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Animal Crossing New Horizons: how to time travel to cheat, and what's at risk if you do

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is in keeping with long-held series traditions in that it's all about the passage of real-world time - but the impatient islanders can time travel as a cheat, if you're so inclined. Maybe you missed your bestie's birthday, forgot about a special event, or just didn't have time to play for a week. Here's what can happen if you choose to time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons too.

The world of Animal Crossing has always been built around the idea that it runs in real-time, right alongside the real world. There's no sped-up video game day-to-night cycles here - a minute in the real world is a minute in Animal Crossing, too. A day, likewise. Characters have birthdays to celebrate on certain dates, and the game's wide selection of wildlife detailed on our fish list and bug list change - so in a few days at the end of the March a bunch of fish and bugs will disappear until later in the year.

There is a way around this, however - you can time travel, but it comes at a cost. Time Travel isn't built into Animal Crossing New Horizons - it requires manipulating the game and technically counts as cheating. No TARDIS or DeLorean required.

Using time travel will speed up certain things - so it means you'll be able to build new buildings and infrastructure faster, sell turnips more often, harvest fruit to make lots of cash more frequently and even do things like help out Gulliver and rescue Wisp more often, as that'd strictly be once a day - and not every day at that. Even things like your Nook Miles rewards, many of which are delivered the next day, will of course arrive sooner with time travel.

The flip side of time travel is that you actually risk on missing out on some stuff. So you have to weigh that up against what you'll gain...

How to time travel and change the date and time in Animal Crossing New Horizons

We want to be clear: while it can be done, we don't really advocate time travel in Animal Crossing. It is a game designed to be played slowly, little by little, over a very long period of time. Nintendo agrees with this, which is why the game is explicitly designed against it. Special events, like the upcoming Easter event, are delivered via online patch - so if you time travel, you'll miss out on such events.

If you still want to time travel, here's how to do it:

  • Go to your Switch home menu and make sure you close Animal Crossing New Horizons completely. The game must be off.
  • Now go to the Switch system settings using the Cog icon on the home screen. In the settings menu, select 'System'.
  • In the System menu there's an option for the Date and Time; turn off the setting that syncs the clock up with the internet and change the date and time as desired.
  • The next time you boot Animal Crossing New Horizons, it'll be set to the new date. Simple!
  • If you want to reset the date again, remember to close the game before repeating the process

If you want a little more help playing the game legitimately, be sure to check out our Animal Crossing New Horizons guide, which covers pretty much everything you need to know to speed things up without hopping through time.

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