I know what I said about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. “Take things easy,” I said. “Don’t let FOMO ruin the game for you,” I said. But last night, I failed to follow my own advice. My mad dash to round up cherry blossom recipes turned me into a ravenous monster, unable to appreciate the virtual world around me.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a more subtle Animal Crossing seasonal event happening alongside the Bunny Day festivities. Several of the trees on Northern Hemisphere islands have been sporting a fresh new look thanks to the blooming of the cherry blossoms. These pink petals can be collected to craft several DIY projects, many of which can only be learned through random recipe drops.
I have an obsessive personality—if there’s something to collect, especially if it’s randomized, like trading cards or in-game cosmetics, I feel compelled to get as many as possible. This is exacerbated when the collectibles are only available for a limited time. Rumblings in the Animal Crossing community suggest the end of the cherry blossom event is today, April 10, though Nintendo has yet to respond to Kotaku’s requests for confirmation. Even without knowing for sure, I felt like I was staring down a deadline when I hopped into Animal Crossing last night.
The most consistent way to find cherry blossom recipes is through balloons, the appearance of which feels random at first. That said, balloons are actually tied to a very specific schedule, one that players can influence with a few easy steps. By speaking with Timmy and Tommy in Nook’s Cranny about what they have on sale in a certain timeframe, players can force balloons to spawn at times that end in four and nine, according to an informative Twitter thread by former IGN writer Carolyn McDowell.
I started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons around 8 pm last night, implementing McDowell’s strategy as soon as I finished up some basic chores and quickly finding success. Balloons, which before seemed chaotic, now arrived from the eastern horizon at a regular pace. My play session became a routine of popping into Nook’s Cranny, asking Timmy and Tommy about a revolving spice rack they were offering for 1,400 Bells (a little steep, quite frankly), and heading outside to await the next balloon on the beach. I even mixed in some cherry blossom hunting while I waited, though this seemed to prevent balloons from spawning from time to time.
Everything became a blur. I didn’t have time for anything but the strict schedule of balloon spawns and the frantic scooping up of cherry blossoms. No, Timmy and Tommy, I don’t want to see the revolving spice rack. You are just tools in a game you can’t even begin to comprehend. Villagers, once friends, became obstacles. They were excited to see me, but I quit out of the conversation as soon as I realized they weren’t going to give me a cherry blossom recipe. After the shop closed, I shifted to a backup balloon-spawning tactic of asking museum curator Blathers to teach me about one of his attractions before cruelly canceling and heading back to the beach without a word. I caught my reflection in the river at one point and didn’t even recognize myself.
Three hours later, my grim task was finally complete. Every item, from the simple cherry blossom pile to the beautiful sakura-wood walls, was logged snugly in my recipe book. I crafted everything, each little check mark denoting an item’s completion giving me a sick sense of satisfaction. I renovated one of my spare rooms with the various cherry blossom decorations, saving some of the more striking pieces for the main room. I took photos and shared them on Twitter. My character’s eyes, still so full of hope and wonder, hid my true feelings.
I am a monster, and I hope to the Animal Crossing gods my friends on Aurora Island can forgive me.