I have a passionate love for Nintendo DS games ever since my very first DS Lite. One very special game to me was Animal Crossing: Wild World which came out in 2007. But did you know, the series actually started in Japan in 2001! For those of you who don’t know what Animal Crossing is, well, it’s whatever you make it: your only limitation is your imagination!
You are given a small town to live in (or even own in later versions such as New Leaf) and you interact with sweet animal characters – each with their own personality.
With this great history of the game I was so excited for the newest addition to the series: Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer. However, I have been disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that New Leaf would be a hard act to follow – the range of things you can do as the mayor of your town is amazing. I also love the ideas that you can decorate public places such as restaurants and department stores!
But here are my 5 reasons why this game disappointed me:
1. Where is my town?
In Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, you are limited to the area around Nook’s Homes. This includes some empty and run down buildings when you first start which you soon develop into a school, hospital and shop. To visit other animals, you have to travel through the “Client Book” given to you once you have designed the house of your first client. Compared to other games, this is a very small area to explore and seems to be very restricting.
2. Time sure flies by!
Unlike the rest of the series, Happy Home Designer does not run on real time or season. Although it is nice to be able to change the season of where a client lives to suit their needs e.g. summer weather for an exotic resort, I really loved exploring my town in the different seasons and see it get darker in the game when it did outside my window.
The day consists of your character being given a task to do and once you have completed it, it’s night time. At the end of the day, you record your work in a notebook and go home which is how the game saves.
3. Happy “Home” Designer
Although you spend many many hours designing homes for other animals and special characters you can collect with Amiibo cards, you never actually get to design or see your own home. At the end of the day, you select the option to “go home” and the sun rises above Nook’s Homes again when you continue.
4. Introvert Behaviour
Your character is SO obsessed with their work that you never actually get to have a casual conversation with another animal. Their text consists of expectations for their new homes, talking about your designs of public places or making these random comments about Nintendique Magazine. Playing games and running errands for the animals was rather tiring in Animal Crossing: New Leaf but I LOVED every minute of it. It made it so relaxing and an enjoyable interaction used to get to know the neighbours of the town.
5. What happens when you run out of things to do?
Other Animal Crossing games go on and on with the changing seasons, new events and residents moving on, which meant that the game was never actually completed! It meant that even though I received New Leaf in 2012, I can still play it 3 years later and it’s still fun!
Happy Home Designer seems to be ‘complete-able’. Once you’ve done all the public works projects you can and all however-many-hundreds of animals there are to make houses for… That’s it. Of course, I have not completed my game to that extent and indeed, the Amiibo cards do give you more content (at a price!!) but after a while it’s going to get really tiring.
Overall, although the game is a lovely idea with beautiful creations made possible – with your animals actually using them! – the game feels like another simulator with the Animal Crossing brand name slapped on it. It lacks the personality and charm of the other games in the series and even a multi-player mode… But I can share my designs with other people through codes and QR codes(!)
On a generous note, I would give this game 2/5 because I love the idea, the customisability of the game and the new role of your character… It just feels like it would better suit being extra content for another game like New Leaf.
Be sure to check out some of my designs such as Bunnie’s ‘perpetual birthday party’ house by using the QR code here!
What do you think of the game? Do you disagree? Please let me know!