Admittedly when Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer came out on the 3DS, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I’d only started playing the series at New Leaf and hadn’t committed enough time to it to really have enough furniture to design my house nicely. So I picked it up excited for a new island to design and explore, only to be a little disappointed that it was purely designing houses.
However, like many of us, I racked up hundreds of hours on New Horizons in 2020 and really got a feel as to what Animal Crossing had to offer besides just fishing and catching bugs. I finally got to experience the joy and frustration of hunting down the last piece of furniture from the cute set to complete a room in my house. I finally understood why people loved designing their houses so much, and so when the Happy Home Paradise DLC was announced, I was over the moon.
Considering Happy Home Designer was a standalone game and retailed at RRP Nintendo pricing, it wasn’t a surprise when Happy Home Paradise was announced as paid DLC for New Horizons. Retailing at $37.50 in Australia, it packs a lot of content for the price. The first time you boot up your game, Tom Nook summons you to your island’s airport to meet with an adorable otter named Lottie. She’s a familiar face to those who played the 3DS titles but a new addition to New Horizons. She tells you that she owns Paradise Planning, a company that specialises in building and designing vacation homes. You’re offered a job as a designer which then unlocks the content.
“Everything is customisable, including the weather of the island and the time of day.”
Paradise Planning is set on a gorgeous island separate from your own, and you better believe the first thing I did was run around to see how much I could explore. The good news is all of it! There are vines to climb, glowing moss to pocket and take back to your own island, and villagers daydreaming of their perfect holiday homes, waiting for you to help them out.
The gameplay is relatively straightforward. The daydreaming villagers all have a thought bubble over their heads that gives a brief overview of the sort of vacation home they’re after. You choose one and then get to work, consulting with them to understand what they like. During this consult, you receive three items you must use in their home and choose an island for setup. Everything is customisable, including the weather of the island and the time of day.
“With each rank, your salary goes up, earning you more Poki — unfortunately, they don’t pay in bells.”
The mechanics of designing the interior are the same as back on your own island. However, now you’re not restricted to the furniture that you own. Instead, you are given a catalogue of furniture which meets the client’s vision for their home. It’s up to you how to use this furniture and figure out how to make it work. You are also able to use all the same furniture in the front yard of the block too, along with a very intuitive fencing and a terrain tool that I wish was usable back on my own island.
Throughout your designing, you’ll learn other abilities such as polishing furniture, partition walls, and room expansion to name a few. This allows more creativity with your designs and will help advance you through the design ranks at Paradise Planning. With each rank, your salary goes up, earning you more Poki — unfortunately, they don’t pay in bells. You can use Poki to purchase exclusive items that can’t be found back on your own island. It’s a fun way to spruce up your own home or to gift to your favourite villagers back on your island.
“Happy Home Paradise is a wonderful addition to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”
I’ve been having a lot of fun with Happy Home Paradise and I can say with confidence that I only have one gripe with it. That being that you don’t have full access to the entire catalogue of furniture and items to design with. I know that there are hundreds of items and this could potentially get overwhelming, but being restricted to a few items of each type is frustrating. For example, I had a villager who wanted an entirely black or white room and I wanted to be able to play K.K. Metal inside the home, but was only provided with K.K. Rock. It’s a small complaint, but a little extra freedom would be nice.
Happy Home Paradise is a wonderful addition to New Horizons that adds a lot of content for its price tag. Being able to try out new designs without any stress is an enjoyable way to relax after a long day, and I’ve definitely been enjoying the change of scenery from my own island. Despite my small complaint, the overall experience is a joy to play through and a must-play for anyone that spent a lot of time with the game over the past two years.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is required to play Happy Home Paradise. It can be found on the Nintendo eShop or bought as a DLC code from select retailers for AU$37.50.