapse? Find out in (pause for dramatic effect) BELLFINGER. Starring: myself as Agent C, Fang the grumpy, old wolf as Agent F, Mathilda as M, Henry as The Frog, Olivia as herself, and Boots the buff alligator as Boots!

I don’t know where Bailey Day comes up with this stuff, but each and every idea she has is a goldmine that should be treasured. Never stop telling stories Bailey Day.

It’s getting late. . . why don’t we explore Bailey Day’s house before we wrap things up. She hasn’t quite fully paid off her debt to Tom Nook, but she’s satisfied a good portion of it, so her house is vastly more impressive compared to our other villager’s houses.

Wow! That’s a nice house! And to think we started out in those tiny, ramshackle tents. We sure have come a long way, haven’t we?
Nice place she’s got. I like all of the posters on the walls.
This must be where the magic happens!
Uh-oh. . .it might be time to make like a refrigerator and RUN!

Phew. . .that was a close call. I could have been burned to a crisp by that giant monster. Note to self: stay out of Bailey Day’s basement.

. . .

It’s been 1 whole year since Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. I think Bailey Day and I would agree that it provided good amounts of stress-relief and comfort during this difficult era the world is going through. Throughout all that time, Hunky-dory has gone through immense changes:

Isabelle, the cute shih tzu secretary of Hunky-dory, tells me that the island has a “5 star rating”, the highest rating your island can get. I must be doing something right.

Tom Nook is rolling in the dough, as he always is, and Timmy and Tommy are still hard at work maintaining Nook’s Cranny.

Blathers is still up there in the museum, sleeping the days away. It’s getting harder to find him new creatures to exhibit.

Henry now has a robotic doppelganger living on the island: Ribbot the robotic frog. He’s got competition. It’s frog vs. machine down here.

Nintendo is consistently updating the game with free DLC (downloadable content) that makes the game even better and more immersive, with even more updates to come throughout 2021.

Rex is still Rex.

. . .

Yep. . .

Everything is hunky-dory down on Hunky-dory.

A map of Hunky-dory, as it stands now.
My passport. For those who own the game and have a Nintendo Switch Online Membership, I encourage you to visit my Dream Island. The address is right there on the passport. And if you want to browse all of the Custom Design’s I’ve made, my Creator ID is on there as well.
Greetings from Hunky-dory!

That’s it from me. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. This is Jorel, telling you to just. . . break away from it all once in a while. Step outside. . . get some fresh air. . . contemplate things. . . it’s nice to be alone with your thoughts sometimes.

Stay healthy.

Jorel signing out.