Things have been very, very quiet on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons front since the game's hefty Version 2.0 update landed in November 2021, leaving many fans lamenting the fact that one of the biggest and best games of 2020 received barely 18 months' active support from Nintendo. Despite rarely dropping off of the eShop's bestseller list from month to month, and having its lifespan further extended by a steady drip-feed of tie-in merchandise, it seemed like Nintendo weren't too keen to talk directly about AC:NH any more.
But then earlier this week, Nintendo announced a pair of new Animal Crossing themed special edition Switch Lite bundles for their Christmas 2023 lineup.
New #NintendoSwitch console bundles are on the way!— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) September 5, 2023
You can pick up the #NintendoSwitch Sports bundle or one of two #AnimalCrossingNewHorizons Nintendo Switch Lite bundles from 20/10. pic.twitter.com/QYFqCpsX5T
If you're across the pond you can pick up the turquoise Timmy & Tommy's Aloha Edition from Walmart or the coral Isabelle's Aloha Edition from Target, which go on sale from October 6th. They'll land in the UK slightly later, on October 20th, with no mention of store exclusivity just yet. Both bundles include an exclusive variant Switch Lite with Nook Inc. logo detailing on the casing, plus a digital copy of the game.
Funnily enough though, it's yesterday's addition of an exclusive Animal Crossing coaster set to the list of My Nintendo Store rewards available in the UK that's triggered a flurry of speculation, to wit that some kind of AC:NH game news my be on the, um, horizon (sorry):
The Animal Crossing Coaster Set is now available!— My Nintendo Store UK (@NintendoStoreUK) September 6, 2023
Bring home a sip of island life with this four-pack coaster set inspired by the café owned by the composed Brewster, the Roost, featured in Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch.
🇬🇧: https://t.co/woUdIVQUZy pic.twitter.com/yrBCV8Yg7K
While I'm still battling through a Kafkaesque attempt to make a My Nintendo Store order from several months ago actually materialise in my possession, those coasters have me foolishly tempted to dip back in, I won't lie. Who doesn't want to make their coffee table feel like The Roost? All you need is Brewster offering you some pigeon milk with that and it'd be like you were really there!
As for whether all this new official merch means that we'll hear some surprise Animal Crossing news from Nintendo Direct later this month… well, I'm afraid that they've made it fairly clear in the past that AC:NH is done and dusted as far as the game itself goes. The release earlier this year of a fancy collector's edition hardback complete guide seems to have put the nail in that particular coffin. But still, it's nice to see New Horizons still getting some love from the official channels, and truly we won't know for sure until this month's Direct has been and gone. Faint hope is always worth tuning in for, right?