Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Game Poster Image
Cute, accessible home-design sim in popular series.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about designing and creating buildings, as well as the needs of working with and budgeting virtual money (when buying items for a villager). Players also are exposed to different designs and tastes. They're rewarded for helping others, including getting a sense of community and citizenship by working on decorating public facilities such as schools and hospital. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer takes a positive spin on house and community building, placing it in a fun, friendly package.

Positive Messages

Focuses on designing homes, inside and out, socializing with characters. Also decorating public institutions, such as a school, hospital, other facilities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There isn't one character in particular, but rather, dozens of animals, other human townsfolk to take control over. Kids can also use amiibo cards to unlock other villagers in the game.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence & Scariness

Works with optional amiibo cards that must be purchased separately, based on Nintendo's popular Animal Crossing series of games for multiple platforms.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a design simulator that's appropriate for players of all ages. Players control their favorite Animal Crossing villagers to decorate their homes and other facilities in the town. There isn't any controversial content at all with this cartoon-like building simulation. Parents should be aware that this is part of a long-running popular franchise across multiple systems, and characters and locations are unlockable by purchasing additional amiibo cards, which are sold separately.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. March 27, 2020

Not as good as it’s predecessor New Leaf...

It’s a game that is ok if you are a hard core fan who must play every game in the series. But for those who already own New Leaf but aren’t obsessed with the fr... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySn0WzZ August 16, 2020

It's not deep, it's boring

If this was like a DLC pack for New Leaf, it would've been better. In a normal Animal Crossing game, you can go fishing, dig for fossils, talk to villagers... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBadgersRool October 14, 2019

Lackluster, but there is some imaginative in the designing if you look in the right places

This game is literally pointless unless you have a very great imagination or free time. Designing houses is fun at first, then after awhile it gets very boring.... Continue reading

What's it about?

ANIMAL CROSSING: HAPPY HOME DESIGNER takes Nintendo's Animal Crossing series into a Sims-like "design and decorate" direction. Your goal is to dress up the inside and outside of your villagers' homes with items and do the same in public institutions such as hospitals, school classrooms, and tea rooms. There are more than 300 villagers in the game to give you the mission at hand, which means you might need to acquire what they want, in a given theme, place it in the room, and perhaps change the color and/or design. What's more, the game supports amiibo cards, sold separately, which add new characters, locations, and missions when tapped on the New Nintendo 3DS XL system (as it has built-in NFC) or via an NFC reader/writer accessory for other Nintendo 2DS and 3DS machines.

Is it any good?

It's incredibly rewarding to complete jobs for these cute animal friends, plus you'll be forced to use different styles, objects, and colors to keep things fresh. Also worth noting is the online "Happy Home Network," where you can upload the houses and buildings you’ve designed, visit other people’s properties, and rate them (if desired). You'll also be inspired to go back to your own handiwork and tweak it. Unlike other Animal Crossing games, you don't have your own place to call home, which is disappointing. Perhaps the developers could have given you a place to decorate and provided a reason to do so: maybe with villagers who drop in for special assignments? Though it feels like this feature is missing -- and there isn't a role-playing game-like progression system to quantify your achievements -- the fun and fresh gameplay is worth your efforts. Overall, this game is based on construction rather than destruction, focuses on creativity and exploration, and cleverly adds fun amiibo cards to an already stellar simulation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the growing trends to market to kids by fusing the digital with the physical. Are games such as Skylanders, Disney Infinity, LEGO: Dimensions, Leapfrog's Imagicards, and Nintendo's amiibo characters and cards ways to extend the fun outside of the game? Or are they simply a way to get parents to spend more money?

  • How different are the characters in the game from the people you interact with in real life? What do you think a real town would be like if all the residents acted like the characters in the game?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love simulations

Themes & Topics

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