Animal Crossing is arguably the cutest franchise to come out of Nintendo’s headquarters. The entire series is based around simulation and time consuming goals that teach economics. This week however it got it’s first spin-off game on the 3DS. This is the first game to usher in Amiibo use on the 3DS in the form of collectible cards with villagers that can be scanned into your game. Happy Home Designer is a cute relaxing break from all the gritty and realistic games that are being released this season and brings a whole new level of charm to an already loved series. There is also a bundle that includes an Amiibo reader for just ten dollars extra to enhance your play!
Happy Home Designer starts off a little differently than the normal Animal Crossing games. When you start, Tom Nook greets you by telling you that you got a job working for him in home design and asks you to put in your name. The next difference is that he lets you pick your character’s eyes and hair including color instead of it being generated from a series of questions. Tom Nook proceeds to introduce you to the rest of the design crew including all new characters introduced in this game. You are then thrown into the tutorial where you design your co-worker, Lottie, a house and are taught the basic game mechanics.
The main focus of the game is to complete decorating tasks provided by villagers to help grow the town into a bustling place to live. There is an in-game clock and each day you are expected to either meet a client in store or go outside and bring in some work on your own! The other designers stay in the office and give you directive of what to do for the day and tell you when to close up for the day by writing a report that saves your game and sends you to the next day. There are special requests you can take on like helping Isabelle rebuild buildings in the town square for your villagers to use. The game is high in customization and loves giving you freedom to design.
Customization is key in this especially since every villager wants something different. Every time you take a job you get a theme to go with it, like chic or black and white, as well as a few starting pieces of furniture you unpack to give you an idea of the what the villager likes. You will be tasked to customize everything from the flowers in the yard to the way you put a poster on the wall. The more you do tasks the more you get rewarded with new types of furniture to decorate with. You also are awarded emotions for your hard work to express your feelings with your clients while working. There are also decoration categories you can add, like ceiling decorations, by using the play coins you earn by walking around with your 3DS.
The controls for the game are comfortable and easy to use. There is a grid like map on the lower screen of your 3DS to help you place furniture symmetrically. There are several menus sorting out the different items, types of furniture, and house styles you can use when decorating the inside or outside of a house. Included for your convenience is a copy tool to help you quickly replicate items and the ability to turn the camera to look at the room from every direction. There is also a function located in your main office where you can use your Amiibo cards to pick a villager to design a home for, including characters like the mischievous merchant Redd, that will give you free reign over the humble abode.
The characters, music, and art are mostly a classic Animal Crossing package. The music is always a bunch of upbeat tones and the animals all speak in jumbled cutesy dialogue that’s translated in the speech bubbles. Villagers are both new and returning from the other games in the series along with all the main or special characters you encounter. The new characters include Digby, the brother of Isabelle – the fan favorite secretary from The New Leaf game, and a shy otter named Lottie who has a huge visible crush on Digby. The game feels charming and does a great job of making you want to collect the Amiibo cards thanks to the amazing design work put into making each villager special.
So who is this game for? This game is so laid back it can fit in great with a casual gamer as well as a more hardcore gamer that just wants to take a breather from all the more difficult games. This game is also great for all ages, including children that have just began to read since it can help develop their skills. Animal Crossing fans should also give this a try, though it isn’t a core game. Even if it’s just for the pleasure of designing their favorite character a home and don’t mind the absence of their own!