The other day, I saw a tweet that joked that 4 a.m. was the new 1 a.m. With folks staying indoors, and anxieties piling high, it seems that nearly everyone I know is having trouble sleeping lately. And while Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be the latest sensation, playing the life simulator at night is a vastly different experience.
At night in Animal Crossing, things slow down. Shops close, and villagers go to sleep — well, most villagers. On my island, I can always count on two villagers to be awake no matter what time it is: Shari, the cheerful monkey, and Raymond the snobby cat.
By the end of the day, I’ve already spoken to both of these characters a million times; they’ve run out of things to say to me. They’ll joke that we keep running into each other, or that they need to get a publicist. So mostly, I just watch them go about their business without me.
Raymond likes to water the plants outside of my town hall. Sometimes, he just stands in the middle of the tulips and looks up at the moon. Once, I caught him plopped down in the middle of a bridge at 2 a.m. I pulled out my in-game camera app and zoomed in on his face as my character stepped out of the frame. It’s remarkable how many expressions Animal Crossing characters have. Raymond would sigh, close his eyes, frown. Maybe he didn’t need to say anything to me, after all.
Shari the monkey is more of a mystery to me. Often I’ll catch her drinking “vacation juice” by the beach, looking out to the water. It worries me that she’s drinking alone so late at night. But she also looks peaceful, and who am I to say what’s appropriate right now? The other night, I was eating ice cream at 3 a.m. We take our pleasures where we can.
Mostly, though, Shari makes me laugh. Once, I caught her in the rain, standing in the plaza, busting it to “K.K. Ska” at 2 a.m. She kept going for like an hour. I didn’t ask why, because really, who hasn’t been there before?
Actually, Shari loves to belt it at night, when nobody can hear her. She doesn’t even need music; I’ve caught her singing to herself under a cherry blossom tree with no music player in sight. Maybe it calms her down to sing. That’s how I’m interpreting it, anyway.
Mostly, it’s these two that I see in the twilight hours, but sometimes I catch other folks, too. Yesterday, Pango the anteater was in her PJs outside her house. She told me that she couldn’t sleep, so she was doing some laps around her house. I recently also got a couple of new villagers, though it’s too early for me to know what their schedules are like. I’m already having fun bothering them at night, though.
Being a night owl in Animal Crossing used to have downsides in earlier installments, but recently, I’ve been enjoying it. Maybe I’ll catch a shooting star. Maybe I’ll see Wisp the ghost, afraid out of his mind, yet always carrying the goods. Mostly, though, it’s about watching my villagers out on their own, doing whatever they want, without any of my input, in the middle of the night. That’s what I love the most — somehow, it makes me feel closer to them.
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