There’s this thing that happens every day now, as I’m going through my social media timeline. It’s completely involuntary. There I’ll be, minding my own business, when I see him.
It’s Dom from Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Someone has drawn him, and while the art style might vary from person to person, there’s one thing you can count on. Dom is almost always frowning, maybe on the verge of tears.
I see him, and I frown, too. I can’t help it. It’s not a sad emotion per se — maybe more protective. I want to scoop Dom up like a baby and tell him everything is gonna be OK. My beautiful baby boy!
Dom, for those who don’t know, is a new villager who was introduced in Pocket Camp, but New Horizons is the first mainline game in the life simulator series to welcome him to the roster. His whole thing is that he likes to work out while wearing a tie-dye shirt. I should probably mention at this point that I, personally, do not have Dom on my village. But it doesn’t matter, as I would still go to prison for Dom.
Like other newbie cast members, Dom the sheep can’t be imported into the game via amiibo, which makes him a slightly more rare commodity. It’s nowhere on the level of, say, Raymond — Dom can be a starting villager, because he’s a jock. But there is some demand for Dom, and it largely comes down to the A+ design. Somehow, even when Dom is happy, his brow is always furrowed. It’s adorable, and hard to resist.
But really, what sets Dom apart are his enormous eyes. He is the living embodiment of the emoji, which might explain why it feels like this pleading cherub is ruining me with his mere existence. Who could say no? A monster, that’s who. The timing couldn’t have been better for Dom in this respect, as the pleading face is fast becoming one of the most-used emoji online.
All of which to say, I’m really enjoying seeing Dom’s fandom celebrate the brightly-colored sheep and his gigantean eyes — I’m living vicariously through all the screenshots and artwork people are sharing on social media.
When he was finally found, the sheep was unrecognizable. “He looked like some biblical creature,” said Villager. pic.twitter.com/CDEP0teYMa— Sapphire (@gomipomi) May 9, 2020
More broadly, the slate of new characters speaks to Nintendo’s superb design sensibilities in modern Animal Crossing games. Where there are plenty of older characters with baffling color palettes or unflattering characteristics, newbies like Raymond, Audie, Dom, and Judy seem scientifically engineered to get a visceral reaction out of players. You want these characters — if not in your village, then at least you want them close enough that you can pinch their grubby little cheeks.
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