UNCUT BELLS: The Stress of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

UNCUT BELLS: The Stress of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons seemed to come at the perfect time, with countless gamers picking up copies of the wholesome life simulation game as the world came to terms with a global pandemic.

But whilst the game has been marketed as this peaceful, easygoing experience where you can plant flowers, catch fish, and have your friends over for visits, it also has its fair share of stressful moments.

I’m not trying to suggest that our beloved Animal Crossing is anything like RPGs and FPS games where you combat people or creatures and find yourself constantly on edge about threats, but it has its own unique brand of stress.

Minor inconveniences pop up all over the game, but sometimes they can have a bigger impact on what you’re trying to achieve. Who knew island living could be this stressful?

In this article, I’m going to take a look at some of the most common inconveniences and why they can often present some unexpected challenges for players.

Money & Debt

As we all know, money is an integral part of any society, and it’s no different on this island. In classic Animal Crossing style, you soon find yourself in debt to a raccoon named Tom Nook. 

This becomes an integral part of the game, and if you want to fully expand your house in this game you’ll have to fork out 5,795,800 bells… in this economy?!

Tom Nook is a crafty thing, and he’s always finding new ways to take your money, known as “bells” in this universe. Whether it’s upgrading your home, adding a bridge to cross a river, or just about anything else on the island, he will charge you for it.

You have to earn money honestly in Animal Crossing too, because it would be very unwholesome to rob a bank or use the Grand Theft Auto method of getting paid. There’s no organised crime here.

There’s also no motherlode either, Sims players, so you can’t cheat your way to an eight bedroom, four bathroom mansion. Sorry about that.

One of the wonderful things about this game is that money DOES grow on trees, which means you can grow your own money forest if you’d like. But it takes a while to get to that point; they don’t just spring out of nowhere.

Beyond that, you don’t have a job and are expected to just do things for free on this island. You’re rewarded for your trouble in Nook Miles, which can be exchanged for goods or services, but other than that you need to earn money elsewhere.

This can include selling turnips (the turnip market is booming, don’t you know?), fruit, fish, collectables, and anything you’ve crafted. You get bigger prices for “hot items” too, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those.

Currently, I am 125,940 bells in debt to Tom Nook for my house and I only have two rooms, so that debt is just going to get bigger! Thankfully it’s only fictional though…


I’m sorry to report that evil wasps exist on your Animal Crossing island. What kind of paradise is this?

As mentioned above, using the resources on the island is a good way to earn money and craft items. If you want fruit, tree branches, or wood, you’re going to have to shake and chop some trees.

But if you’re not careful, you’ll disturb a wasp’s nest, which will promptly annoy the residents, and they’ll swarm and attack you, leaving you with a nasty looking sting on your eye.

I mean, I get it, if I was existing peacefully in my nest and some mad woman literally shook me out of it, I’d be a little angry too. But it’s a bit unreasonable to sting me in the face.

Thankfully, medicine exists, but you have to craft it yourself or head to the shop and pick up a bag. A bag costs 400 bells, or you can craft it using a wasp nest (the one you just disturbed!) and some weeds.

You can stockpile medicine as well, which I really recommend doing. You’re never fully prepared for a wasp sting without it.

To add insult to injury (quite literally in fact), if you try to talk to residents after you’ve been stung, they’ll comment on how ugly your face is. Thanks for that mate.

Broken Tools

Catching fish and bugs and digging up fossils is an everyday occurrence, as you can donate these to Blathers at the museum, but your tools aren’t very reliable.

You start off with DIY recipes for “flimsy” tools, which break very quickly and they always seem to break when you need them most. I don’t recommend fishing with your hands.

This is arguably the most minor of all inconveniences, but it’s the most annoying since you can be in the zone stocking up on fish and then suddenly your tool is gone and the fish has swam off. Bye forever!

Thankfully there are plenty of ways to replenish your tools, as they’re available at Nook’s Cranny or available to craft on your own. As you advance in the game, you will also encounter stronger tools, which you will eventually learn the recipes for.

But having tools break on you continues to be annoying, and I’m just thankful the tools I use at home don’t break constantly. Cooking would be a nightmare!

The Passage of Time

A commonly known fact with Animal Crossing is that you can time travel. Not in-game, you’re not The Doctor or anything, but you can adjust the date and time on your console to change it.

This is especially useful if you’re waiting for something, like a house being built or finally having a bridge to help you cross over a river. But this comes with its own set of challenges.

If you skip too far ahead, you’re going to have to deal with loads of weeds for a start, which I’m not going to demonstrate for you because I frankly can’t be bothered to pick them all up.

Your neighbours will also probably shame you for being gone for so long, which is just heartbreaking honestly. Who knew pixels could hit you right in the feels?

But there’s something else. Time travel is a somewhat controversial gaming strategy among Animal Crossing players, because some consider it to be cheating. Don’t worry if you do though, it can be our little secret.

Visiting Other Islands

I know what you’re thinking. How can visiting someone else’s island cause you any stress at all? Isn’t it supposed to be a wholesome experience?

Sure, it’s great, but there’s a couple of reasons to consider here. The first is a lovely thing called Imposter Syndrome, where you find yourself wondering why on earth you’re playing this game when everyone else’s islands look better than yours. 

If you’ve ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Homer attempts to build a BBQ pit and fails miserably, you’ll understand where I’m coming from here. Why doesn’t my island look like that?!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons requires a lot of patience, and it takes awhile to get your island looking the way you want it to. 

You start off in a weed-ridden, deserted island and go from there. Your island will probably look awful for a while, and if you’re like me, that might get on your nerves.

The second is a stable internet connection. You’re going to need that if you want to hang out with your mates, as it requires online play. This isn’t exclusive to Animal Crossing, of course, and gamers everywhere can relate to that one.


Now, island envy brings me nicely to my last inconvenience, which is to do with how your island looks. For some reason you’re responsible for everything, including bridges, houses, stairs, and more.

Tom Nook trusts your judgement on where everything goes on the island, which is a huge responsibility. Sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan either.

The placement of objects can be an absolute nightmare, and things don’t seem to line up how you imagined. Cue every perfectionist ever immediately wanting to rage quit over this.

Here’s an example. I hate what I’ve done with a certain set of stairs and the flowers around it aren’t quite symmetrical, but I’m just learning to live with it honestly.

Things can be moved if you hate what you’ve done, but hey guess what? Tom Nook will charge you for the privilege—no surprises there then!

Please don’t confuse any of this with me hating the game, because I don’t. I’ve very quickly fallen in love with Animal Crossing: New Horizons and largely agree with Siobhan’s review, which you can read here.

But it’s pretty hilarious just how much can frustrate you when you’re just trying to chill on your little island paradise. I have a feeling I’ll encounter even more as well.

If you need me, I’ll be working hard over on Ruby Cove. Come visit sometime!

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