I love Animal Crossing. It’s such a chill game and something you can play at your own pace. You don’t have to deal with irritating players who are constantly mucking up the world or unlocking content way ahead of pace like MMOs; You don’t have this stupid sense of urgency around anything, just do it when it suits you. Animal Crossing is a lot of fun.

That is, until you play it on local multiplayer. Then it becomes a fight.

Here is a list of reasons why Animal Crossing: NH local multi-player is utter trash:

  • Want to pick up stuff you gathered to your own inventory? Nope, sorry, if you’re not the leader of the party, it goes straight to the town’s recycle bin
  • Want to access your inventory? Haha, nope, not unless you’re the leader. The only thing you can do is cycle through your tools
  • Want to go through “gated” content with your friends, like getting a museum or the town store? Nope. Only the player who started the island gets to
  • Want to wander and enjoy the lush scenery alone? Nope, you’re teleported back as soon as you’re sufficiently off-screen
  • Need to check your mail, or do anything with your house/tent? You have to wrest control of the group from the leader

I really wanted to enjoy this game with my family, but I can’t. It just turns into a collection of three frustrated players trying to do different things, but only the leader gets to choose. Everyone else is dragged along for the ride.

This leads everyone, especially myself and my wife getting mad at each other when things aren’t being done or someone wants to do a different task or just focus on improving themselves. You must follow the group and that is that.

The problems are all compounded by the fact you can only have one island per-Switch. That means if you don’t like the way the direction of the island is going, or just want to do your own thing, you can’t start your own. Or, you can, if you buy your own new Switch device.

Now, I feel guilty when I take the Switch with me and get some single player time in. My wife gets mad because I’ve gone ahead and played “selfishly” by improving myself or doing things without the consensus of the group. I don’t enjoy playing with the group because it feels like an exercise in frustration and becomes boring as I watch other people play or am conscripted into a task I don’t want to do.

Combat, town, together, apart? Done seamlessly.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 did local multiplayer infinitely better (and with a smaller team/budget). When you play with other people, if you’re close enough, the screen merges and you all play on one screen. If you move off to go do stuff yourself, no problem, the game boxes you into split screen so you can go do what you want. You can even have combat going in one area while someone is in town making money or getting into other kinds of trouble.

I have to say. After all the hype, the waiting and the build-up. I’m kind of let down. The game is fun, but it’s also frustrating for all the wrong reasons.