Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is the first Nintendo game to use amiibo cards, trading cards with NFC technology built in for games with too many possible characters to make NFC figures feasible. Given his reputation, I expected Tom Nook to show up, pushing the collectibles. Instead, it was my first client who happened to ask me about the technology. Why yes, Goldie. I do have some Animal Crossing amiibo cards.
I’m sure the dog was asking me about the Lottie amiibo card that’s the pack-in with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer for the Nintendo 3DS. But I, being the weird that I am, had already imported a single pack of the cards from Japan to see what the fuss was about. The initial experience was simple. To show how they’d work when visiting a client’s home, Goldie made it possible for me to tap a card to the screen by pressing a button so I could invite Portia and Octavian to visit her new place.
Animals visiting in this method aren’t exactly talkative. While the character whose home it is will have quite a bit to say to a player, amiibo card visitors are limited to whistles. It’s sad, really. Still,it does provide quite the opportunity for photo ops.
However, I didn’t get to start using these amiibo cards to customize homes in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer right away. Goldie’s query was a taste of what they could do. I had to design a town school for Isabelle, my first facility, and put together a home for Carrie that actually had me picking out a plot of land, deciding the look of the house, organizing the outside, and furnishing the indoors before the game decided I was ready to answer the call of the cards.
That wasn’t my attempt to put together some fancy turn of phrase. It took two in-game days for Lyle, who must secretly be a genius, to develop the amiibo phone. It may look like a Fisher-Price Chatter Phone, but selecting the amiibo phone allows a NFC card to be read to bring a specific client to Nook’s Home.
Imagine my delight when I chose Octavian as my first “victim” and discovered he wanted a Splatoon-themed home. Well, that isn’t exactly what he said, but when he requests “A squid-showdown citadel,” the house starts out covered in paint-splatters, and there’s some urban and aquatic required furniture inside, it’s safe to assume that maybe Octavian has some Octoling acquaintances. (Would it be rude to ask him about the Great Turf War of 2015?)
When an amiibo card is scanned in to provide immediate access to a client, the meeting and arrangement proceeds in a manner identical to a standard appointment. The animal is added to your client list, just like ones you’d pick up in-game by stepping outside of Nook’s Homes to see who’s gathered on the street. You can then visit them at any time from the client list or submit the home you designed for them to the Happy Home Network. As a bonus, characters you have collected amiibo cards for in real life do show up as having been collected in the client list, so you can use that to keep track of your collection.
While Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer did take the opportunity to educate me about amiibo cards twice within the first two hours of play, it was refreshing to see that they aren’t required to enjoy the game. Each in-game day, it seemed three to four animals would be waiting outside of Nook’s Homes. Apparently, my avatar is a telepath, because approaching them allows me to see their thoughts as to what kind of home they may want. I could then use that information, as well as my personal preferences as to how much I did or didn’t like that particular character, to determine if I should make their dreams a reality that day.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and its corresponding amiibo cards will be released for the Nintendo 3DS on September 25. You’ll need either a New 3DS or the bundle that includes a NFC reader to use the cards with the game.