Backlog Review: Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise (Switch)

A stirring addition that brings a wealth of engaging new content to the game!

By Achi Ikeda. Posted 01/10/2022 19:30 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Easy, intuitive design controls; a large catalogue for customization; and vast creative control
Poison Mushroom for...
Limited facilities to design; you can’t jump right back into the game, but must load New Horizons first

Welcome to another Backlog Review, where we take a look at an older game that fans might have sitting waiting to be played or are still considering giving a purchase. This time we’re looking at the Happy Home Paradise DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

When Animal Crossing New Horizons gameplay footage was finally released, I was so so excited and relieved to see that many of the design gameplay elements from Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (HHD)were brought back. That Animal Crossing 3DS spin off introduced many innovative design features to the Animal Crossing series that made interior decorating loads easier and loads more fun. Many of the interior decorating features that are “new” to New Horizons were actually introduced in HDD. For those who haven’t played it, HHD was the first to use decorating from an external perspective with a floor plan allowing you to drag and drop furniture, rather than slowly dragging furniture from your villager’s point of view. It also introduced outdoor decorating, new furniture, and furniture that hangs from the ceiling!

However, HHD wasn’t perfect. Though I loved the game and it hugely improved my Animal Crossing interior decorating skills by challenging me to think outside the box, there were features that came to mind that I was disappointed that weren’t on offer. HHD didn’t pay you for your work and gave you no home of your own to decorate. Both of which I thought would have made the game feel complete. Especially given that there were so many new furniture items. This eventually gave the game a lack of progression and reduced my motivation to keep playing.

So imagine my excitement when Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise DLC was released. Everything that made the original spin off game fantastic, yet this time around you get paid in the new, flexible, delicious-sounding currency called Poki! What makes it so special is that it allows you to buy the new furniture introduced in the DLC and order any furniture you unlock in your entire catalogue to incorporate into your new designs!

Happy Home Paradise (HHP) has you acquire a part time job at Paradise Planning. It’s a company that pays you to design vacation homes for the seemingly limitless roster of Animal Crossing characters. Each animal has their own vision for their vacation home and a few required pieces of furniture. Other than that, you have complete creative freedom! And it is a lot of freedom. There are a plethora of customization options that can make each vacation home a distinct and memorable work of art.

As you first begin, your catalogue of furniture and design options are limited. “Limited” when compared to all the design options and skills you ultimately gain throughout the course of HHP, but as HHP progresses the available tools and options will seem perfect when first starting out. The designing process begins as you choose where the animal’s vacation home should be located. There is a range of environments in different climates to choose from. From there, you will cultivate the landscape around the home, the exterior of the house, and, of course, the interior. As you progress, you will learn new design skills that were not included in the base game such as polishing furniture, changing the dimensions of the rooms, controlling the lighting, and altering the time of day. The sky really isn’t the limit in Happy Home Paradise.

Progress is measured by how many vacation homes you design — and don’t worry, as long as you include the required furniture in the vacation home, your customers will love whatever you design for them. As the game advances, the other staff members of Paradise Planning, Niko the peppy, adorable monkey and Wardell the shy, lovable Manatee, will teach you new techniques, while Lottie will introduce additional game features such as designing facilities or sharing your creations online.

Designing facilities, like a school or cafe, is a returning aspect, and after designing numerous vacation homes, each new facility feels like a treat. And since they are such a treat, it’s a slight disappointment that there are so few of them. I have to remind myself, this is DLC after all and not a full game. But even so, there could have been so many fun potential facilities to design.

Other features Lottie introduces to you as you progress are the Happy Home Network and the amiibo scanner. The Happy Home Network is a phone app on your Nook phone that lets you quickly visit the vacation homes you’ve designed to just say hi or make some changes with your newly acquired skills or updated furniture catalogue. Visiting some of the first homes and giving them a remodel is a great way to see how you have grown as a designer. The Happy Home Network is also a place to share a select number of vacation homes or facilities you design, or view designs by other players. Be awed by other player’s design visions, laugh at some humorous photos, or get some inspiration. You can also follow friends and your favorite designers to see what new homes they create.

Sometimes, multiple villagers have a similar vision. It might sound tedious to design a similar vacation home multiple times, especially if it is in a style you might not be too found of. There are only so many athletic or gym-themed vacation homes I am willing to design. Luckily, HHP has a remedy for this – roommates! You are still required to use both villager’s requested furniture, but you can mesh their ideas into a home they can share.

Now, that all said, HHP isn’t perfect. This may sound like more of a problem with my patience rather than a true criticism of the game, but because HHP is DLC, I have to load up New Horizons, listen to Isabelle’s announcements, head to the airport, board a plane, and talk to Lottie before all before I can start designing homes. And of course, the odds are I will also check out Nook’s Cranny and the Able Sisters first because I must know if either stores are selling something I don’t yet own. And then I’ll feel obligated to check who is visiting town. Oh, and clear up some weeds! Knowing I can’t just select Animal Crossing and jump right into HHP can sometimes make me hesitant to play if I don’t have at least an hour of time set aside.

Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise takes all that was innovative, fun, and satisfying from the original Happy Home Designer, fixes what made the game complete, and expands on the original game altogether creating a DLC expansion that, despite a few set backs, is well worth it for any owner of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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