By Rhiannon Botica-Wood | Contributor
After playing Animal Crossing for most of the first lockdown in 2020, it felt great to have a final update to our much-loved animal-based social simulation game. This update came in the form of the recent 2.0 and final free added to the New Horizon’s title. This wholesome game has kept many going through lockdown, but people got more disinterested as time went on.
Nintendo, however, has since added the paid Happy Home Paradise DLC as well. This near successor to the 2015 Nintendo 3DS Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, a sandbox designer game, a standalone title, outside of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Happy Home Designer had a small core fan base, but this new DLC integrates naturally into the central experience of New Horizons, giving it much-awaited depth.
Costing £22.49, the DLC content comes with a reasonable price and is easy to access from the main game. After being greeted by Lottie (a character introduced in Happy Home Designer) at the airport, you can access your ‘work’ from anywhere you go with the seaplane.
This means that Happy Home Paradise can seamlessly become a part of your Animal Crossing routine, as you are encouraged to play in small chunks at a steady pace. It does allow those who want to design for hours to do just that, with it feeling more like working on holiday in paradise, compared to the perceived relaxed mundanity of the main game.
For those interior-design challenges, there are still benefits. Playing the levels of DLC gives more design customisation opportunities in the main game. Such as the addition of partitions, the introduction of new characters and interactions, alongside new furniture, which can be bought in the DLC’s currency poki.
For older consumers, the first couple of levels may feel over explanatory, as it can feel like you do not need all things explained to you, but there should still be an understanding that it is a game for all ages. Outside of the three items required by each ‘client’, the rest of the customisable interior and exterior design is up to you.
Although there is a sense of hollow reward with all these design options in Happy Home Paradise, you are given the same amount of poki, no matter how much effort you put in. Even the photo portfolio you create is more for sharing online with like-minded designers rather than helping with any score, which means you may lose the incentive to keep playing the game. Unlike the main game’s Happy House Academy ranking system for your own house, which utilises the art of Feng Shui and colour coordination to encourage you to change your layout and furniture in exchange for a higher score.
Overall, the Happy Home Paradise DLC is good for what it set out to be, which is a design game at heart, using characters you may not have had the opportunity to invite to your main island, and it also gives you the freedom to design how you please. However, it lacks personality and may feel too accessible to some players, who may prefer the other aspects of the New Horizon’s update, such as Kapp’n, the cooperative on Harv’s Island and Brewster, which are more akin to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.