Introducing: Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise Review
Like many, I fell off of playing Animal Crossing New Horizons over the months since launch. In part it was that the lockdowns in my area had lightened somewhat and I did not need to turn to the world of the cute and colorful little animals to actually feel something. It was a bit of a dark time and the soft and cheery world of Animal Crossing was a comfort. I never achieved the most decked out island in the world, but I was able to get somewhere that I was somewhat happy with and it’s somewhere that I am happy to return to now that there have been some strong updates and DLC.
So, this is going to be mostly a review of the DLC, but I will talk some about the other things that were added in the big 2.0 update as well, later on, so feel free to skip to that portion if that is all that you are interested in learning more about!
Get a job!
Happy Home Paradise caught my eye as an interesting concept right off the bat. You see, this DLC is really a sequel to Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Remember that? Not everyone does and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one that wasn’t on your radar as it only sold about a quarter of the amount that Animal Crossing: New Leaf did. It was a little game that was all about setting up homes for Animal Crossing villagers and was one of the games that allowed you to make use of the amiibo cards for the series. That’s really all it was, a delightful little story about working together and building up a community and homes for a series of different animal friends.
Happy Home Paradise is much of the same, but at the same time, so much more. I admit that I have not seen this all to the complete end due to the way the content is paced out. It’s clearly one that you are meant to chip at a little more each day rather than knock out in a few lengthy sittings. However, I have seen a good deal of what there is to offer and it’s just adorable. Lottie, the office manager of Happy Home Designer, has started up her own business to follow in the footsteps of good old Tom Nook and is now seeing to the construction and decoration of a variety of vacation homes on a little archipelago of islands not far from your New Horizons island. You’ve been recruited to help out with this due to your stellar renovation skills. From there it’s much the same as Happy Home Designer, helping out animals with their homes and renovating some other buildings around the home office to build up a vacation paradise!
How does she know you have those skills? Well, from what I can tell, the DLC only unlocks once you have reached a three star rating for your island. That’s a shame for anyone who decided to restart in anticipation, unfortunately. However, it does lend some level of understanding as to why you would be recruited as three stars is the level you have to reach to complete the “main story” of New Horizons, gaining a visit from K. K. Slider himself.
Interior Designing is Easy!
Is this really all just decorating houses? Absolutely! The mechanics are very simple and build off of what is already available for building a proper home in New Horizons. However, there are other things introduced that make it a lot easier in some respects. For example, outdoor landscaping hi Happy Home Paradise does not involve manually digging and moving trees and is done in the same manner as the interior designing, with the ability to pick up and drop things as you see fit along with newly intuitive fencing and path tools. Working with Paradise Planning will also give you the new Pro Designer License for free instead of paying with Nook Miles. This gives you access to the new design innovations like accent walls of a different color and décor that can be hung from the ceiling.
Partition walls are a new addition as well, allowing you to segment off a room without the use for objects such as privacy screens or panels. No more will your toilet simply stare at your bed. While other methods did work fine, the benefit of the partition walls is that they will pick up the wallpaper of the wall that they are touching, allowing them to blend in better. The one complaint that I do have is that you cannot hang any wall décor on these walls, so they can come off a little bare, but careful designing can work around that. These walls can sometimes feel like they are almost impossible to go without now that rooms can be expanded to a massive ten by ten size too!
Lots to do!
Your clients are shockingly easy to please. They’ll have a handful of items that they would like to be in their home and as long as those are there, they’ll think it’s the best thing that they have ever seen! It’s quite par for the course for the friendly nature of Animal Crossing, but I can’t get too mad at it. It means that you have a lot more freedom in interpreting what is meant by the briefing that the client gives. Sure, you could unpack their three items and call it a day, but if you picked up this DLC, then you’re likely someone interested in the design side of Animal Crossing, so making your own fun won’t be that hard. There’s no score or anything like that, only a payment given by Lottie back at the office when everything is all done. The Poki she gives you can only be spent on the island shop, but there’s a rotating selection of items each day, which makes spending easy. The doling out of your payment and this shop makes for a great pacing tool. Play just enought o buy what you want and then move onto something else for the day.
It helps that new mechanics such as the aforementioned upsizing of houses are doled out at a comfortable pace as well. At first you are just going to be doing simple designing, but after a bit you can select roommates to share a home based on their interests, give items a polish to make them sparkle. In fact, the deeper you get the more different types of polish you can add, giving completely different vibes to the whole room if you so choose. I still have more to unlock yet, but I feel like I’m getting something new to play with at a decent clip and I’ll have a hefty roster of new tools by the time I’ve gained the last.
This all plays really well with everything that came in the wider update as well. Much of what you are able to do at your new planning job can be carried back to your island. Changing the size of rooms and the exterior decorating don’t, but things like polishing and partitions do. I think this is the greatest benefit of having this DLC as an attachment rather than a standalone game. New Leaf did eventually bring in some of the elements of Happy Home Designer via an update, but this time they’re all here from the start along with a whole bunch of new furniture that you can bring over from one to another. Also, the ultimate goal of all of this being the ability to redesign your villagers’ homes back on the island? Excellent.
About that Update
However, even without the DLC, the 2.0 update for New Horizons is no slouch either. Tons of item have been added. Some are entirely new and others are old favorites that we have been missing, such as the Rococo Furniture Set and the illustrious Froggy Chair! Also returning are gyroids, though these are going to be something that is slow to collect if you’re against time travelling. You can really only get one a day per person on your island. You see, in order to get one, you have to take a boat ride to an island with Kapp’n, dig up the gyroid fragments there, bring them back to town, bury them, water them, and dig them up the next day for your gyroid. You can only take one boat ride a day with Kapp’n, though, which makes the whole thing kind of slow. However, it makes sense as Kapp’n’s mystery islands that he can take you to are much more valuable than than the mystery islands of the airport. His islands can be in a different season than yours, a different time of day, or have different plant life. I didn’t need to buy any of the new tomato plants, since he took me to an island that gave me a whole bunch.
Oh yeah, farming has been expanded from the groundwork laid by pumpkins last year to have a whole host of new veggies and ingredients. Watering a large garden is fairly tedious, admittedly, but well worth it to get cooking. Cooking isn’t necessary, but it is fun. It functions on the same crafting recipe system that has been in the game since launch, but now uses the new ingredients along with a kitchen stove in order to bring dishes to life. Excitingly, some of these dishes can be discovered just by fishing up a new fish or something of that nature, which brings back a little of the old thrill from early on in playing the game. However, there’s not much to do with this food once you cook it. It can be eaten like your island fruit for a stronger effect than the fruits, but if you’re anything like me, it’s more likely to just end up as a decoration on one of your house’s tables. Thank goodness it doesn’t spoil.
The Roost is back as well and adds… well, nothing at all! It’s just Brewster being back to serve up some brew and a spot to have some more dialog with some of the characters. That being said, it’s a nice little addition of flavor to the game and not the only update that the museum is getting. Now you can also get a special decoration to signify that you have completed one of the collections in the museum, a great touch for those who kept wondering if they really actually had all those fossils or not, and a nice reward to be able to tangibly display in your home.
The Beachfront Getaway
Overall, this is more Animal Crossing: New Horizons for those who want it and brings back some much loved features that you might have missed alongside it! If you didn’t like New Horizons, this isn’t going to be the update and DLC for you, but it’s actually a great value for those who are interested. The DLC might seem pricy, but when considering that it’s really a sequel to Happy Home Designer tacked on to New Horizons at just over half the price of the game it’s following up on? Yeah, that’s pretty dang good. There’s tons of content here to enjoy if you’re someone who loves the decorating aspect of these games. However, if you’re just here for fishing, bug catching, or bell chasing ventures like those, you might be able to pass on it without missing much. I suggest looking at your play style and what brings you the most joy in Animal Crossing in order to make your choice. Or if you have the Expansion Pack for Nintendo Switch Online, you can just give it a try there because it is included.
- A whole swath of new design tools
- Typical charming vibes
- Carries over into the main game well
- Can’t hang anything on the new additional walls
- Gyroids are a slow to collect item
- Camera angles in your home’s sizzle reel sometimes get a little confused
Second opinions from other staff
“Hm, let me remember my first contact with Animal Crossing. It wasn’t that long ago. In fact, I had only just bought a Nintendo 3DS when I noticed the hype being made about this series of games. To make a long story short, I got a copy of New Leaf and played a bit. It didn’t click. It was tedious and not really exciting. Then Happy Home Designer was announced and released. There was the promise to collect amiibo cards as well that made me give the series another chance. This time, it clicked. There was a single purpose in each session: Design a house for a client. Make them happy. And I did. I spent way more hours in HHD than in NL. I loved all the collaborations with other iconic game series. (If you read this, Nintendo, please bring back the Monster Hunter collaboration, ok?)
So, am I happy that this gameplay returns in ACNH? You bet. I already love this expansion!” -Joachim Ziebs