New Horizons music

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a great soundtrack, with fun instrumentation, lush harmonies, and dozens of clever variations on its main theme. Similar to many JRPGs, though, its breadth often feels narrow because you spend so much time hearing the same few pieces. This is especially true if you tend to play at the same time each day, since its background music is synced with the real-world clock.

There’s lots of good music buried in there, though. I especially like the numbers that play during special events. For example, you can hear these two tracks during the fishing and bug-catching tournaments, or this one during summer evening fireworks, or this one on “Turkey Day”—all good tunes, but also all easily missed unless you maintained an Animal Crossing habit all year.

The New Year’s Eve event last night had the most new music of any event so far. There was a special track that started playing at 11:00 PM, then a new one at 11:30 PM, then another new one at 11:50 PM, and then another new one at 11:55 PM. After a countdown stinger leading up to the big moment, there was special celebration music that played as the year changed over and the animal villagers celebrated. (I love the big band vibe they went with here—reminiscent of the Super Mario Odyssey soundtrack.) If you stuck around late, there was even a 2 AM theme as the party wrapped up. And there’s a sleepy New Year’s Day song for today, too.

That’s half a dozen tracks exclusive to a single event—an event that most players likely didn’t even engage with, even with the pandemic scuttling their real-world plans. What could summarize Animal Crossing better than a special song that can only be heard if you play at two in the morning on New Year’s Day?