Animal Crossing: New Horizons players who turned on their Switch over this past weekend likely noticed C.J. setting up a little fish themed booth in front of Resident Services. This marks the first fishing tournament to come to the game since launch and a number of changes differentiate it from the tourney run by Chip in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Though C.J. is much more focused on streaming than his likely predecessor, that doesn’t mean he’ll let traditions like the Fishing Tourney get washed away with the changing times.
In New Leaf, the Fishing Tourney relied much more on randomness. Essentially, you would present Chip with a fish you caught–depending on the month, he would specify which fish were eligible–and he’d assign a point value and give you a prize based on how well your fish scored. Above a certain point value, you’d get an item from a special Fish Set of furniture (which I loved). If your highest scoring fish remained in 1st place and wasn’t dethroned by one of your neighbors by the end of the Tourney at 6pm, you’d be presented with a special trophy at the Tourney’s award ceremony.
This system relied heavily on randomness as you couldn’t predict if one of your neighbors would turn in a higher scoring fish than your best catch of the day. You also had no way of knowing how a fish would score before turning it in, which could often lead to a lot of wasted time if you only found low scoring fish. What’s more, to get Fish Set items, you had to continuously break the current 1st place record. This meant that to finish out the collection, you had to either consistently luck out and catch high scoring fish, or keep notes on your fish’s size to present them in a specific order throughout the day to avoid setting a record too high, too soon. All the while, a neighboring villager might also break your record with a fish that doesn’t fit into your equation.
Meanwhile C.J.’s Fishing Tourney eliminates all the guesswork. You talk to C.J., he throws three minutes on the clock, you catch as many fish as you can, he gives you a point for each fish, plus two extra points if you catch three or more, you cash in points for prizes. You need at least ten points for a prize, but you always get a random Tourney themed item and even without the use of bait, I was pulling in six to eight points per round. Each round of the Tourney after your free first round costs 500 bells, but C.J. also buys whatever fish you catch at a premium rate, so the contest pays for itself. If you manage to accumulate 100, 200, or 300 points across your rounds of fishing, the following day you’ll receive a bronze, silver, or gold trophy respectively.
I love the changes made to the Fishing Tourney. Having to continuously keep up with the Tourney all day in New Leaf was a pain and I much prefer being able to participate on my own terms. The Tourney still runs from 9am to 6pm, but besides that generous window of time, I feel like I’m able to earn prizes at my own pace. If you’re more prepared than I was and stock up on fish bait beforehand, you can easily net 11 to 13 points in a round and earn a gold trophy in an hour or so as a result.
My favorite detail about the new fishing tourney is how C.J. doesn’t gobble up each fish you turn in before your eyes and burp in your face like Chip did. What he does with the fish for his livestreams, however, remains a mystery. Seafood mukbangs?
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