Tom Nook is always there. Always. He’s an omnipresent individual. Every Animal Crossing player falls under his jurisdiction in the mainstream installments, so it’s only fitting that every new Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer player finds themselves in his employ as well. He’s the first thing you see upon starting the game, a businessman so prominent he can’t even remember his new hire’s name, gender, or face. I suppose that’s the cost of success!
Okay, I’m ragging on my new boss a bit. Nook isn’t so bad in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Mainly because he’s never there. His various business ventures are so profitable that he only stops in when necessary and mainly is out playing golf all day. It’s the other members of the staff that help, with Lottie the otter offering the most assistance. She’s the niece of Lyle, who has apparently left his job with the Happy Room Academy to join Nook’s Homes too. Though, considering Digby is there too, it’s possible Nook has secretly owned the Happy Room Academy and Happy Home Showcase all along, and has only decided to merge all of the branches into Nook’s Homes now.
My apologies for the side-tracking. Anyway, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer follows a certain sort of principle. If you’re the sort of person who plays games like Animal Crossing and The Sims and derives the most joy out of interior and exterior decorating, rather than the whole life simulation situation, this is the kind of game for you. Immediately after coming to Nook’s Homes, Lottie was told to show me the ropes and help make me into the company’s next big designer.
The first task is an introductory design challenge. The upper screen shows the layout of the room, while the bottom offers a map and boxes and circles representing pieces of furniture. The style is used on the touch screen to browse through catalogs of items, place them in the room, tap to rotate them, and alter positions. Each animal will have a certain theme for their room. For example, my test involved putting together a lovely, cute room. The mystery client had a few items from the Lovely furniture set designated as mandatory inclusions, and these had to be incorporated in the final design.
As for the reveal? It was Lottie’s room all along! She was so busy with work, she hadn’t had time to decorate. I was rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing I’d done the job well, though it’s really impossible not to in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. There’s no way to fail.
I learned this with my first real client, Goldie. When I got back to the office, I was immediately put to work. (Maybe Lottie is more like Nook than she seems?)
Goldie is a real bookworm. She wanted a home where she could be surrounded by books. Since this was only my first gig, I didn’t have fancy options that would let me decorate the exterior and yard, change the home’s layout, refurbish items to change their appearance, place ceiling decorations, or change the look of doors and windows, but the basics were still enough to put together a library of a room. She had a huge bookcase and two piles of books she wanted in the room, but those were the only limitations placed on me.
Which is encouraging, because it allows for more creativity. Goldie and other customers won’t really care if the rest of the furniture matches their theme. Sure, they’ll show some emotions, like shock or love, if you happen to grab something from the catalog that they favor or don’t care for, but that doesn’t factor into any sort of grade at the end. Plus, it’s impossible to end an assignment without placing their two to three prized possessions in the room. Even if you delete them, you’ll have to pluck new ones from the catalog at the end. No matter what happens, you’ll make the customer happy and get a new emotion in the end.
With my training done and both Goldie and Lottie satisfied, it was time to call it a day. Unlike Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer doesn’t take place in real-time. Each assignment, be it decorating a home or facility, takes up an entire day. Returning to the office at the end of the day and filing the report (saving) automatically ends one day and queues up the next. Which means another day of making the animals of city and their homes happy.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is coming to the Nintendo 3DS on September 25.