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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise

The first and only paid expansion for Nintendo's life-sim title expands the game significantly and kept us glued for hours and hours.

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In 2015 Nintendo tried an alternative path in Animal Crossing, creating a spin-off game for the series entirely dedicated to home design. The game was called, not surprisingly, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and it allowed the players to test their creative talent, furnishing the homes of our fellow citizens or renovating public buildings.

Despite being an interesting experiment on Nintendo's part, Happy Home Designer quickly became quite monotonous, making the designer experience for its own sake completely disconnected from the main game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It was a standalone game, even quite expensive, for Nintendo 3DS that, in the long run, didn't offer much (you can read our review for an idea).

But you know: Nintendo doesn't leave any stone unturned and when they released Happy Home Designer they had probably already foreseen everything for the future of their franchise. After the unprecedented success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons - which was undoubtedly one of the most played games last year, also thanks to the restrictions and different lockdowns due to Covid-19 - the Japanese company has decided to play an important card, and try, this time to exploit the Happy Home Designer concept in a more constructive way.

Since November 5th, the first (and only, according to Nintendo) New Horizons' premium DLC is available, called, not surprisingly, Happy Home Paradise. At a cost of £22.49 / €24.99 (or free, if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription + Expansion Pack), Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise is much more than just an add-on. By integrating perfectly with the main game, this DLC immediately reveals itself as a very profound and full of opportunity addition.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Before we start talking in detail about Happy Home Paradise, we want to spend a few words on the new free 2.0 update available in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It must be downloaded before installing Happy Home Paradise as it prepares the ground for the DLC, adding many important innovations. By itself, Update 2.0 can be considered an add-on in itself, since it brings a massive amount of content to the base game that, alone, offers many hours of fun. First of all, Brewster's café, which is located inside the Museum of the Island.

In order for Brewster to open his café, the player must meet some basic requirements, that is, she/he must have at least 60 objects inside the Museum and an art gallery is required. But since you are an avid Animal Crossing player, we are confident that you will be able to open your own café without any problems.

And then there is Kapp'n, a nice character who can take us around other islands with its boat to collect new resources, including completely unknown flora that can be brought to our island. And if that's not enough by itself, our hippie friend Harvey also has some important news. If you reach its island, you discover that the character, helped by a friend named Harriet, intends to open an outdoor market and your task is to help him to find bells so that his wish can be fulfilled. In fact, the shops of Kicks, Redd and Saharah will arrive there - shoe shop, art shop and carpet shop respectively - as well as the Cyrus and Reese shop, which offers players truly exclusive furniture customisation options. Finally, there will also be the banquet of the visionary Katrina and the new hairdressing shop, managed by Harriet.

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Among the other great innovations introduced by the 2.0 update, there's also a new cooking laboratory that allows you to prepare tasty dishes with new recipes based on potatoes, wheat, sugar cane and carrots; finally, the possibility of issuing ordinances (a feature already present in New Leaf), in which to decide to extend the opening of the island's activities until late at night or to invite the islanders to keep the city tidy and clean.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Although this free content alone adds a massive dose of new important features that offers significant longevity, Happy Home Paradise is its flagship. Once the DLC is installed, the player is informed by Tom Nook to go to the airport to introduce himself to Lottie, the owner of an agency committed to building "vacation homes" in an archipelago full of different atolls, each with different biomes. After reaching Lottie's office with Dodo Airlines, the player is offered to become a partner of the agency and find some new customers for it. In short, enough with the bucolic life on the island, made up of fishing and hunting for insects and fossils: the time has come to roll up your sleeves and work for real!

After a short tutorial, we are launched into our first real estate operation. After finding a potential customer, this illustrates to the player the essential items he/she would like to find inside his/her holiday home, as well as the location and the climatic season he/she prefers. This is possible because each atoll of which the small archipelago is made up has different biomes and seasons, which allow us to understand the real needs of your customer. Once you have found the right place, the fun begins as the player is left with total freedom of action on how to decorate the interior and exterior of the house. While it's necessary to meet the requirements of the three objects requested by the customer, the rest is left completely to the player's hands.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

During our playtime, for example, we created a real ice castle (Frozen, we're watching you!), with floors and walls, as well as various objects, inspired by the worlds of ice for our penguin guest, who longed for a small relaxation house completely immersed in the cold. Just like one of our alligator customer, Alli, an autumn lover, who wanted a décor completely inspired by mushrooms; from there, after meeting the minimum requirements, we literally indulged ourselves in creating a small cottage that suited our buyer's wishes.

Finally, once we have finished our work, it's possible to take some shots of our design work to be included in the Lottie's digital catalogue, kept in the archive on our Nook Phone. Later, thanks to this app, players can visit previous customers in order to meet new needs, such as changing furnishings, selling the property or simply receiving small rewards for the work done so carefully. Clearly, no one works for free: in fact, for your well-deserved work as a designer, Lottie pays you a salary, however in a different currency than the bells, called poki. Although you cannot spend them on our island, poki currency can be used to make purchases on Lottie's Island and buy a series of unique objects and projects, which can then be used to furnish your home or create new projects.

The amount of things to do and content that Happy Home Paradise has is truly incredible, as well as offering unprecedented longevity. Compared to Happy Home Designer, Paradise integrates perfectly with New Horizons' dynamics, expands its boundaries and gives the expansion a real purpose. It's nice to take the plane every morning and go to work to satisfy the most absurd requests of your customers, also because - just like a blank sheet - the player has total freedom of creation in every project.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The tool is very simple to use, but at the same time deep and layered to satisfy those players who have an unexpressed interior decorator soul in real life. And without too many spoilers, in addition to furnishing the homes of vacationers, the new Island also offers many opportunities with local buildings, which can be used for additional services. The fact of no longer being "trapped" on your own island, and therefore having the opportunity to move between the islets and give meaning to your days, in addition to simply and only living, is satisfying and allows the game to constantly reinvent itself.

Although we had some small concerns about Happy Home Paradise, probably because Happy Home Designer in 2015 had not fully satisfied us, we are really ready to take it back. Combined with the new free update, this add-on dramatically expands the potential of a game that, once again, is capable of keeping us glued for hours and hours. Challenging, creative and satisfying, Happy Home Paradise is the addition that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was missing. It gives the player an extra purpose beyond just living peacefully on your island; just like in real life, where we are gradually returning to normal life, it's right that the player leaves his/her happy island to get back into the game. And start from scratch to make sense of his/her existence.

Animal Crossing: New HorizonsAnimal Crossing: New Horizons
09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
+
Long-lived, fun, deep add-on. Lots of new content, which serves a purpose and expands Animal Crossing experience for real. Fun for hours and hours. Give space to your creative soul!
-
Some dialogue options are redundant and need to be streamlined a bit.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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