The smooth island grooves of Animal Crossing: New Horizons are among the game’s many unexpected pleasures, and Nintendo knows it.
On Friday, as the pandemic-stricken world dazedly welcomed the arrival of another weekend in lockdown, the official home of Animal Crossing on Twitter offered up a treat. The musicians behind the game’s soundtrack gathered together for a lovely, socially distanced rendition of the New Horizons theme.
(For those who have been spending far too much time in their virtual island paradise, K.K. Slider the rock star dog is not a real being. Sorry.)
The performance features Eric Miyashiro on flugelhorn, Tetsuro Toyama on acoustic guitar and ukelele, Mataro on percussion, Takashi Ebinuma on double bass, and Saburo Tanooka on accordion. The New Horizons main theme, and indeed all of the music in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series, comes from composer Kazumi Totaka.
The latest game in the series, also the first released for Nintendo Switch, arrived in the United States on March 20. That was right around the time Americans belatedly started coming to grips with the scope of what is now recognized as a global pandemic.
New Horizons caught on quickly in those early days, offering players a brightly colored escape to a blissful island paradise of their very own. Animal Crossing is a low-intensity game of living the quiet life. You build a house, set up your own farm, go fishing, visit friends, and generally just chill out. Simple pleasures like these are especially resonant at a time when all of us are (or really should be) keeping our distance from the populated world.
The music fits the experience because of Totaka, who has a deep understanding of the series after having worked on it for so long.
“Animal Crossing is meant to be ordinary,” Totaka said in a recent Washington Post interview. “It presents a mostly regular, everyday world. That’s why I try to call to mind the actual experiences you find during everyday life, and the more inconsequential thoughts and feelings that come up in ordinary, nondramatic daily life.”