Wednesday, April 22nd was my birthday. As if it weren’t enough that there’s a pandemic on and no one is going out to celebrate for any reason, I’m also in my late twenties, so birthdays haven’t been a big deal for a long time. However, as with all holidays in Animal Crossing, your birthday is a big deal to your neighbors and in New Horizons, it’s a bigger deal than ever. In New Leaf, you’d be treated to a party where a few villagers would set up a cake and give you a present. It was very sweet, but nothing compared to the festivities in store in the franchise’s latest entry.
I loaded up the game and listened to Isabelle’s morning announcements which included a birthday shoutout dedicated to yours truly. I figured there would be a party similar to New Leaf in store, but I was unprepared for Biff to be waiting outside my home right after Isabelle’s morning report. I should’ve known. You can’t spell Biff without “bff,” so of course he would be waiting to ensure there was no delay in the celebrations. Next, he whisked me away to his home where Audie and Diva were waiting with streamers hung and birthday candles lit. They were all decked out in their finest for the occasion and fired off party poppers as I blew out candles.
I assumed I’d then get a present and that’d be the end of it, as it was in New Leaf, but the surprises didn’t end there! I was then treated to a piñata which I THWACKED at as my friends whooped and hollered. Instead of candy, little cupcakes burst out of the shattered paper-mâché. Biff dropped a hint about sharing them with my friends and I was then free to hang out with him and the girls as long as I liked. They whistled the town tune and said lots of very nice things about me and celebrating my birthday that absolutely had me thinking, “Am I getting emotional about virtual babbling animals again?”
After the party, I began my usual rounds around the island, digging up fossils and greeting my neighbors. In the New Horizons style of going all out for holidays, most of my neighbors who didn’t attend my party still wished me a Happy Birthday, and a couple even gave me a present! Following Biff’s hint, I started offering the cupcakes from my party to my neighbors and some gave me yet another gift in exchange, along with a line about feeling awkward that they were getting something on my birthday. The few villagers who didn’t share birthday regards approached me the following day, expressing that they’re always late on birthday wishes, but hoped I had a great day.
When I reached Resident Services in my rounds, I noticed K.K. Slider was in town. It wouldn’t be the first time he appeared on a different day than his usual Saturday gig, so I didn’t think too deeply on why he was there on a Wednesday when the only reason he moved his concert before was to avoid sharing space with C.J. during the fishing tourney. I should’ve known that he’d be there to sing Animal Crossing’s rendition of a birthday song. What’s more, instead of credits scrolling up the screen during the show, I was treated to birthday messages written by my neighbors and even a couple from shopkeepers like Mabel and Tommy Nook.
It all felt really nice. Of course, these animals are programmed pixels from pieces of code and data, all of which is engineered to make you feel as special as possible, but it really did give my birthday a sparkle it hasn’t had for many years. Even if I was thanking my animal friends at the moment, it really is the developers at Nintendo and the localization team at Nintendo Treehouse who have earned my thanks for reaching me through babbling animals and saccharine birthday wishes. This year in particular, my birthday felt completely inconsequential and even if I’m past the time in my life where I want cake and streamers and all that mess, being treated to a big celebration on the island brought me back to a time where birthdays were of major consequence and well worth celebrating. Thanks, Nintendo.
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