Indulge your inner interior designer.
I have spent many hours in the company of Tom Nook, Isabelle and the other animals of Animal Crossing, always as the newcomer to town. I built relationships, gathered and maintained stuff, and created a life for myself in a new town. Sure, I was riddled with debt, but at least I had a place that I could call home.
The latest game in the Animal Crossing series is more of a spin off title, offering a more condensed approach to one of the previous games’ features, and no home ownership. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer once more puts the player into the boots of a newcomer to the town, but this time they are there to do a very specific job.
It will come as no surprise to hear that once again the player is working for the entrepreneurial Tom Nook, this time in his new venture Nook’s Homes. It would also seem that nearly every other animal from the other Animal Crossing games are also just moving into town and, as he will never pass on making some Bells, they are all relying on Nook’s new business to provide them with the perfect house.
This is where the player comes in. As an employee of Nook’s Homes, the player will greet a client and begin designing their perfect home. The specifications are simple – the client comes with a few pieces of furniture which have to be incorporated into the players design. They will also offer some hints as to what they would like, such as cuteness of polka dots. From here the player is left to their own imagination as to how they deck out the house.
As the player moves on through the various customers, they will unlock a massive catalogue of different furniture items and decorations, along with the ability to make their own designs. They will also eventually be able to adjust the positions of such essential items as the windows or light fittings, and they will be able to decorate the outside of the house, and even the garden.
Challenges will come along in which the player will find themselves rebuilding the town and placing special buildings such as schools or hospitals. Again, these will come with a list of requirements before the player can set their imaginations free.
Once the player has completed a task, they will be congratulated, rewarded and then move onto the next client. Players are able to visit the houses that they have created, and tinker further with the design.
The controls for Happy Home Designer are very well done, a vast improvement over the home designing aspect of the original Animal Crossing games. The player is given a plan of the home on the touchscreen and then, with some dragging and tapping, can move and place everything as it needs to be. It really makes interior design a joy.
What is less of a joy is the sense of challenge. Besides the initial requirements, such as using the characters furniture they have brought with them, there really is no limit to how you design their home. Sure, they can hint at what they want, but you are totally free to ignore this without any consequence. Even important buildings such as a school can be designed as strangely as the player wishes, as long as it has the required furniture.
Happy Home Designer brings a little extra expenditure in the form of the Happy Home Designer Amiibo Cards, for those that really get involved with the game. With these packs of cards, players will get additional characters for their town, along with their homes ready to be decorated and some additional items to be used. They do not feel like a necessity, but if you happen to have a favorite character who only appears as a card, then you better get used to spending some money.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a strange game. The Animal Crossing games have always been aimed at the younger audience, yet manage to have a certain appeal to gamers of any age. Happy Home Designer feels much more like it is solely for children who will happily spend hours playing something that has no goal or challenge. The game still manages to be charming, look great and play really well. It just seems a little pointless. If you have a hankering for interior design and fancy wasting some time catering to surprisingly unpicky animals whilst helping to build Tom Nooks fortune, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer could be right up your street.