Animal Crossing Automation

Use a Raspberry Pi and the SparkFun Top pHAT to automate your way through the litany of menus in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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Let me paint you a picture: You’re doing your daily chores. You know, like picking up shells on the beach, pulling weeds, watering flowers, digging up fossils, chopping wood, running from swarms of bees… Regular stuff. Suddenly, you realize your pockets are full. Well that won’t do! You can’t continue the day’s work with full pockets, and you do have a vaguely-termed mortgage to pay, after all.

So, first thing’s first, you’d better run to the museum to get those fossils assessed. Then, it’s on to the nearby shop where you sell your wares to the local merchant and his twin brother for a hefty profit. It sure is wonderful to participate in a thriving local economy!

There are some drawbacks, though. The owl who assesses your fossils has a way of blathering on forever, and you return to the merchants and empty your pockets of rubbish so often that you often unintentionally sell items you wanted to keep out of sheer impatience with this process…

Your Pockets Are Full!

If you can relate to that, you’re probably playing too much Animal Crossing: New Horizons, like me. And if you’re like me, you’re probably experiencing a little “menu fatigue” (or a lot).

For the uninitiated, Animal Crossing is a series of simulation games where you play as a human avatar living in a village of anthropomorphic animals who gossip, feud, form friendships, trade home decor items, and do other virtual animal things. The newest installment in the series allows for unprecedented community customization, but nothing is free. The open-ended multitude of possibilities within the game gives me a sense of freedom and opportunity within the confines of our current “quarantine.” I do have one big gripe, though.

The main mode of interaction with everything in the game is through an endless series of text menus, many of which you will navigate in almost identical fashion every time you use them. I sometimes become so annoyed at the thought of having to sort my inventory or sell all the stuff in my pockets that I just save and quit playing, leaving the problem for my future self to deal with (and he’s no less annoyed). I am aware that this is very petty.

When browsing the various Nintendo and Animal Crossing related subreddits, I came across Joycontrol, a project that allows the user to emulate Nintendo Switch controllers on a Raspberry Pi, and I had an idea: what if I could use this project to automate away some of my menu woes?

I forked the repository and got to work. The original project allows one to emulate basic button press events via the terminal. What I’ve added in my repo is a few additional CLI commands that allow the user to record, replay and delete controller macros via keyboard input.

Nintendo Switch Macro Recording on the Raspberry Pi

July 8, 2020

Learn how to record and playback controller 'macros' for your Nintendo Switch using a Raspberry Pi, SparkFun Top pHAT, and Joycontrol.

Joycontrol-ms, my take on the original Joycontrol project, comes with an example macro that automatically defeats world 1-1 of the original Super Mario Bros game on the NES virtual console, and is ideal for automating the more banal aspects of your daily grind in Animal Crossing New Horizons. Check out the tutorial below and start raking in the Bells!

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