Animal Crossing is simply one of those titles Nintendo fans crave every generation. When New Horizons first released in March 2020, it took the world by storm. Most of us were in lockdown and it provided the perfect escape from reality people needed at the time. Now the best selling title in the Animal Crossing series, New Horizons is receiving its first paid downloadable content. 

Check out what we thought in our review!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise
Nintendo Switch
Developed by Nintendo
Published by Nintendo
Released: 5/11/2021
Digital copy provided by Nintendo UK

The idea of having a job in Animal Crossing is something I have wanted for a long time. Of course in older entries of the series, you would be given tasks and things to do while paying off the initial loan from Nook, but it never scratched that itch for me. Now with the Happy Home Paradise DLC, that dream is a reality. Arriving on a new island, which will act as a hub world, you will take on the role of Paradise Planner in exchange for a currency known as Poki, which can be spent on furniture to be used on your own island.  

For your first shift on the job, the initial task at hand is to go upstairs and pick your uniform. Making yourself appear as a smarmy sales rep in a Hawaiian tee and chino shorts with sunglasses really makes you feel the part. You will be automatically changed into whatever uniform you pick each time you start work, whilst also carrying a clipboard. As a member of staff for ‘Paradise Planning’, it is your job to speak to villagers on a brand new island and find them their dream home in the archipelago of islands available. Homes vary from mountain tops, to desert islands to beaches. Once a home has been chosen, you can set the season to really customise the vibe you are going for. This is perfect for capturing the essence of a cosy little coffee house in the middle of winter or an autumnal landscape perfect for a villager who simply loves mushrooms.  

When I personally first saw the DLC announcement, I wasn’t too excited. Having played the spin-off title Happy Home Designer on the Nintendo 3DS, where the DLC clearly draws its inspiration, the game felt shallow and that there was no real reward for spending time fulfilling requests. However, being a part of a mainline Animal Crossing title and not a spin-off has worked wonders for the “Happy Home” style of gameplay. Spending half an hour on a villager’s house and then getting rewarded with Poki to spend on furniture for my actual home on my island is the pay-off the original Happy Home Designer lacked so desperately. As if Animal Crossing: New Horizons wasn’t already enough of a time-sink, I have spent hours designing the perfect home for many villagers whilst my own continues to remain neglected with no theme or hard work put into it at all. 

As an employee for Paradise Planning, you will approach villagers on the beach of this new island and sell them the dream of their own island home. Each individual will have an idea of what they are looking for and this will display as a thought bubble as you approach them (finally, a sequence in Animal Crossing which doesn’t involve mashing the A button to find what you needed!). When you have picked an island home for them, you will both travel there and you can begin decorating. Once you arrive inside the home, three items will appear in boxes that match the theme of the villager’s request. 

It is a bit disappointing that there does not appear to be any kind of ranking system for how well you keep to the demands of the villager. As long as you place the initial three items anywhere in the room, they will be happy that their request is fulfilled and you can move on. Most of the satisfaction will come from you as an individual and how proud of your own work you are. I thought this was going to be a killer for me, but in fact I enjoyed the freedom to do what I wanted. Once you enter the sandbox-esque mode to decorate the home, you will be provided with a category titled “Order” which is full of suggested items to fit the specific theme, but you are also free to explore many more options and decorate however you like. It can actually be incredibly fun having this freedom despite there being no reward for harder work. Whilst optional, decorating the outside can be just as enjoyable to put the cherry on the cake of the theme you are working towards. This DLC will be as entertaining as you make it for yourself. If you are looking for a regimented, point-based process on how well you are completing a task, this is probably not for you. But if that’s the only kind of gameplay you are looking for, you probably aren’t playing Animal Crossing anyway. 

Once you feel that the decorating is complete, speaking to the client to confirm this will trigger a small montage of the villager living their best life in their new island home. It’s seriously cute and something I enjoy every time. The personality of the villagers comes to life in these moments and seamlessly viewing the house you have just decorated at all angles is a fantastic end to the sequence. You will then get the opportunity to take a photo of the villager where you may place them somewhere in the room and even change up their costume. Sadly though, the costume options are somewhat limited and are bound to get repetitive after a short while. It’s not the end of the world and I would consider it only a small feature of this DLC, but a few more options would go a long way. 

Perhaps one of the best features of this DLC is there appears to be no limits to how often you can do anything relating to this part of the game. Quite often, Animal Crossing can frustrate its players with the constant need to wait a day at a time for changes to be made or for events to happen. There is absolutely no sign of any of that in any of the new paid content which is delightful, progression is made as you serve more customers, eventually leading to a promotion and unlocking the ability to work on facilities such as the school.

One of the greatest additions to Animal Crossing arrives in this DLC, and it’s the ability to create partitions with dedicated furniture, allowing you to get really creative instead of being limited to just a box room. Not only can this be used when designing homes for clients, but the partition furniture can also be purchased for use in your own home on your island. No more do you need to use your imagination with odd-looking furniture to divide up your rooms, it can now be done in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Ultimately this DLC is not going to be for everyone. If you’re looking to change up your usual routine in Animal Crossing with some interior design and an opportunity to earn some Poki for new furniture then this will be an enjoyable new feature, albeit a little bit shallow. Paired with the 2.0 free update, Animal Crossing: New Horizons feels like a brand new game with plenty to explore which will keep players entertained for the foreseeable future. 

Final rating – 4 out of 5