What is it with cute video games and guilt trips? Ever since my first digital puppy (in Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS) turned her back on me after a few weeks of neglect, I’ve fallen prey to doe-eyed animals making me feel bad for choosing to play something else.
Animal Crossing games have a long history of guilting players, of course. Return to your home after a few weeks, months, or years away, and you’re liable to get dragged for being gone for so long. Despite the long life of my Nintendo 3DS, I never once returned to New Leaf after six months idle, afraid of how previously treasured pals Curt, Sylvia and Rosie would react. Sure, I can logically tell myself these are pre-preprogrammed lines spat out by fake animals, but they still somehow sting — especially if I realistically only pop in once every few months after the initial gluttonous gameplay period. The inevitable guilt trips mean I’ll likely never come back.
But, of course, now Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s is getting a massive, free update, and despite not visiting my lovely Piña Isle for over a year, I dove back in last week. (As did a lot of other Polygon staff.) Were my villagers ready to guilt trip me? Boy howdy. But I endured it, and then it was over.
If you’re faced with the same squeamish feelings upon having to face your island’s residents, you’re not alone! Consider this a warm-up round, to help ease your conscience. Here’s how some of our villagers greeted us after months (or more than a year!) away.
Plenty of characters refused to believe we were real. Ghosts, mirages, a different person with the same name....
Some villagers just wanted us to really feel it.
They also just pretended to forget who we were.
Sprinkle deserves an Academy Award for this performance.
This is a little confusing, since Zucker is one of the few characters who is dressed as a food.
And then there are the villagers who disguise their hurt with sarcasm. I see you, Leopold.
A totally normal comment here...
Unfortunately, I think Beau has figured out we’re all living in a simulation.
Oof, that was a lot. But hopefully it has made going back a little easier.
Thanks to Nicole Clark, Nicole Carpenter, and Emily Heller for their contributions to this story.