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Time travel, often shortened to "TT", is when the player manually changes the time of their game to benefit from seasonal events, bugs, fish, moving villagers out, moving villagers in, upgrading shops, progressing story, etc, in their Animal Crossing series games. It is also used to manipulate the ABD interest where, by the end of each month, a certain percentage is added to the player's Bell amount in their bank accounts.
It is considered a type of cheating by many but it is not known if it is cheating or not, and is controversial among the community. All players who time travel take the risk of their town becoming populated with weeds, downgrading Tom Nook's Store, the likely possibility of villagers moving out, bedheads, interrupting the growth of trees, and, depending on how far they have traveled, rafflesia growing.
Because the games only track real-world time up to the end of a certain year, said year would rollover after December 31. As a result, time travel would also be necessary to reach a year within the clock's range that is identical to the post-limit year, in order to maintain synchronization with the real world.
How to time travel
There are different ways to change the clock time in each console the games were released on. Below addresses how to change the clocks:
In Animal Crossing
To change the time in Animal Crossing there are two options - the Nintendo GameCube clock or the in-game clock. These are accessed through the in-game options. The ideal option is to change the GameCube's internal clock because the in-game clock affects the growth of trees, the way letters are sent, and how the Police Station and Dump restock with items.
In Wild World
Changing the date and time in Wild World is easier than it is in the original Animal Crossing. To change the time in-game, load the game and when at the character select, click the phone and follow the option that goes to the Date and Time settings.
To change the DS time, turn on the DS then touch the screen/press "A". Next, instead of loading Animal Crossing, press the DS icon at the bottom of the touch screen. Click the second menu, the blue one, with the clock and calendar on it. The top button (that resembles a calendar) changes the date, and the right button (that resembles a wall clock) changes the time. Press "B" until the DS says "The system will now shut down," then press "A" to have it turn off. Restart the console, and launch the game again, and the time/date in-game will have changed according to the system time/date.
In City Folk
Like in the original Animal Crossing, there are two options to change the date and time settings for City Folk. The easier option is to change the Nintendo Wii date and time instead of the in-game date and time settings. This is, again, due to the in-game settings affecting bank interest, plants, and trees.
To change the Wii time settings, go to the Wii Menu and click the 'Wii' button at the bottom left of the screen. Once there, go to 'Setup' and find the menu which opens up the Date and Time settings.
To change the time in the title screen menu, pick 'Other things', and then click 'Set date/time' and change the date and time to the date and time that is desired.
In New Leaf
Most advantages and disadvantages from previous installments are present, although if the Beautiful Town Ordinance is in effect, time travel will not affect the environment, thus, weeds will most likely not appear and flowers will not die.
Unlike previous games, time-traveling has fewer negative effects. Turnips will not rot until the player travels past the next Sunday, and turnip patterns will act normally. The player can use the catalog at any time, and stores cannot downgrade or lose stock. Villagers will also call the player a time traveler in this version as one of their rumors.
A negative side effect of time traveling in New Leaf is grass deterioration. Some players may play the span of 2 or more days in one real-time day. Each time the town is loaded, the grass deteriorates more. Thus, time traveling (e.g, loading the game several times in one real-time day) can be a detriment to the town's grass.
In New Horizons
There is no in-game option to change the time in this installment of the Animal Crossing series. When talking with Tom Nook in the game menu to discuss settings, there is no option to change the date or time. Time travelling is not considered cheating by the developers, but the game has a flag which determines if a player has time travelled backwards at any point. The flag does nothing.
To change the time in New Horizons, the player must change the time of the console, which can be done by: Entering Settings, scrolling down to System, selecting Date and Time. It is necessary to turn off "Synchronize Clock via Internet" otherwise it will make changing the time impossible. Once you've done that, select Date and Time, and change the date and time to whatever you feel.
Most disadvantages with time traveling in New Horizons are similar to those in New Leaf. Turnips could rot, some islanders may ask to move, and cockroaches may appear in your home. Weeds will appear more quickly and spread in your island, and the player's mailbox may be filled.
One of the disadvantages exclusive to New Horizons is losing your Nook Stop bonus. Each day, you are given Nook Miles for opening up the Stop, whether it is for Nook Shopping, ABD, or to redeem Nook Miles. By trying to time travel, you can lose your streak and be unable to collect some Nook Miles for opening up the Nook Stop.
The game must be restarted when the player has changed the time, so it is recommended you close the software before you change the time. However, it doesn't appear to affect the game until you restart it anyways.
It is still possible to play online even if the clock is not in sync with the real world. There are no effects if the player does so, and the player's turnips will not rot.
In the 1.6.0 Winter update both Turkey Day and Toy Day are locked events that the player could not travel in advance to. However, after the day has passed the player is able to travel back in time to which the event took place.
The effects of time traveling
As previously mentioned, there are advantages and disadvantages to time traveling. Below are the positive and negative effects on the game:
- Allows the player to attend their favorite events.
- Allows the player to receive mail sooner.
- Allows the player to receive bank interest.
- New villagers will move in sooner.
- Fruit will grow on trees sooner.
- Different items available at all stores.
- Ability to catch out-of-season fish and bugs.
- Fast-forward through renovations.
- Grass will regrow. (Grass does not regrow in New Leaf while time traveling.)
- The player can get multiple K.K. Slider songs without having to wait for next Saturday night.
- Allows the player to get the Golden Shovel faster (Wild World and City Folk)
- Ability to partake in things that would normally be closed at certain hours in real-time.
- Unwanted villagers can be moved out faster.
- Speeds up hybridizing flowers.
- Bushes and trees will grow at a faster rate. (4-5 days)
- Allows the player to participate in their birthday or their villagers' birthdays more quickly.
- In New Horizons, the player can time travel to kick out any villager they want.
- There will be more weeds. (Using Wisp by finding his lamp can solve this or Beautiful Town ordinance in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.)
- Flowers will shrivel or die. (Won't happen if Beautiful Town ordinance is in effect in New Leaf.)
- The player will miss out on some items for sale in the in-game shops.
- The player's mailbox may fill up, which will not allow for any more mail until emptied or tossed. (In New Leaf, mail will simply be backed up. Any and all unsent letters will be sent the following day and continue doing so until all scheduled letters are sent.)
- The player will get bed hair if they travel forward in time more than a week.
- Phineas will not appear for a while. (Doesn't include New Leaf.)
- Turnip prices will stay low. (Doesn't seem to happen in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.)
- Turnips will die when a player time travels backwards.
- Villagers will talk about how long the player was away for.
- Cockroaches will appear in the player's home unless the Beautiful Town Ordinance is in effect.
- Tom Nook's Store has the possibility of downgrading in Wild World and City Folk.
- In Wild World, the player will be unable to use the catalog.
- Snowmen in town will melt. This includes traveling backwards, even if the snowman was "alive" on the player's destination day.
- Villagers may feel neglected due to a lack of interaction and move out. This does not apply in New Horizons.
- In New Horizons, time travelling backwards with an open plot past 5AM previous day may cause the plot to fill up.
- In New Horizons, time travelling more than a day forwards or time travelling backwards can cause an already sold plot to glitch out.
- The player can prevent turnip deaths by burying them, time-traveling, and then digging them back up, and the turnips will remain fresh. (This does not work in New Horizons.)