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How to time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the game we all needed this year. It throws you into a world of full of personality and practically lets you do anything you want — while sticking to a chill tone, making it easy for nearly everyone to enjoy. One of its quirks is that it follows a real-time in-game clock, meaning you have to wait awhile — sometimes days — for things to go into effect. It mirrors your local time, so if it’s 10 a.m. where you live, it’ll be 10 a.m. in the game. But some players like to reap the game’s rewards instantly and opt to skip the waiting.

How? By time traveling, which consists of changing your system’s internal clock to manipulate it in-game. It’s somewhat of a controversial practice, with some thinking it takes the fun out of the game, while others use it each play session. We’re not here to debate the ethics of time travel in New Horizons, though. In this guide, we’ll show you how to time travel, why it could benefit you, and some tips to make it go more smoothly.

Further reading:

Why should you time travel?

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In New Horizons, it’s not necessary to time travel. Most players get through the game the way it was intended — by waiting in real time for changes to take place. But some argue it’s much more gratifying to get things right away. Or maybe your work schedule only allows you to play at night, after the game’s stores are closed. With time travel, these worries are gone in a flash, letting you take control of the game’s clock.

You can use time travel for almost anything. Perhaps you’re waiting for a villager to request to leave your island. You can speed this process up by skipping to a new day, as you check into the game to see if the villager is ready to leave. Time traveling can also allow you to change the date to a Sunday, which is when Daisy Mae sells turnips — giving you a way to get rich quickly by taking advantage of the game’s stalk market.

Other players simply use it to skip from day to day to quickly boost their furniture and clothing selection, since stores often have new items each day. There are also certain fish that only spawn during specific times of year, like the Pond Smelt, which is only available between December and February. Time travel will also speed up the growth of flowers and trees.

There are numerous reasons to time travel, but the main idea is that it speeds up nearly every process in-game. The nice thing is that you can always change it back to current time, if need be. You’ll have to do this in order to take part in seasonal events, since these require you to be connected to the internet.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether you should time travel. There is something to be said about the excitement of checking in each day to see what new changes have taken place within New Horizons, but ultimately, you should play how you want. Do keep in mind, there are some downsides to time traveling, like breaking your Nook Miles bonus streak at the Nook Stop, and your island will quickly start becoming overrun with weeds (though, you can sell them for a small profit). One of the biggest downsides is that your turnips can rot if you go backward in time, rendering them useless when attempting to sell. At the end of the day, though, whether or not you time travel is up to you, and either option is fine — so long as you’re having fun with the game.

How to time travel

So you’ve decided you want to time travel. Great! Below, we’ll go through all the steps you’ll need to change the system’s clock, which manipulates the time in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Unlike previous entries, there is no way to change the time in-game — instead, you can only alter it from within the system settings.

Step 1 — Go into settings

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Close out of your game and make sure you have a sense of how long you’d like to skip ahead. Whether it’s a day, three days, or a week, keep the time frame in mind. From the system’s main screen, scroll over or tap on the gear icon on the bottom right (to the left of the power icon), to enter the settings menu.

Step 2 — Open the system settings menu

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From here, scroll all the way down to System, which has a list of options you can change, like the language, region, and time.

Step 3 — Click on Date and Time

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Since we’re time traveling, you’ll want to click on Date and Time to alter the system’s clock. Before you can start messing with the time, you have to turn off the ability to synchronize the clock via the internet. If this setting is on, the system will always check the internet to verify the time, thus making you unable to change it manually. Turn this setting off.

Step 4 — Change the time

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At this point, you can change the date and time to whatever you please. Just make sure you hit OK when you’re finished to save the settings. What’s really cool about this is that you can even head backward in time!

Step 5 — Jump back into the game

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Now you can jump back into the game and it will mirror the time settings of the system’s internal clock. You can still play online with others, even if your system doesn’t sync with the internet to verify the time. When you’re ready to change the time back, or ahead to a later date, simply repeat the steps from above to alter the system’s clock.

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Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for…
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