A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, reading
Social Studies: citizenship
Hobbies: building, collecting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, strategy
Creativity: making new creations
Self-Direction: achieving goals, set objectives
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: September 25, 2015
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship
- ESRB rating: E
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.