Review: Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a spin-off title focusing on one of the many aspects of a regular title. Home Design. You take on the role of a newly a appointed employee of Nook’s Homes where you fulfill the desires and needs of various folks around the town. Tom Nook and the Animal Crossing crew are as charming as ever, each with their own personality that will have you smiling from ear-to-ear. Gothic sheep, snobby hedgehogs, soccer-mom kangaroos… your client base couldn’t be more diverse.
The first thing that stands out about Happy Home Designer is the time structure. The 24-hour cycle has been abandoned which makes perfect sense if you look at what the game has to offer when compared to a traditional Animal Crossing title. As you start off you design small rooms as the games tutorial prepares you for greater tasks such as the design of shops, schools, restaurants and even hospitals. When accepting a job, which essentially takes a ‘day’ in the game but about five to ten minutes in reality, you are presented with additional items which you can use to your own discretion. The only requirement is that you meet certain criteria based on the needs of your client. This comes in the form of including specific items which are usually available as you arrive at the area. The furniture items are vast to say the least by always giving you plenty options designing the home of your… er… your client’s dreams.
The simplicity of the gameplay is both a shining feature as well as the titles downfall. Items are plentiful and the themes are in abundance but this doesn’t overshadow that everything is the same. The fact that you can’t really get anything wrong is a contributing factor to the monotony as a whole. There are no consequences when a room has been designed badly. At a stage I filled a hospital with art pieces and covered it in morbid gothic wallpaper paired with a floral wallpaper and because I added the mandatory items my design was marveled. The ‘ feng shui’ elements from previous titles is greatly missed.
The placement of furniture and fixtures is cleverly implemented with the use of the 3DS touch screen. Shifting and rotating items can be done with the greatest of ease even when there are multiple layers on top of one another. Don’t like the design of a lamp? Just flick it in the trash can and it’s gone. Can’t quite remember where in your inventory you found that vending machine? Simply use the search function. The accessibility of the control scheme can’t be flawed.
After designing your perfect room you are given the option to upload your creations online for other users to see and appreciate. You can also spend your 3DS play coins to add hints and tip to your design handbook. Options such as the sewing machine in the Nook’s Homes office, which allows you to create or import various patters lets you create your own patterns or import them via QR codes. All new Animal Crossing amiibo cards are also compatible with Happy Home Designer providing you have a New 3DS or Nintendo 3DS NFC Reader. The cards unlock new characters with more home renovation requests but one has to question the value of these cards as with time you will eventually encounter these characters anyway.
Happy Home Designer isn’t a traditional Animal Crossing title and it doesn’t pretend to be. Even with the insane amount of decor bits and pieces and impressive cast of characters you can’t help but feel you’re paying full price for a minigame.