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Video Game / Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

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A major component of Nintendo's popular Animal Crossing franchise is the ability to design your house, as well as help other villagers with their houses when they ask you to bring furniture to them. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer takes this concept to its logical endpoint; You design houses for the various villagers and other NPCs who ask for your services.

Released in 2015 on the Nintendo 3DS, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is the first retail spinoff of the life simulation series Animal Crossing, being made in the same game engine and sharing many of its assets with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It was marketed alongside special Animal Crossing amiibo cards that, when scanned, enable new villager requests for you and allow other villagers to visit the house where you just decorated at for a house party.

It's most notable these days for introducing a few of the ideas that would later be backported into New Leaf the following year with the "Welcome amiibo" update, such as the advanced customisation tool that adds touchscreen controls to move furniture, as well as the facial and hair customisation being ported over to the future entries; Pocket Camp and New Horizons. Happy Home Designer itself would later get a followup as a DLC expansion for New Horizons called Happy Home Paradise.

Trope Examples:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Lyle wears glasses, as does Isabelle if you do her house via an amiibo card/ figurine. You can give villagers and other special NPC's persistent clothing choices via the customisation options at their houses. In the case of special NPC's such as Isabelle, you can give her the same black-framed glasses she wears when at home, and she will keep wearing them when at work. They will not take them off unless you do the same thing again.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Customisation of any kind is instant. If it worked like in real life, then you'd be in endless amounts of paperwork and the game would slow to a crawl when designing interiors and exteriors alike.
  • All There in the Manual: This game gives quite a lot of characterisation to every villager and special NPC the game supports via their in-game dialog, or if you summon them via amiibo.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: The more houses and building interiors you create and finish, the more clothes, furniture, food, fish, balloons, paintings, music CD covers, really anything you could possibly decorate a room with, is unlocked.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The touchscreen controls were made for this game in mind, thankfully so the game isn't just you pushing and pulling all the furniture into place AC-2001-style.
    • Unlike other Animal Crossing games, the grid for placing items is larger than normal, meaning your character can get in-between gaps, and have more freedom of design by placing items in the middle of tables.
    • You are able to pick up special NPC's like Isabelle or your client villagers by pressing and holding on their icon. This lets you handle the inevitable furniture juggling by moving pesky people out of the way.
    • Holding Left bumper while tapping an object will create duplicates of that object, saving you time having to repeatedly go into the menu to get the same object again.
    • amiibo cards allows you to select your favourite villager and create a home for them, as well as give them persistent clothing choices.
    • The Guide Book gives you hints and unlocks extra customisation tools (like ceiling items such as lights and fans) by using play coins. The entire guide can be unlocked by spending about 25 play coins, so it's not hard to unlock the functionality.
    • The game will not delete a customised house or building if you want to remodel or move its location. In the case of when additional rooms are added with a custom floor plan, buildings will copy the wallpaper just in case you want to keep the theme, but houses do not.
    • The Trash does not actually delete objects; it stores them in a separate inventory, and only starts deleting objects if it runs out of room. This was likely done to prevent accidental deletions, and if you change your mind on some aspect of design later on, you can bring the item back. The Trash inventory is also per-property, meaning deleted items stay in the trash even after you finish the first design, and begin a new remodel for the house or public work project.
    • Villager room sizes are not random. Specific requests give you specific room sizes, such as Jacque asking for a bowling alley, and you will be presented with a long, thin room to do it in. You can override this with a custom floor plan, however.
  • Canon Foreigner: Lottie the otter, who first appears here. Judging by her reappearances in amiibo Festival and Welcome amiibo, she's here to stay.
  • Collection Sidequest:
    • As with the other mainline games, you collect Emotes. In this game, it's after each home is finished.
    • The Guide Book tips and tricks. You can only unlock one each day, but they add new functionality to the game.
  • The Bus Came Back: While they made their main series comeback in the Welcome amiibo update for New Leaf, Happy Home Designer does return four villagers that were previously exclusive to the first game, which are Carrie the kangaroo, Louie the gorilla, Claude the rabbit, and Maddie the dog. (The latter 3 are limited DLC).
  • Character Customization: For the first time in the series, you can choose to be a skin colour other than the default light-skinned (which in New Leaf required tanning, and thus the opening of Shampoodle). The game foregoes the typical Animal Crossing customization quiz and just lets you choose your design right at the start. Pocket Camp and New Horizons would subsequently adopt this approach to character creation.
  • Demoted to Extra: Isabelle is only added as a client when you get to work on the town buildings. Tom Nook is the boss of Happy Home Academy, and you see him and Lottie far more.
  • Developer's Foresight: Listed on this page covering the entire series' worth of this trope.
  • Diegetic Character Creation: The game begins with Tom Nook remembering what the new employee (ie: the player character) looks like before they're due to arrive, which allows you to customise them.
  • Downloadable Content: DLC characters include Filly, a Normal Horse with a 7-Eleven theme (or just a convenience store theme in international versions), and a Felyne.
  • Earn Your Fun: You have unlock new design tools with the Guide Book, but this can only be done once per work day. So you can't place fossils or gyroids until you learn how to do it.
  • Easter Egg: Tapping icon of the client villager/ NPC on the touchscreen makes them do the "Hello" emotion.
  • Edible Theme Clothing: The game has several DIY recipes that allows the player to make outfits out of the fruits you can find on the island.
  • Excuse Plot: While there is an actual campaign that has you work on villager houses and yards, town buildings, as well as visting each one, it's not really the focus; the customisation of each room is.
  • Furry Confusion: You can display frogs in the game, and some of the villagers you can get are frogs.
  • Fingerless Hands: Despite the ability to pick up and store whatever you can in the game, the player characters have no visible fingers.
  • Gender-Inclusive Writing: The player is referred to as such in these sorts of terms (They/Them/My Employee/Real Name). The only gendered writing is for the townsfolk and other NPC Characters.
  • The Ghost: Cyrus is responsible for redecorating your items (table color changes, modifying designs on furniture, etc.), while Blathers is responsible for providing you with fish and fossils. Neither appear in the game unless you have their amiibo on hand to design a house for them. The Mayor of the town is scarcely mentioned, and they do not appear.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In most cases of scanning incompatible amiibo, the game will simply tell you the amiibo isn't compatible. However, scanning the RV cards from New Leaf will crash the game- apparently the game recognizes that it's an Animal Crossing series card but can't figure out what to do with the nonexistent character. This even extends to amiibo cards for characters introduced via DLCs like Maddie.
  • Global Currency Exception: Lessons from the Guide Book costs play coins, ranging from 1 to 5.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: K.K Slider's casual outfit in Happy Home Designer and Welcome amiibo (as well as his 3rd costume in amiibo Festival) has him wearing his DJ hat and a long-sleeved green-and-white striped shirt.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: The whole point of Happy Home Designer is to decorate people's houses using wallpaper, flooring, decorations, and furniture.
  • Irony: Animals in the meeting room of the office facility you can construct are usually seen holding a meeting called "How to Hold a Productive Meeting". Going by the dialogue, these meetings end up dragging on for hours or even days.
  • Justified Tutorial: The game teaches you the mechanics of the game through your first client....which is actually Lottie.
  • Literal Metaphor: When special characters who are proprietors of businesses in the main games are called, they usually mistake the mention of a "home appointment" for a request for use of their services at the caller's home, afterwards realizing it's literally referring to an appointment about a home in current context.
  • Loophole Abuse: The trash feature removes items into a separate inventory, meaning one can use it to move items between rooms.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In his main series appearances, Rover's role is to set up various aspects, including the player character's appearance, and the first thing he asks is for confirmation of the time due to his watch being busted, which sets the game's time. The first thing Rover asks when you call him on the amiibo phone is what time it is for the very same reason, although you don't respond as he realizes he's not having an in-person conversation.
    • Margie's request has a number of references to her depiction in the movie. Her fashion themed house references her dream to become a fashion designer. Cherries being recommended decorations refer to her cherry pie metaphor. And lastly, her default song is K.K. Bossa, which she requested during the Fireworks Festival.
  • National Geographic Nudity: Players can never wear anything less than a pair of shorts and a shirt. However, several of Redd's statues - most notably the Gallant Statue and Beautiful Statue - are partly or entirely nude and anatomically correct, as it were. The game maintains its kid-friendly rating because these are model replicas of famous real-life sculptures, and to some degree offers an educational benefit to players.
  • Nephewism: Happy Home Designer introduces Lottie, Lyle's niece.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: The game very obviously reuses assets from New Leaf. Given they share the same Game Engine and developers, this makes a lot of sense.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened that caused the fallout between Tom Nook and Crazy Redd, as mentioned in Happy Home Designer:
    Tom Nook: I worked with a fox once in my life. Never again. Not after...the incident.
  • Office Golf: Tom Nook has golf clubs on the first floor next to the customisation booth, and a lot of his dialogue from others characterises him as loving golf in general. The loading screen for the online showcase is him whacking a golf ball across a golf course.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: If you visit a villager and enter a room in their house, they will always be in that room before you. Same applies for going outside.
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • This games' cartridge can be popped in while playing New Leaf at the start-up menu, and can be used to obtain giant furniture, as well as a few other things.
    • amiibo Festival allows you to import villager houses from Happy Home Designer.
    • Design QR codes are cross-compatible among New Leaf, Happy Home Designer, and (with help from a smartphone, since the Switch has no camera) New Horizons.
  • Photo Mode: You have access to Happy Home Camera tool that is primarily used for surveying the house your building from a first person view, but it can be used to take screenshots of villagers.
  • Player Data Sharing: The Happy Home Showcase. You can look at and visit other people's properties they've customised, and even score them ratings, all over the Internet.
  • Play Every Day: The game encourages this with the systems that can only be unlocked once a day in-game-time. You can only do one project or home per day, the guide book only gives you new features via lessons once per day, emotes can be unlocked for each villager you make a house for, and the game gives you the option to quit the game after each day.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The gender of the player character makes no gameplay difference, and is only once mentioned in-game; when Tom Nook asks what it is (Boy or Girl), but that's the only time it comes up. Characters consistently use gender-neutral pronouns to refer to the player, your characters' face and hair can be customised right from the start, and your attire can be changed whenever.
  • Product Placement: The game gives a warning about this when booting up for the first time. There isn't any product placement to speak of in the game itself in the western releases, and the Manual makes no mention as to what brands are being used, so it comes off as Invisible Advertising outside of Japan (where the placement is for 7-Eleven, but was genericised in other country releases)
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Downplayed. Tom Nook and Redd reveal that they used to be work together at some point, and when each one speaks to you about it, he says that of the two of them, only the other one is not to be trusted. Tom Nook can barely say more of the incident, and "your pal" Redd tries to reassure you that he's the reliable one.
  • Token Human: As always, you star as a human among Funny Animals. Oddly, should you put a TV in a house and turn it on, any non-cartoon show or commercial they'll see will only involve realistic (if heavily-pixellated) humans. They'll still talk in Animalese, though.
  • Toys-To-Life Game: This game is essentially a Poorly-Disguised Pilot for introducing amiibo cards to the world, and boy does it show.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You are able to trap villagers in parts of a interior if you don't leave enough room to escape the three partitions surrounding them. You can also play god and pick them up at your will.
    • Barely meeting the requirements for the villager and giving them an empty room with nothing in it other than some food. The villager will still love it.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential:
    • Despite the measures taken to maintain the kid friendly rating, people have nonetheless gotten very creative when it comes to getting around the profanity filter measures, such as abusing the Scunthorpe problem when naming themselves, And, as always, the custom designs can be used for any kind of artwork, and can be hung up on the wall for anyone to see. There's even a specific "Report" feature that will block a specific players' houses appearing if you find them offensive.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: The player can choose what gender the player character is and has control over their facial features (which, in older games, depends on what your answers you give when asked some questions at the beginning of the game). Their clothing, hairstyle, eye color and even options for darker skin tones are present here. The sole exception are shirts and long dresses, which cannot be changed when working, but can be used when visiting former clients or going to buildings.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: You are able to wear anything girly as a male (like skirts), or anything manly as a female (like pants). Nobody comments on this in the game.