If you loved decorating your home back in previous Animal Crossing titles, then you will love Happy Home Designer. It is a dedicated interior design game, with an adorable Animal Crossing theme. When I say “theme” I mean its just as cute and bubbly as any Animal Crossing title that has come before.
Instead of decorating your house, you now have to decorate other animal’s houses to the way they want. You are given a list of items, and sure you can just go ahead and place only the requested items, but whats the fun in that? The catalog of items is massive, so when you go into an empty room, 10 minutes later it will be full of everything under the sun. The catalog is designed in such a way that it groups similar designed items on the same positions on the same pages. So if you are putting together a black and white room, then all the black and white furniture will be grouped together under their various tabs.
The entire game revolves around you being the town’s designer, this means you will be putting together homes for the city folk, and even building community buildings like hospitals, and schools. There are over 300 animals in the town that want their houses and sometimes even their gardens designed, and each of them have their own vision. When you start a new project for a city folk, it will unlock new themes items for their specific needs, these will then stay with you throughout the game. If one of them wants a Xmas themed house, then you will unlock trees, decorations, lights, and even a Xmas bed, yes, they are hardcore like that. This system keeps the game active at all times rather than waiting for one item to be available in a store every other day, like other Animal Crossing games in the past.
Placing items is extremely easy and the UI and controls are super simple. Using the stylus to place items, dragging them around, tapping on them to rotate them, and duplicating them by holding down the L or R button while giving them a quick tap. You never feel like navigating through the catalog or managing you entire room of items is a hassle. In previous games you would have to push and pull items to control them, thank the heavens that is gone.
Although making your clients happy is the main goal of the game, you really never know when they are truly happy as there is no scoring system. You could just stop polishing up their bedroom without even adding a bed and they will now know the difference. There is however a dedicated online mode that allows you to upload your designs and view other player’s designs. Here you can rate them and on different scales, Cute, Cool, Unique, and I’d live here. But again, there is really no negative rating, which for an interior designer should be important as even negative criticism should be constructive. Saying that, it does help you work a little harder knowing that the entire online community will be paying a visit to your room.
As much as you love what you do, the game fails at making you feel part of it. Your character has very little connection to you personally, and there are no rewards system for completing your work. It makes you feel disconnected from the game and turns it into more of a Sims house editor. As a player you do not participate in the Animal Crossing world that is going on around you at all, and with such a vibrant and active community, its like you are a workaholic with no life. You also do not have your own house, you literally just work, work, and work.
In a nutshell Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a great tribute to the decorative world of the Animal Crossing universe. Its bubbly and alive, you can also spend hour and hours turning a simple four walls into a masterpiece, even if the client couldn’t care less. The game sure lacks a decent rewards system, and the player might feel like a robot, but the idea of being able to create a perfect Animal Crossing home, is the best idea for a spin off in the series.
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