In 2022, cozy games went from niche to video game fixture

A still image from the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons | Image: Nintendo

For as long as I had a GameCube, I don’t think I ever once beat a game.

When my plane first landed on Isle Delfino in Super Mario: Sunshine in 2002, my main priority was finishing the tutorial. It was the one chore needing completion before I was free to wander around the plaza, pretending to buy fruit from island vendors. Similarly, my brother and I would spend countless hours in Kirby Air Ride but never raced one another. Like with dozens of other games, we’d argue over which virtual sky-rise belonged to our color Kirby before treating the game as if it were a life-sim, riding our racers around town, running imaginary errands, and acting out absurdly complex social dramas between our squishy, round characters.

These games were never…

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