Animal Crossing : New Horizons has become the world’s coping mechanism of choice amid the COVID-19 quarantine, and it’s become a hotbed for everyone’s frustrations. Just take a quick glance at Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of angry tweets about ugly problem villagers and furtive questions on how to remove them.
Nintendo knows this, and that’s why they made the wolf one of the rarest villager species in the original Game cube game. As a Southerner, I’ve always felt sympathy for the most elegant and tragic species on the planet, and remember my mom skipping the VHS right before Bambi’s mom dies, so she wouldn’t have to deal with my wailing.
The game does the species justice, and contains some of my absolute favorite villagers in the whole series, with decent variety despite a pretty small pool to choose from. The rarest of all villagers are completely worth it, and they’ve been with us since the genesis of the franchise.
They may not push the design sense to its utmost reaches, but I bet you’re happy every time you encounter one of these striped friends. There’s a cat for everyone, and several (like Bob, Rosie, and more recently Raymond) have become quite popular in the Animal Crossing fandom.
Still, their upright, twitching ears and short stature make them a favorite for many, and even the odd, mature looking rabbits elicit a laugh from me. There’s something charming about the barrenness of Coco, a progenitor of over half of Animal Crossing ’s creepy pasta fare, and Snake and Tiffany are hilariously strange.
Nevertheless, the ostriches (or just “big birds” if you prefer) have an interesting silhouette and bright, fun coloring that earns their rightful place in the top ten of Animal Crossing species, which, honestly, they probably wouldn’t have received if every one of their representatives was actually an ostrich. The shape of the bird villagers may limit the breadth to mostly songbirds, but nearly all the ones available are adorable in a plucky (or Becky) sort of way.
Animal Crossing might not be quite to the point of introducing non-binary villagers (though allowing players to Switch between male and female is a big step), but many of the birds are almost indiscernible when it comes to everyone’s least favorite social construct. Good on the Animal Crossing designers to make me love an animal that I feel pretty neutral about in real life.
They’re pleasant with an elegant design and are some only villagers taller than your player character, making them unique and helping to diversify the overall demographic of your island. You’ll find yourself wishing you could just be friends with Margie and Tia in real life.
These hulking teddy bears are very cute, even when they’re a little gruff, with Pinky and Chow rounding out the list as pandas. This video of the penguins of the Two Oceans Aquarium hopping downstairs has warmed my heart and kept me cooing during the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine.
From the cranky emperor Hopper to the classic roundness and vacant eyes of Roald and Cube, the penguins are among the most huggable and Dewey of the villagers and put a smile on my face every time. Despite not having my favorite silhouette and at times being rather difficult to read visually, the horses have some fun looks and are rather distinct given how their designs play with different eye shapes and placements, different hairstyles, and the oh-so-popular unicorn villager Julian.
I’m also a sucker for the ‘80s should princely look Colton sports, and Savannah is a very lovable zebra. The horses manage to transcend their odd shape to be a well-rounded cast of islanders.
The eagles also sport some fun coloring like the pelican-esque Frank and the fluorescent blue Keaton. It’s a good shape, but it’s a rare instance when the constraints of the game feel rather limiting in what they’re able to portray.
Still, Goldie has managed to become an iconic villager, and the punk queen Cherry and the mummified Lucky keep the designs feeling fresh. I’m not mad about the dogs themselves, they just raise some noticeable flaws in the way the villagers are rendered.
Sydney and Lyman are quite cute, and Eugene is a lovable misfit, but the koalas underwhelm. They’re certainly not offensive, but given their real world counterparts just chill and eat eucalyptus all day, I suppose we can’t expect too much excitement from them.
Seeing a kangaroo for the first time is certainly novel, given all the females come coupled with a joey in their pouch that mimic all of their mother’s expressions. They don’t have enough gems to solidify themselves as one of the true Animal Crossing greats, and none of the anteaters have breached into legend status, but I love that Annalisa’s found a home on my island and Olaf is a bit of a delightful jerk.
Already a humdrum animal, little effort was made in making these clickers distinct or lovable. With squared off heads and an overall dorky vibe, the bulls are largely unremarkable unless you’re looking to imbue some masculine thick-headedness on your island.
There’s almost nothing to say about the goats, so instead, I’ll explain why they completely fail on a mathematical level. Perhaps it’s because their proportions can’t be accurately captured in the tiny style of Animal Crossing, so their shirts look like they’re bursting at the seams and their shoulders appear stiffly broad.
I have a fond memory of starting New Leaf with Violet and absolutely hating her, but she gave me clothing almost every day and always gossiped with me about my fellow villagers. It’s not that I expect all of them to exude serious attitudes, but not one capturing that makes me feel nothing but contempt for professional vacationer Bud and substitute teacher Mott.
It might be my actual, real life ranidaphobia speaking, but the warty texture on Wart Jr. and realistic spotting on Robert makes my skin crawl in all the worst ways. Porter, the train station attendant present in every game up until New Horizons, was the sole representation of the typically cute monkey.
There is not one saving grace among the relatively small pool of simians other than, maybe, Nana, and I’d wager she’s no one’s favorite villager of all time (sorry if she is!). Lumpy-headed and rendered with some nightmarish faces, the monkeys play 35th banana for the worst villager species to date.