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Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review

Leave your shovels, fishing rods and nets at the door as you embark on a new journey with interior design in Nintendo’s latest Animal Crossing title. With the beautiful New Leaf style back in focus, Happy Home Designer isn’t quite the perfect fruit collection, but it still sparkles with its typical franchise charm.

From Animal Crossing New Leaf’s assistant director Isao Moro and developed by Nintendo’s EAD team comes a new 3DS spin-off for the delightful simulation game. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is made for those who spend more time decorating their homes, than bothering Blathers with creepy crawlies for the town museum. So if you always wanted to give your favourite characters’ homes a flavour of your creative talent, then Happy Home Designer is certain to pop a spring in your step. Though you aren’t quite the mayor of a town this time, you’ll still provide clients with better customer service than the lovely but ever idle Tom Nook. In fact, he’s managed to become so elusive in Happy Home Designer, that he only ever graces your presence once or twice and, thankfully, doesn’t ask for bells.

Yet unlike any other iteration of the Animal Crossing series, players can begin the game by choosing their own avatar’s facial structure and features such as skin, hair and eye colour. Of course, leaving it to chance based on various questions always gave a fluttering thrill with the risk involved, but restarting repeatedly was never a fun choice. Yet the icing on the cake comes with being able to change your entire look whenever you wish throughout the game; a real positive change in the series.


OMIGOSH. Is that Tom Nook? Has he lost weight? Are my eyes deceiving me… he’s working?!

Once you’ve chosen your avatar, Happy Home Designer presents players with a short tutorial section where you’ll meet the huffing and puffing Lyle and his daughter Lottie in Nook’s Homes. Tasked with creating a cosy home for Lottie, you can get to grips with house staples such as beds, tables and chairs in the neat menu section. But designers will only be able to complete one client home or works project per in-game day, meaning it’s back to basics when saving your game. Simply sit at your desk in Nook’s Homes and write up your report to save, similar to the bed in previous titles. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, after all we avoid Resetti, but there’s nothing like the freedom of pushing the start button to save.

The furniture catalogue can be accessed with your stylus, or the X button on the 3DS, and displays standard household items. Talking to new clients outside of Nook’s Homes gives players an opportunity to expand their current collection with new furniture sets and miscellaneous items when designing their home. Four new characters will mill around Nook’s Homes every in-game day producing a cloud bubble over their heads when near, so there’s plenty of choice when it comes to designing different houses from client criteria.

Franchise fans can also rejoice as the irksome push and pull mechanic used in previous games is no longer the sole focus of item placement. Simply use your stylus to place the object, rotate it and move it to anywhere in the room you wish. Even duplicating items is easy with a quick tap of the item in conjunction with the right shoulder button, alongside grouping select items together with a handy drag and drop tool.


Picnic bliss for Beau in his Garden of Eden. It’s a shame he’s a little camera shy, or is that the cold shoulder?

After a number of in-game days have passed and you’re on your way to becoming an interior design pro, players will gain access to the Happy Home handbook; another fantastic addition to the title. Up to 14 lessons are available to choose, including new floor plans and layouts, changing interior windows and doors, as well as adding customised or refurbished furniture. And given bells are unheard of in Happy Home Designer, you’ll have to purchase lessons via play coins in increments of one, two or five. Unfortunately, players can only learn one new lesson per in-game day which causes minor frustration, particularly when most of the cool features are locked out from the beginning and, ultimately, are part of the core experience.

But designing character homes isn’t the only option as before long our wonderful, familiar friend from New Leaf pops up and we’re knee deep in public works projects. Unlike the projects in the past though, Isabelle gives you full leeway when designing the interior. Branch out with your creativity by planning a school, hospital, restaurant, offices and a variety of shops for the town’s market district. Happy Home Designer is quite simply a joy to play in these parts, giving fans the scope they’ve always dreamed of when bringing their Animal Crossing town to life.

As much as Happy Home Designer excites and drives our passion for client interior design, whether that’s through creating a mansion exterior, providing them with a beautiful garden, giving them extra space with two rooms, or from picking an adequate map location come rain, shine or snow, it’s still missing two features. The lack of town exploration dilutes the experience entirely. With no choice but to get in your car to visit character homes, it’s similar to driving in the dark; mostly black with an occasional light to illuminate.


Unfortunately, two rooms is the best we can do in Happy Home Designer. No bathrooms for you! Outside is best for animals.

Perhaps it’s part of an interior designer’s narcissism, but wouldn’t it be great to look on those houses in a complete town, knowing they were built from the ground up? The second, and probably the most important feature of all, Happy Home Designer doesn’t give you a happy home of your own. May as well just slap a mortgage on bare land, for old time’s sake, while Mr. Nook happily counts his golden bell stash.

Nintendo, though, have integrated Miiverse functionality seamlessly within the game and can be opened up at any time from the touch screen, alongside 3DS image share. Plus the addition of the amiibo cards are bound to come into their own and add enough variation to keep the game fluid and exciting. Personally, I’ve yet to experiment with them but players can access this feature easily within Nook’s Homes and the amiibo phone. In terms of online interactivity, players will be able to obtain special design requests which can be created and sent back to the requester.

Though Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer has its hang-ups, it’s an enjoyable game that never feels out of place from the main series. With enough home and project variety, an expansive list of items and characters that will always exude appeal, it’s a great side salad to New Leaf’s seasoned main.


42 thoughts on “Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review”

  1. This site is too scared to give a Nintendo game a 7/10, so they pretty much always give 8/10 when they aren’t really enjoying the game, but also want to please the fanboys in the comments. The only one I can remember getting 7/10 was Devil’s Third which is an abysmal game, so they gave it a 7/10 which is absurdly high, but you know….everything for that traffic, I suppose.

    1. Yes, it’s all a big conspiracy!

      We aren’t under knife point, forced to give games certain scores to please certain people XD

      I think you’re reading too much into our reviews and review scores :)

      1. When I only see 8/10 and 9/10, but other sites give most Nintendo games scores from 6/10-10/10, something is suspicious.

        You are not under knife point, but I’m sure you’ve seen reactions of fanboys to low scores of Nintendo games from other sites and don’t want the same rage to be directed towards you. It’s a smart business decision, but some can see through it.

        1. Hi TheGreatExposer,

          Thanks for your comment.

          Given we usually score Nintendo games anywhere between a 5 to a 10, (at least in the 40 plus reviews I’ve written for MNN) I think you’ve got your wires crossed somewhere. We publish our reviews when the embargo lifts. We don’t see other people’s review scores, we go with our gut. On the odd occasion we don’t publish our reviews when the embargo lifts, I purposefully do not read or look at scores for a game I’m reviewing. So perhaps you should read the review before jumping to conclusions with the score. If you did, however, read the review – thanks!

          1. I wasn’t talking about the review of the game that you were reviewing. I was talking about Nintendo games in general. Like that Pokemon game that got 7.8 on IGN and everyone was angry about it. Same with Skyward Sword on Gamespot. Same with Splatoon, etc. These people expect at LEAST an 8 because, hey, it’s a Nintendo game which means that it’s automatically amazing. /sarcasm

            1. For this game in particular, I played 20 hours of it. And never got bored.
              For every game I review, I aim to play at least 10 hours, depending on the size of the game or its storyline. For Rune Factory – an RPG – I played 50 hours. If you still wish to challenge my integrity after knowing the facts, then perhaps you should take your comments elsewhere.

      2. >>>It’s amusing how you pathetic slaves blame Sickr and me the most out of everyone on this base for apparently “Not having anything else to do but this site” and yet, you are the ones complaining, whining and are here 24/7 more than either of us do>>>

  2. As a longtime AC fan, I just don’t care about this game. But this clearly wasn’t made for the fans who enjoy the whole of AC gameplay. Just the ones who like to decorate. Sounds like a somewhat empty experience to me.

    1. I think so too, but had to buy the New 3DS bundle with this game just for the standard white New 3DS. Nintendo knows how to elicit my money lol.

  3. Happy home can go build its home inside the animal crossing team’s poop, this sucks, you need to get amiibo and play a party dice game like a bad mario party

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  5. I’m sick of hearing people complain about having to buy amiibos in order to play certain games/modes. Are you all that cheap where you can’t buy a few amiibos? I don’t even work but I have nearly every amiibo (plus many duplicates).

    1. Yes, we know you like to waste your money. Congratulations.

      You are really fucking ignorant and pathetic if you don’t realize what is wrong with having to buy a game AND an accessory just to access a small portion of an uninteresting game.

      On the other hand, amiibos add very little to nearly every other Nintendo game. A racing costume for my amiibo? Whoopty fucking doo. How about some extra karts or racing challenges? Rupees in hyrule warriors? Wow that was worth it.

      Splatoon and Smash Bros are the only two that decently use amiibo, and sadly you can’t use a single amiibo in both those games. Nintendo needs to model off those games plus skylanders/infinity.

      1. But it’s no different than having to pay for DLC (which I often complain about) just to get something extra. At least with amiibo’s you get a physical figure that you can keep and display.

  6. 8/10?

    For fucks sake you guys suck. Did you even play the damn game? All you have to do is unpack the 3 items that the villagers bring with them to their new house and you’ll get the best rating there is. The only way you can fail is if you throw their possisions away. Hell even if you do throw them away you can buy them back, for free, with no penalty whatsoever.

    1. If you see one of my comments above, I played the game for 20 hours.

      The Animal Crossing series has never been one for its challenging nature, in fact, it’s been quite the opposite. You can make the game what you want. Happy Home Designer is no different. Not everyone wants to play a challenging game – I loved being able to come home from a stressful day at work and get to “work” within the game. It was a pleasurable experience. And one that I think many people will enjoy. It won’t be every AC fans cup of tea, but then it was never meant to be in the first place. It’s for those who want to decorate rather than “bother Blathers”, as I said in my review.

      1. Don’t mind the complainers, Colette. You can’t satisfy EVERYONE. You just keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the haters.

  7. Wow. This is utter trash.
    I’m glad there has been some response from the MNN guys.
    I’d really REALLY would love to see you do a review on Wii Music.
    Calling it now… 9/10

  8. To everybody complaining about the 8/10 rating:
    Actually, rating ANY games is pointless when you think about it. Because everybody has their own opinions. Ratings are only one person’s (or one group of people’s) opinions. There’s been a few games in the past that got horrible ratings, but I actually liked. EGM magazine once called a game that I liked the “Turd Of The Month” (or, something like that. Might have been “Shame Of The Month”). I remember thinking they were jerks. And GamePro magazine gave Earthbound MUCH lower ratings than it deserved. The only thing that’s good about people rating games is that it gives people a general idea of what the game contains, and what to expect.

      1. What on earth makes you think I write like a child? My comments are always very well written, and I usually spell better than most people on here as well. So, how do I write like a child? Because I wrote “turd”? If that’s why, you’re really stretching it. LOL!

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