The recent major update to Animal Crossing New Horizons included an optional paid DLC, Happy Home Paradise, which is all about decorating holiday homes in a variety of styles and themes. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth your time and money, I’ve been playing it for a few weeks so here’s a look. These are all my own screenshots.
Happy Home Paradise (HHP) is essentially the same as the standalone Happy Home Designer (HHD) game from the New Leaf era. I don’t want to repeat everything from my review of that game so go read it for more details! This time you’re invited to join the team at Paradise Planning, which is at a special resort on a separate archipelago of islands. It’s run by Lottie the otter from HHD and two new super-adorable colleagues, Niko the langur and Wardell the manatee. Your job is to chat to island visitors and encourage them to let you build their dream holiday home.
A few different characters from the entire Animal Crossing cast will be hanging out on the island each day and they all have a unique concept for their home, that can be simple, vague, very specific or just plain weird. You choose a spot in the archipelago that has a season and look that suits them and then head there to get started. There are 2-3 requested items you have to include, and you also get a tab of recommended items that fit the theme, plus more random stuff. You can design the space however you like, and the client is always super happy with what you do. Even if you feel like you messed it up, you can offer to remodel it as many times as you like to change things around.
As you progress through the game, more items and features get unlocked. There’s bigger rooms and second floors, outside space, partitions, soundscapes, polishing, lighting, time of day/weather and even the option to invite 2 characters to become roommates! You can pick and choose your clients, invite characters and NPCs through amiibo and even suggest your own theme. You can also bring over villagers from your own island and make them a second home to holiday in. That makes it a lot easier to let them leave you as you can still visit them in HHP.
Lottie is also a real go-getter and soon has you working on some facilities for the main part of the resort including a school, cafe, restaurant, shop and hospital. These are much bigger projects that allow more flexibility – and unlock so many more items – so you’re not boxed into making the same thing as every other player. I made a creative arts space instead of a normal school as who wants to go to school on a paradise island? These facilities become places for the residents to work and visit and you’ll be able to buy items like food and clothing to take home.
You can also use things you’ve learned back on your own island, and vice versa. DIYs you’ve made at home, and hybrid flowers you’ve grown, can be used in HHP designs. Once you learn to use partitions, counters and pillars, you’ll be able to use those in your own home, and you can buy any items you’ve unlocked in HHP designs by mail order. Eventually Tom Nook will allow you to redesign your villagers’ homes using everything you’ve learned!
I was a big fan of Happy Home Designer and I love Happy Home Paradise too. The new features are a lot of fun and I’m enjoying the challenges of working with different themes, spaces and characters, and trying out things I would never use or do on my own island. If you love changing up your house and island, or wish you had more space, then I think you’ll love this game. If you hate that aspect then steer clear as there’s really not anything else to do. One thing to note is that it’s not a quick game to play. It can easily take me a couple of hours to finish a larger home or facility and you can only save your progress if you’re done for the day – you can’t leave a project to go and do something else. But if you’ve got a lot of downtime over the holidays, this could be perfect time to get stuck in.
If you have a Switch Online subscription you can also create a profile on the Happy Home Network and share your best designs, or just browse others for inspiration. Players are making all kinds of imaginative layouts, themes and roommate combos! Choose a design you like and you can go visit it in person as with a dream address. My designer code is in the image above if you’d like to see more of mine. Feel free to leave yours in the comments and I’ll take a look sometime.
Happy Home Paradise is a digital download only and available from the Nintendo shop, accessed through your Switch, for £22.49 UK / $24.99 US / $32.99 CAN / €24.99 EU.
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.