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Despite the lack of conventional challenge, there's a strong sense of progression, as you become responsible for exterior as well as interior design, and gain the ability to choose from a range of floor plans. And the dialogue is a delight: we visited our office complex to find a hamster observing that How To Conduct A Productive Meeting might not be an appropriate title for a presentation that's lasted all day. The game's singular focus might alienate Animal Crossing fans who enjoy that game's wider range of activities, but anyone who fancies exercising their inner Laurence Llewelyn Bowen is in for a treat.
But is an enhanced version of a singular aspect of Animal Crossing worth $40, plus the potential cost of a NFC reader and additional amiibo cards? That's something I really can't answer, as value-for-money in gaming is so subjective. If you truly love the creative aspect of designing and showcasing your Animal Crossing living spaces, then it's probably a “yes.” Otherwise, you may just be better off sticking to New Leaf and waiting for a more fully-featured Animal Crossing installment down the line.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a strange game. The Animal Crossing games have always been aimed at the younger audience, yet manage to have a certain appeal to gamers of any age. Happy Home Designer feels much more like it is solely for children who will happily spend hours playing something that has no goal or challenge. The game still manages to be charming, look great and play really well. It just seems a little pointless. If you have a hankering for interior design and fancy wasting some time catering to surprisingly unpicky animals whilst helping to build Tom Nooks fortune, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer could be right up your street.
While this is a fun game for those who want to design homes for their Animal Crossing friends, I advise people to know exactly what it is they’re getting into with this game, especially given its price tag. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is, literally, a game where you design other animals’ houses and a couple of town projects. That’s it. There is nothing else to do. You can’t interact with other villagers or visit friends over the internet or anything else. You just design houses. And that’s okay. That is, after all, exactly what they advertised, and I’m still playing the game with no regrets. It’s just made me realize how much I love everything else about Animal Crossing and how the game feels empty without those other features.