Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise DLC review



Let’s review the expansion of the first paid DLC of Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise

The paid Happy Home Paradise expansion isn’t exactly a novel idea. Nintendo tried this route a few years ago with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer for Nintendo 3DS, which, as the subtitle suggests, was pretty much the same thing. On that occasion, however, the experiment failed for two reasons. First, it lacked all the quality-of-life improvements we’re used to today: moving from handheld to hybrid console improved interfaces, features and gameplay dynamics that made everything more accessible, fast and intuitive. Second, it lacked a real game to back it up. Happy Home Designer didn’t rely on Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but was a stand-alone title focused solely on a mechanic that perhaps wasn’t as appreciated at the time as it is now, and that was decor.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has awakened many unsuspected designers, players who may have discovered a passion for creativity only thanks to the possibilities offered in the Nintendo title. The DLC released in conjunction with the excellent update 2.0, which already alone added a lot of free content and improvements to the initial package, could not exist without a base, and it is precisely on this mutual synergy that our review of Happy Home Paradise finds a very positive feedback.

Before you begin

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, the staff of Casimira Vacanze

Before you start you need to buy the expansion. Let’s clarify, because there’s a crucial point worth making. Nintendo essentially offers two ways to buy Happy Home Paradise. The first is very straightforward: buy the DLC on the Nintendo eShop for €24.99 and that’s it. Once downloaded, it’s yours forever and will become an integral part of the software – and save – of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The second is a bit more convoluted: the DLC is in fact included in the Nintendo Switch Online + Additional Package subscription that costs 39.99 euros per year and includes, in addition to the Nintendo online service, the catalogs of Nintendo 64 and Mega Drive classics. Everyone then gives the value they want to the contents of this package, but in general it is estimated that Happy Home Paradise in this way costs about 5 euros less.

The problem is that you’re not buying it, you’re renting it. Here’s the bottom line. If you subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online + Annual Add-on Pack and then cancel the subscription, the main content of the Happy Home Paradise DLC becomes inaccessible. By main content we mean the Holiday Casimira archipelago with its “campaign,” while all the extras unlocked up to that point, such as the ability to build partitions or other Faidate schemes, can still be used in any other context of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In fact, Nintendo has made it clear that your save is not compromised in any way, but until you reactivate your annual pack membership, you can no longer play Happy Home Paradise. In this sense, our advice is to buy the DLC directly, because if you love Animal Crossing: New Horizons this new content is absolutely worth every penny.

Play decorator

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, customize the outdoors

Once you have purchased the expansion, you will be contacted by the mephistophelian Tom Nook who will summon you to the airport to introduce you to an old acquaintance of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer players. Casimira is a real estate agent who will offer you to work as a decorator at her Casimira Vacations, located in a large archipelago that can be reached by air. This means that every time you want to go to work, you will necessarily have to go through the airport and Dodo Airlines. The archipelago is made up of a plethora of small islands, and Casimira’s office is located right in the center. There you’ll meet Albertuccio, a cute little all-purpose monkey, and Gedeone, a walrus who takes care of Casimira’s store, where new furniture and home decor accessories are sold. The only problem is that Gideon doesn’t accept stars, but a new currency, the poki, which you can only earn by working for Casimira. But what does this work consist of?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, customize the outdoors

Happy Home Paradise is punctuated through a kind of “campaign,” so to speak. Old and new residents will arrive on the island looking for a vacation home: agency protocol dictates a preliminary interview in which the client outlines his or her preferences, usually a number of specific pieces of furniture that must be placed in their space. But what this space is we will decide. The archipelago is divided into about fifty or so lots, but each one is a biome unto itself that we will be able to customize by choosing the weather, the time of day and even the season. Once in place, we’ll have to furnish the space inside and outside the house, which can be modified by choosing its appearance, roof and colors. Everything is very simple: the interface also lets you modify the terrain and plant fences in a practical and fast way, as well as move the house itself to another point of the selected lot.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, the map of the archipelago

Once inside, the actual game begins. It’s nothing that a fan of Animal Crossing: New Horizons hasn’t already done, but there is one small difference. The catalog of Casimira Vacations, as accessible as the closet of our house, includes not only the accessories specifically requested by the customer, but also a large array of furniture, walls, carpets, chandeliers and more. Not all of them are necessarily in tune with the style mentioned by the client, but this variety allows the player to indulge himself and furnish the house as he pleases.

There’s no Game Over and you can’t fail: for a job, Happy Home Paradise is really relaxing, also because it takes away that feeling that many players must have felt in New Horizons when they wanted to decorate their house in a certain way but felt the lack of an accessory or a coordinated piece of furniture. Although it doesn’t draw on the game’s entire, boundless catalog, Happy Home Paradise provides you with all the means to furnish houses that are coordinated and consistent with the client’s requests.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, in work uniform

This means that furnishing an apartment could take a few minutes or more than an hour, depending on how determined and finicky you are. If you want, you could even sketchily furnish the interior and ignore the exterior, because you can come back later to improve the house with new ideas and features. The important thing, once the work is done, is to take a nice picture that will then be uploaded to the agency’s photo album, which also acts as a quick travel system: this way you can immediately reach a specific lot to make changes, take new pictures or whatever.

Rewards and achievements

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, you can also customize the climate and time of day of each lot

Each completed task will earn us a small reward in poki, and there is no limit to the number of houses you can furnish each day. As we said, though, Happy Home Paradise is a sort of campaign that unlocks new content, features and activities by reaching certain milestones. By completing a certain number of tasks, for example, you’ll learn new decorating or embellishment techniques, such as polishing – which makes furniture and accessories shine – or partition walls and accent walls that in the hands of a good designer can literally revolutionize any project old and new. Gideon’s catalog naturally expands accordingly, and over time it becomes possible to exchange stars for poki, deposit currencies or order furniture that we couldn’t buy in the past.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, at some point you'll have to furnish the school as well

The services of Casimira Vacations are also expanding as the player’s possibilities multiply and the clients’ requests become more complicated. Besides being able to invite the inhabitants of our island to take a vacation home in the archipelago – of course, this won’t move them permanently, eh – we’ll have to deal with the furniture in the shared houses and with the additional facilities that Casimira will propose to build, as it happened in Happy Home Designer: the school, the hospital, the restaurant and so on. We will have to furnish them, choose the staff by drawing from the visitors to the archipelago who are becoming more and more numerous and who will spend the day in their vacation homes or socializing in the surroundings of Casimira’s office, perhaps dancing on the beach or relaxing under an umbrella. The archipelago is becoming more and more lively, colorful and fun to explore, but above all it provides the player with long and short term objectives that give an additional purpose to the gameplay.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, even Fuffi wants her own vacation home

We said at the beginning that there is a strong synergy between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and its DLC, and it is in fact this winning feature to make the additional package an essential purchase for players who have spent tens if not hundreds of hours to modify their island and decorate the interior and exterior of their homes. Nearly every feature and technique learned in Happy Home Paradise is fully compatible with gameplay on the original New Horizons island: this means that if you learn how to build, say, a partition wall or pillar while working for Casimira, then you can do it at home. This reciprocity expands – literally – the gameplay and contents of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, incentivizing the player to dissect the contents of Happy Home Paradise to improve and perfect their original creations.

Bottom line.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, learn how to build pillars and partition walls

We’ll never know if Animal Crossing: New Horizons would have had the same phenomenal success without the pandemic that forced us home, causing many players to find in Nintendo’s title an almost perfect form of escapism. But one thing is for sure: New Horizons and its expansion complement each other, forming a practically perfect product… if you love Animal Crossing and all its creative side. It is clear that if you do not like to spend hours decorating the virtual houses of these talkative anthropomorphic animals, Happy Home Paradise will tell you absolutely nothing, but on the other hand it is quite obvious that this series is not for you, although there is certainly a small part of the community that appreciates it but does not pull their hair out for the creative component.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise, a lonely winter vacation home

That said, we can’t do anything but recommend the expansion to players who loved Animal Crossing: New Horizons and return to their island daily. If you have left behind this edition of the Nintendo franchise, perhaps Happy Home Paradise is not a content on which to bet a new involvement, although it takes several hours to complete it, if we can say so, which largely justify the cost of the DLC. We can argue that it would have been better to have this content at launch, but we do not feel like saying that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was “incomplete” before Happy Home Paradise and that this DLC is a so-called “cut content” – like the Pigeon House, to be clear – also because there are several features and dynamics that appear clearly thought at a later time.

PRO

  • Lots of new content, items and features to discover in hours and hours of gameplay
  • Newly learned techniques can be used on the original island
  • If you don’t like or care about the creative component of Animal Crossing, this DLC is pretty much useless, but in this case… are you sure you really like Animal Crossing?
  • Have you noticed any errors?

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