One of my favorite Gamecube games was “Animal Crossing.” It’s cute design, fun gameplay, and characters made it a blast to play. One of the best parts was collecting things and designing your house, so why wouldn’t you want that with “Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer?”
The thing that made “Animal Crossing” so special was the clock was set to your console’s clock and the game would keep playing when you were not. The people in your town would go about their business and the seasons would change. When you came back to play, your town was different and people wanted to know where you went. As you play, people give you things to do and rewards for your house. You can only get certain items during different parts of the year.
“Happy Home Designer” skips the chores like bug collecting, fishing, and chatting. If your favorite thing about “Animal Crossing” was designing your house then you’re in luck because that’s pretty much the only thing you can do in “Happy Home Designer.” There are many things you can customize such as wallpaper, furniture and the flooring. If you played the old games, designing your house is second nature.
Tom Nook took interest in your design abilities and has hired you to be a professional home designer. In the older games you had to earn money to buy design items but now you are a pro. People pay you to design their homes and they pay all the bills so there is no limitation on price. Earning money was half the fun in the old games because it felt rewarding when you earned enough to buy that cool new carpet or bookshelf.
The main point of the game is finding out what clients want their house to look like and getting the items from a catalog and putting them in place. The people give you some hints but for the most part you can design the houses however you want. After you are done designing houses you can help the whole community out by designing businesses and schools.
There isn’t much of a challenge in “Happy Home Designer” and that’s one of the reasons why the replay value is low. Yes, the clients tell you what they want in their house and they seem like they are very picky but they don’t care at all. There were several times where I messed up and forgot what they wanted and they still loved my design. It doesn’t matter how bad you do, they love it, so if you can’t lose what is the point.
There is no incentive or reward for making the best house so the gameplay gets old pretty fast. In the older games your house was rated by the Happy Home Academy but they aren’t around this time. If you want to test your design skills you can post your houses online for people to rate but even looking at other people’s houses is only fun for so long.
One of the most interesting things in the game is the addition of Amiibo support. You can import characters to the game. It doesn’t change the gameplay but it gives you more people to interact with. The only issue is the older 3DS doesn’t have the Amiibo reader so if you have the older system you are out of luck unless you buy the extra card reader accessory for your 3DS.
If you are a fan of “Animal Crossing” you will be severely let down by “Happy Home Design” because most of the fun elements are missing. Without a challenge there is no reason to play for extended periods of time.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]