Only Happy for So Long…
by Randy Marr
The most recent game in the Animal Crossing comes to us in the form of a spin off titled Happy Home Designer. You play a villager who joins up with the Happy Home Academy in order to help townsfolk build their dream home. Using a new set of furniture organization tools on the bottom screen, and armed with a slowly growing catalog of furniture to choose from, you must fulfill each villager’s request in decorating their pad. Or not. It’s your game, do what you want.
And there in lies the first problem with Happy Home Designer: the lack of structure. On one hand, it’s nice to be given a series of blank canvases to work your interior decorating magic on, but after the 10th, 15th, or 20th time, you’ll start to crave some rules. A challenge. A point structure. Anything that can give you purpose to cramming furniture into some chicken’s new house.
The new way you organize furniture in the houses of your clients is effective, and is hopefully a glimpse into the future of organizing your personal house in future Animal Crossing titles. In fact, this whole game feels like somebody came up with a great new system for organizing furniture, and rather than making a new Animal Crossing game on the WiiU or for whatever the “NX” is going to be, they instead made a game based solely around that function.
That in and of itself wouldn’t be terrible. In fact, the idea of freely creating a house now and again is pretty fun for a little while. Given that the game does nothing more than expand upon a couple of elements from Animal Crossing: New Leaf, while completely removing most of them, a full price is hard to swallow. Not only that, but the supplementary Amiibo Cards lead to inflating the price even further.
The Amiibo Cards are ultimately useless in this title. For the most part, every character that’s on an Amiibo Card can be found in game, so there’s no need to have a card for them once you’ve found them. Alternatively, the cards do make a great way to hunt down your favorite villagers (*cough*Tangy*cough*) and have direct access to them, but that only diminishes the card’s overall value. And at a dollar a card, there’s not a lot of room for Nintendo to be bringing down the value. Some special characters, such as K.K. Slider and Saharah, are (as far as I’ve found) the only characters that can’t be found through regular gameplay and must be scanned in with an Amiibo Card.
What feels like a neat R&D experiment appears to have turned into a full fledged game without a lot of actual substance to justify the price. Add on the 100 Amiibo Cards in randomized packs (for just the first wave) and you’ve got an insane amount of money spent with no real reason to do so. It’s a bad value, through and through.