Animal Crossing: New Horizons is about luxuriating by a fishing hole or meticulously planning out your town’s layout. That is, unless you’re a speedrunner. While some runners race to pay off their loans to Tom Nook, others are plotting the most efficient way to get K.K. Slider to come to their island and thereby kick off the game’s end credits sequence. Getting the folk dog to show up quickly involves a mixture of time travel and speedy island decorating.
New Horizons “ends” when players are able to coax the famous traveling musician K.K. Slider to show up to their island for a cozy little concert. Reaching that point through normal play is a bit of a process, as constructing your island’s basic infrastructure can take days of real time if you wait for locations like the museum and resident services to be built. After that, it’s a matter of gathering citizens and making your island cool enough to catch K.K.’s attention. That last part sounds daunting to me as a player who isn’t speedrunning the game. My own island has one fountain and my neighbor has an anatomical mannequin in their garden. Would that attract a superstar? Turns out that getting K.K’s attention can be a pretty haphazard process, as some speedruns have shown.
Consider the efforts of speedrunner Kaitlyn “orcastraw” Molinas, who has been cutting down the rush to New Horizons’ credits. Their current world record time is two hours, forty-seven minutes and forty seconds. The speedrun hits beats that players are familiar with: coming to the island, finding housing plots for neighbors, and building essential island services. The trick is figuring out how to spruce up the island as the run progresses. This initially means pulling weeds and planting flowers. K.K arrives at the island when it reaches a three star rating, and so speedrunning the game requires an understanding of what pushes up the score. It takes about 250 invisible “points” to reach three stars. Orcastraw outlines some of the criteria in a Pastebin:
The basic logic is as follows:
- Small non-crafted item: 2 Points(think flower in a vase, or a cardboard box, or a chair)
- Valuable non-crafted item: 3 points(the switch! it’s worth 30k bells)
- Basic crafted item: 3 Points(chairs, stools, birdbaths, anything that doesn’t require a lot of resources)
- Efforted crafted item: 4-5 Points(The apple tv requires 10 apples and gives 4 points, and the crafting table gives FIVE, so think that kinda ballpark)
- Public Works Project-escue items: 7 Points(The light pole gives this many points, and I imagine the other special nook miles-only items give that same amount, it’s a lot)
- Fences affect points also, in a roundabout way, with DECIMALS.
- 50 fences = 20 points, so do the math there? Idk
The final push involves flying to remote islands to invite new citizens while also covering the island in all sorts of items: hay bales, fences, and a wider array of flowers. K.K. likes stuff and if your island has tons of things, he’ll show up in no time.
If there’s a single catch to the run, it’s only that quick progress involves “time travel,” a process where players change their console’s internal clock to skip forward through days of the week in order to avoid waiting for processes that take real life time to complete. Time travel is a somewhat contentious subject among Animal Crossing players, but any potential naysayers are barking up the wrong tree in this case. It’s a speedrun. You gotta do whatever it takes to clear the game quickly. Tossing hay everywhere and blasting through time is fair game.
As someone who is lagging desperately behind all of my friends when it comes to developing my island, it’s really inspiring to see a skilled player blaze a fast path through the game. It’s also nice to know that K.K. Slider isn’t as fussy as I thought he was. I can arrange my island how I’d like without worrying too much about what stuff I’m laying around. Animal Crossing is a chill game, and the speedruns are no different. It’s like watching one feel-good frolic.
Correction, 4:30 PM EST: A previous version of this article mistakenly used incorrect pronouns in reference to Molinas. This has been amended and I gravely regret the error.