The only word I can use to describe Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is interesting, but it is a “good” interesting mind you. What Nintendo has done is taken one of the core elements from their highly popular Animal Crossing series and made an entire game out of it. It’s a cold hard logical move that I’m surprised wasn’t done sooner, because let’s face it; decorating one’s home is everybody’s favorite part of Animal Crossing anyways. The only problem is that the game never goes beyond that. All you do is decorate homes and facilities. It’s a wonderful dream come true for creative minds, but for those lacking any sort of imaginative spark, this title is going to fall flat.
As seems to be the pattern with Nintendo games lately, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a creative title that gives the player all the tools they need to make any sort of space they want. The Story is simple; you are a new hire at Nook’s Homes looking to make a name for yourself in the decorating game. Quickly, you gain traction with the village folk and eventually graduate onto crafting facilities, like schools and restaurants, for the town. Each new job adds appropriate furniture to your catalogue of wares in order to best complete your current task.
As with all old Animal Crossing titles, movement is handled with the joystick. If you so choose, you can move around furniture in this traditional way too…but there’s a much simpler and much quicker method now at your disposal. Happy Home Designer uses the 3DS’s touch screen a lot; almost entirely in fact. On your bottom screen you’ll find a layout of the room you’re standing in as well as all the pieces of furniture therein. Moving each piece requires a simple ‘drag’ to the desired location, with a simple ‘tap’ being used to rotate. All furniture is stored in array of tabs along the top of the screen, and believe me…there is a lot of it. Beds, tables, chairs, pictures, bowls of fruit, instruments, clocks, teddy bears, a toilet…you can find anything. As is the case with the mainline Animal Crossing titles, you’ll also be able to change up the flooring and wallpaper as well as place rugs. Some villagers may also ask you to give their yard a makeover too, which is my favorite bit in case you were curious. A successful and well received home will earn you use of one of Animal Crossing’s many emotive emotions for use whenever you’d like.
“As a whole Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is pretty good. It is a solid package that uses everything that the 3DS has to offer and it’s has loads of entertainment value for those that like to create…”
In the area of presentation, you’ll find that Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer strays very little from what was already established in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The visual style and aesthetics haven’t budged an inch. Aside from some new décor for the houses and facilities that you’ll be gracing your talent with, seasoned players shouldn’t expect anything new, but for the uninitiated, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer sports a timeless, friendly and colorful look to draw in all crowds. While this look may scare off some of the more *ahem* “macho” gamers out there, the visual style of the game definitely wasn’t targeting their demographic anyhow.
Many songs remain intact from previous installments, but aside from the occasional remix, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer sports an entirely new score. Many recurring characters such as Tom Nook and Isabelle are accompanied by familiar jingles, but most everything found in this game has been given a fresh lease. Some songs you will end up getting very familiar with after time, given the sheer amount of exposure, namely the tune played while actually laying out a home. The song itself does everything right, but after 30 minutes of hearing it in a loop, like most anything else it can become tedious.
Happy Home Designer makes use of just about every facet of the Nintendo 3D. It uses Play Coins (which I’m sure by now have a layer of dust on them so big you could use it to press glass), StreetPass, Miiverse, and of course the big selling point on this title, Amiibos. Play Coins are a simple enough functionality; you spend them to earn new furniture in your designs. You’ll be given a book early(ish) in the game that allows you to spend Play Coins on new types of furniture. More furniture means more variety, which means more excellent houses! StreetPass and Miiverse are fairly self-explanatory, each being a different way to share and receive décor designs. This is especially helpful if you find yourself in a creative jam and want to cruise around for some inspiration. Lastly the Amiibos, which is a big feature. Alongside the release of Happy Home Designer is a set of Amiibos, but this time in the form of trading cards. Each card in this 100 card set represents a different villager that has been present in past Animal Crossing titles. These cards, when used, bring the corresponding villager to your shop in hopes of having their home designed (or redesigned) by yours truly. Depending on the cards you get, you may even get an opportunity to homes for special villagers like K.K. Slider, Mr. Resetti or Crazy Red.
As a whole Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is pretty good. It is a solid package that uses everything that the 3DS has to offer and it’s has loads of entertainment value for those that like to create, but I would shy away from recommending it to anyone looking to turn off their brain at the end of the day. I’m genuinely delighted that Nintendo was able to strip away just one aspect of Animal Crossing and make an entire game out of it. Now that they’ve proven that it can be done, I’m casting my vote now that the next Animal Crossing titles should be Animal Crossing: Bug Catcher and Animal Crossing: Fisherman! I kid, I kid…well…not really. I’d so dig that.
***Game reviewed on the 3DS with a retail copy provided by publisher***
– Lots of decorating options
– New Amiibo cards
– Uses all 3DS features
– Creativity is almost a must
– You must want to work at it
– A one trick pony