Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
North American box art
|Release date(s)|| July 30, 2015|
September 25, 2015[nb 1]
October 2, 2015
October 3, 2015
|Media||Nintendo 3DS Game Card|
|File size||3,786 Blocks[nb 2]|
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a sandbox game for the Nintendo 3DS released in 2015. It is a spin-off entry in the Animal Crossing series where the player designs homes for clients. It is also the first entry in the series to be compatible with amiibo, utilizing a series of Animal Crossing amiibo cards that were released alongside the game.
In Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, the player works for Nook's Homes and takes on clients who request a home to be designed for them. The game's visuals share a similar graphical style with Animal Crossing: New Leaf and most of the assets brought over from that title remain seemingly unchanged in appearance. However, despite similar visuals, Happy Home Designer's core gameplay is vastly different from other Animal Crossing games.
While previous titles focused on an open-ended playstyle, Happy Home Designer takes a specific gameplay element, interior design, and expands upon it to create a unique Animal Crossing experience. The game achieves this through its new user interface which turns the bottom screen of the Nintendo 3DS into a top-down floor planner where the player can easily manipulate objects in the room using the stylus. An expansive catalog is also included and features a new categorization system that groups together items of a similar theme or function. As the player completes more of the villagers' requests, additional items are unlocked. Happy Home Designer also allows players to decorate the immediate surroundings outside a client's home by placing furniture and greenery, a feature that would play a prominent role in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
In keeping with other Animal Crossing titles, Happy Home Designer allows the player to customize their character according to their tastes and is the first game in the series to allow the player to permanently set their skin color. In previous titles, darker skin could only be obtained by tanning and would fade unless properly maintained. All of the available hair colors and styles from New Leaf are brought over, although the hairstyles are gender-specific; female players cannot initially choose male-designated hairstyles. The player can also choose their eye shape and color at the beginning of the game. Unlike previous titles, the player's initial suit is permanent and cannot be changed, however, other articles of clothing can be changed and do not conform to the character's gender.
Along with the announcement of the game, physical Animal Crossing-themed cards featuring various characters from New Leaf were revealed. The cards are a more portable form of amiibo that can be used with the game to design a house for the character on the card. The cards can also be used to invite characters to visit homes the player has designed, where the player can watch and take pictures of the villagers interacting with one another. The cards can be scanned directly using the New Nintendo 3DS's built-in NFC reader. For owners of the standard 3DS and 2DS, a separate NFC reader will be released alongside the game and cards to ensure compatibility. Happy Home Designer is also compatible with the Villager amiibo, and when scanned will unlock a Villager Statue, an exclusive furniture item that can be used to decorate villager homes.
amiibo functionality is accessed within the game through the use of the amiibo phone, and cannot be used when a work day has been finished. The game will only recognize Animal Crossing amiibo figures and cards from the original four amiibo card series. Attempting to scan an amiibo from outside the Animal Crossing series yields the message, "Beep! I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't connect with any animals who don't live in this town." Attempting to scan a card from the Welcome amiibo series freezes the game. This includes Carrie's amiibo card, despite her being a client within the game.
Happy Home Designer was produced by Aya Kyogoku and Hisashi Nogami, with direction credits by Isao Moro, and was the first Animal Crossing title to have a female producer, the second title being Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, also produced by Kyogoku. It was also the first time that Katsuya Eguchi, series creator, producer of Animal Crossing: Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf, and director of all previous Animal Crossing titles, did not play a lead role in development. Co-producer Hisashi Nogami, who served as director for nearly every Animal Crossing title at the time, made his return to the series after his absence during Animal Crossing: New Leaf's development period[nb 3]
In an interview with USgamer, Happy Home Designer producer Aya Kyogoku stated that Nintendo's amiibo line played a primary role in the title's development, going so far as to say that the title was created for the sole purpose of generating a set of Animal Crossing amiibo in the process: "Honestly, we just wanted Animal Crossing amiibo. We wanted the company to make Animal Crossing amiibo, so that's why we made a game that works with them."
According to Kyogoku, the inspiration for the interior design gameplay element came from the development team's experience designing villager homes in previous games, imagining how these villagers live out their lives, and thinking about how it would be fun to share that experience with the player. The team also focused on allowing the player to bring their unique vision into each design, and while a budget limit had been taken into consideration at some point in the development cycle, it was decided that it would be best not to impose any external limitations on the player's design choices. 
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer was announced alongside Animal Crossing amiibo cards in a Nintendo Direct on April 1, 2015, in which gameplay was shown off and a release window of fall 2015 was revealed.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer was released in Japan on July 30, 2015, and it was released internationally two months later, on September 25 in North America, on October 2 in Europe, and on October 3 in Australia. More gameplay was shown at Nintendo's Digital Event at E3 2015, along with the final North American release date of September 25, 2015.
Bundles, special edition console, and faceplates
Nintendo of Japan announced in a May 31, 2015 Nintendo Direct that Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer would be launching in several formats.[dead link] Game bundles included a special edition New Nintendo 3DS XL with a pre-installed copy of Happy Home Designer on a 4 GB micro SDHC card at an MSRP of ¥22,000, and a physical Happy Home Designer bundle with NFC Reader accessory included at an MSRP of ¥5,000. Both bundles launched alongside the standalone physical release of Happy Home Designer and special edition New Nintendo 3DS cover plates in Japan on July 30, 2015.
Nintendo of Europe announced their regional bundles on June 27, 2015. In addition to the special edition New Nintendo 3DS XL and NFC bundle released in Japan, Europe also received a white New Nintendo 3DS bundle with Happy Home Designer cover plates. Pre-orders for the various bundles went live on August 13, 2015. Those who ordered from Nintendo Store UK also received a Happy Home Designer Nintendo 3DS Kit which included a universal system case, three styluses, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. Additional "packs" were also available that included Cover Plate 05, Cover Plate 06, the Animal Crossing amiibo cards Collectors Album, or the European-exclusive Cover Plate 27 in addition to one of the console bundles.
In North America, Happy Home Designer coincided with the release of the New Nintendo 3DS in the region, with a special New Nintendo 3DS bundle with Cover Plates themed after Isabelle. Another bundle included the Nintendo 3DS NFC Reader/Writer.
Nintendo partnered with Japanese 7-Eleven stores and Capcom to release exclusive villagers and themed furniture for Happy Home Designer. On August 18, 2015, a goodbye message from Isabelle was posted to the official Animal Crossing Twitter account stating that Lottie would be taking over the account for the time being.
In North America GameStop held a promotion where those who pre-ordered the game would receive an exclusive poster.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Nintendo Life and IGN were mostly positive, praising the game's designer tools and sandbox nature, but criticizing it for a lack of challenge or a sense of progression. GameSpot was more critical of the game, criticizing the lack of content present in main series Animal Crossing games, while also sharing the criticisms of its challenge. On Metacritic, the game received an aggregated score of 66 out of 100, from 60 critic reviews.
- Metacritic (aggregate) – 66/100
- IGN – 8/10
- GameSpot – 5/10
- GameRadar+ – 4/5
- Nintendo Life – 7/10
According to a weekly sales report by Media Create, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer sold 523,000 units in Japan during its first four days of release, selling through 76.29% of its initial shipment.  In comparison, Animal Crossing: New Leaf sold over 600,000 units during its launch window with a sell-through rate of 96.09%. Happy Home Designer topped the weekly charts again in its second and third week of sale, moving an additional 181,377 and 140,235 units respectively before dropping to second place in its fourth and fifth week with sales of 65,904 and 48,978 units respectively. As of the week ending August 30, 2015 the game had a lifetime total of 959,049 copies sold in Japan. As part of their earnings release statement, Nintendo reported sales of 3.04 million units for Happy Home Designer during the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2016.
Names in other languages
- Nintendo. "どうぶつの森 ハッピーホームデザイナー". nintendo.co.jp. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Nintendo (September 14, 2015). "Nintendo Digital Event @ E3 2015". YouTube. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Nintendo of America. "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer for Nintendo 3DS - Nintendo Game Details". nintendo.com. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Nintendo of Europe. "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer". nintendo.co.uk. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Nintendo Australia. "Animal Crossing - Happy Home Designer". nintendo.com.au. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Jeremy Parish (July 9, 2015). ""Honestly, we just wanted Animal Crossing Amiibo": Nintendo's Aya Kyogoku on Evolving The Series". USgamer.
- Mitch Vogel (June 25, 2015). "Animal Crossing Director Talks More About Happy Home Designer and amiibo". Nintendo Life.
- Nintendo (April 1, 2015). "Nintendo Direct 4.1.2015". YouTube.
- Kevin McMinn (May 31, 2015). "Animal Crossing New 3DS XL Announced for Japan". Nintendo News. Archived from the original on January 13, 2017.
- Nintendo of Europe (July 27, 2015). "Happy days on Nintendo 3DS with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer". nintendo.co.uk.
- Alex Seedhouse (August 13, 2015). "Animal Crossing amiibo Card pre-orders open on Nintendo Official UK Store". Nintendo Insider. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016.
- Nintendo of America. "Buy Now - Animal Crossing™: Happy Home Designer for Nintendo 3DS". animal-crossing.com. Archived from the original on October 28, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Nintendo. "どうぶつの森 ハッピーホームデザイナー オリジナルキャラクター＆アイテム配信決定！". nintendo.co.jp. Archived from the original on August 18, 2015.
- Justin (2015). "Exclusive Art Poster with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer pre-order at GameStop". Animal Crossing World. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Damien McFerran (September 22, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review". Nintendo Life. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Kallie Plagge (September 22, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review". IGN. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Justin Haywald (October 16, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review". GameSpot. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer for 3DS Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Daniella Lucas (September 22, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Review". Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- Alex Irish (August 9, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Dominates Japanese Sales Charts". Archived from the original on August 15, 2015.
- Alex Seedhouse (August 12, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer success continues in Japan". Nintendo Insider. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015.
- Alex Seedhouse (August 20, 2015). "Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer unchallenged in Japanese sales chart". Nintendo Insider. Archived from the original on June 21, 2016.
- MCV Staff (August 26, 2015). "Super Robots overthrow animals as Animal Crossing slips to second place in the Japanese charts". MCV/DEVELOP.
- Sal Romano (September 2, 2015). "Media Create Sales: 8/24/15 – 8/30/15". Gematsu.
- Nintendo (April 27, 2016). "Consolidated Results for the Years Ended March 31, 2015 and 2016".