You can only have one Animal Crossing: New Horizons island per Nintendo Switch system

1 year ago 300 Comments

In an unfortunate piece of bad news, life is going to be a lot harder in Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Animal Crossing fans who have come accustomed to owning and playing multiple towns.

During a recent interview with IGN, Animal Crossing developer Aya Kyogoku revealed that up to eight players can live together on a single New Horizons island, using the eight playable accounts on a Nintendo Switch system. Furthermore, it was said that you cannot have multiple islands.

Here’s the relevant excerpt from IGN:

Then, when it comes to online and local wireless, up to eight players can be on an island. This is doubled from New Leaf’s previous 4-player limit. And though there is a travel theme to New Horizons, Kyogoku confirmed you can’t set up a tent on a friend’s island. However, Kyogoku told IGN you can make up to eight playable accounts on one Nintendo Switch and they will be able to live on the same island. You cannot have multiple islands, however.

The restriction of only one island might not seem any different from Animal Crossing: New Leaf on its surface, but key differences in how the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch systems handle saving are important to understand the issue here.

On the Nintendo 3DS, a physical copy of a game like New Leaf stores its save file on the game cart itself, allowing the cart to be moved between systems or swapped out with a different New Leaf cartridge for a different town. But with the Nintendo Switch, every game’s save file is only stored locally on the system’s internal storage, not the game cart.

What this means in practice is that your island or town is tied to your system — you can’t simply remove one New Horizons game cart and pop in another for a completely separate new save file!

Simply purchasing a new game cart to start a new town will be strategy of the past. In the Animal Crossing series’s history, the only game to operate in this manner was Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii.

Especially with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the most active players in the community have become very familiar with the option to own and operate multiple towns, whether for villager cycling purposes or just pleasure. It’s potentially going to be a rough adjustment for many players and we certainly hope Nintendo will reconsider.

Despite the differences with the Nintendo Switch, this could be solved by treating every user profile on the system as a separate save file — something that many other Nintendo Switch games already do. Animal Crossing: New Horizons appears to be treating all user profiles as one giant save file with different characters on the same island instead.

We certainly hope Nintendo will reconsider and make a change! The only issue with that solution would be the oddity of selecting the island owner’s profile in order to log in to their island and not your own personal profile, assuming you want to share an island with someone as Nintendo has clearly designed the game around.

Pre-orders are now open for Animal Crossing: New Horizons at AmazonGameStop, and Best Buy. Stay tuned to Animal Crossing World for more on Animal Crossing: New Horizons as we approach the release date next year.

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