Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
|Release date(s)||JP July 30, 2015|
NA September 25, 2015
EU October 2, 2015
AUS October 3, 2015
|Media||3DS Game Card and eShop download|
|Input methods||Nintendo 3DS circle pad and D-Pad|
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (どうぶつの森 ハッピーホームデザイナー, Dōbutsu no Mori: Happī Hōmu Dezainā, lit. "Animal Forest: Happy Home Designer") is a home-design simulation game developed and published by Nintendo exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was announced during a Nintendo Direct presentation on April 1, 2015, and debuted in Japan on July 30, 2015, in North America on September 25, 2015, and in Europe on October 2, 2015. The game is described as a spinoff title separate from the core Animal Crossing series and features a more relaxed play style that allows for enhanced creativity. Happy Home Designer is also the first title to make use of amiibo cards, Nintendo's latest addition to its line-up of proprietary toys-to-life collectables featuring NFC technology.
Similar to previous entries in the Animal Crossing series, the game takes place in an animal town and features a small commercial area similar to the city in Animal Crossing: City Folk. The player assumes the role of an employee working for Nook's Homes as an interior designer, taking on thematic design requests from the villagers that walk by in the game's main plaza. To aid in the design process Happy Home Designer provides an enhanced user interface and item categorization system that allows for the quick lookup and precise placement of items in both interior and exterior spaces. The game draws upon the extensive item catalog established in previous Animal Crossing iterations to furnish the homes and introduces new item categories such as carpets with customizable sizes and ceiling decor.
Happy Home Designer'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 a 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 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.
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 gold villager statue, an exclusive furniture item that can be used to decorate villager homes. 
Happy Home Designer was produced by Aya Kyogoku and Hisashi Nogami, with direction credits by Isao Moro, and is the first Animal Crossing title to have a female producer, the second title being Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, also produced by Kyogoku. It is also the first time that Katsuya Eguchi, producer of Animal Crossing: Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf, and director on all other previous Animal Crossing titles, has not played a lead role in development. Co-producer Hisashi Nogami, who has served as director for nearly every Animal Crossing title to date, makes his return to the series after his absence during Animal Crossing: New Leaf's development period (during which time he was producing Splatoon).
A hint as to Happy Home Designer's development came in March 2014 when when Animal Crossing: New Leaf producer Katsuya Eguchi stressed that the next game in the Animal Crossing series, if developed for a new console, would need to fully integrate its unique features into its design to "create a new way of playing Animal Crossing". While Happy Home Designer was ultimately released on the 3DS as a spinoff title and not as a continuation of the core Animal Crossing series, its focus on amiibo cards and the NFC capabilities of the New Nintendo 3DS is no accident. 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, even 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 game-play 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 fun it would be to share that experience with the player.  The team also focused on allowing the player to bring their own 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. 
Further details and game play were shown during Nintendo's Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015 presentation on June 16, 2015.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer was released in Japan on June 30, 2015 and was released on September 25, 2015 in North America and October 2, 2015 in Europe. It was released on October 3, 2015 in Australia due to time zones.
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. Game bundles include 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 yen, and a physical Happy Home Designer bundle with NFC Reader accessory included at an MSRP of 5,000 yen. Both bundles would launch alongside the standalone physical release of Happy Home Designer and special edition New Nintendo 3DS coverplates 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 is also receiving a white New Nintendo 3DS bundle with Happy Home Designer coverplates. Pre-orders for the various bundles went live on August 13, 2015. Those ordering from Nintendo Store UK will also receive a Happy Home Designer Nintendo 3DS Kit which includes a universal system case, three styluses and a microfiber cleaning cloth. Additional "packs" are also available that include 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.
Despite rumors of the special edition New Nintendo 3DS console making its way to North America, the only bundle made available for pre-order by retailers thus far is the Happy Home Designer NFC reader bundle.
Nintendo has partnered with Japanese 7-Eleven stores to release exclusive villagers and themed furniture compatible with Happy Home Designer. On August 18, 2015 a goodbye message from Isabelle was posted to the official Animal Crossing Twitter account @Isabelle stating that Lottie would be taking over the account for the time being.
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 30th, 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 March 31, 2016.
Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu rated Happy Home Designer 35/40. The reviewers felt the new user interface and touch controls enhanced the design experience and the ability to decorate new building types such as a school or hospital was refreshing. However, one reviewer expressed disappointment that designs were not graded and that any design submitted would receive a positive reaction from the villager who requested it, making the design experience less rewarding. IGN's Kallie Plagge praised the game for its "freedom to be creative", giving it an 8.0 "Great" score. She was however, disappointed that the player character lack a house of their own, as well as the experience sometimes feeling unrewarding. 
- For this subject's image gallery, see Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer/Gallery.
Names in other languages
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- Nintendo Direct (April 1, 2015) - YouTube @ 41:06
|Animal Crossing series|