How to Restart Animal Crossing New Horizons

How to wipe your island clean and start over

Starting over in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a big decision and the game makes you go through a few steps in order to permanently delete your island. Fortunately, the process is relatively straightforward so if you’re ready to wipe your island clean and start over, here’s what you need to know.

How to Restart Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the First Day

The easiest way to start over in Animal Crossing is to do so right after you start playing for the first time. After naming your island and selecting a layout, you’ll arrive with two villagers. You can take this time to explore your island and speak with your villagers to see if you like them.

Although your initial villagers are randomized, their personalities are pre-determined. You’ll always have a male jock like Lyman and a female uchi (“big sister”) type like Hazel.

You’ll also be able to check which type of fruit your island produces. Every island has one of five native fruits: apples, pears, peaches, cherries, or oranges. If you’d prefer to have a different island layout, villagers, or fruit, you can reset the game by closing the software completely.

Here's how:

  1. Press the Home button on your Nintendo Switch.

    Nintendo Switch with home button highlighted.
  2. Highlight the Animal Crossing game and press the X on the controller.

    Selecting Animal Crossing: New Horizons game icon on Nintendo Switch home menu
  3. Select Close to close the software.

    Closing Animal Crossing: New Horizons software on Nintendo Switch

While it’s important to pick an island layout that you like, you won’t be stuck with it forever. Once you reach a certain point in the game, you’ll unlock the Island Designer app. This will allow you to terraform your island and arrange it however you see fit.

Once you load the game again, you’ll find that your island layout, starter residents, native fruit, and airport color will all have reset. You’re free to do this as many times as you wish, as Animal Crossing’s autosave feature won’t kick in until after you finish the first day tutorial and wake up in your tent. After this point, your island will be locked in and you’ll be unable to restart using any in-game options.

How to Restart Animal Crossing by Clearing Save Data

After you’ve finished the first day on your island, the only way to start over is to delete your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data. This also means you’ll need to delete your first character or “Resident Representative”, as you cannot carry this character over to another island or even transfer the Resident Representative title to another player profile.

If you’d like a particular player to be the Resident Representative on your new island, make sure they begin Animal Crossing using their player profile. The first player account to start the game will always have this title and be granted more permissions than other players who join your island.

To delete your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data, follow these steps:

  1. Select System Settings from the Switch Home Menu.

    Selecting System Settings on Nintendo Switch home menu
  2. Select Data Management.

    Selecting Data Management in Nintendo Switch System Settings
  3. Scroll down to Delete Save Data.

    Selecting Delete Save Data from Nintendo Switch System Settings
  4. Locate your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data and select Delete All Save Data for This Software.

    Selecting Delete All Save Data for Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  5. Confirm by selecting Delete Save Data.

    Permanently deleting save data for Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Once you’ve deleted the save file, launch Animal Crossing again and you’ll be able to start over entirely.

Resetting the game will erase everything, so make sure you really want to start over before following the steps below. You’ll lose not just your character, but all of the items you’ve collected. If you have some rare items you don’t want to lose, you may want to transfer them to a friend online first.

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