From Villager to Mayor to Happy Home Designer

DIGBYHey folks, just wanted to write a blog and tell you about my new job! I’m designing happy homes, and my clients are real animals! But luckily it’s pretty easy work, and somewhat entertaining, too. So let’s take a look at how I got to where I am today.

PacTown (GameCube Animal Crossing)

So back in 2002, I set out on my own to live in a new town for the first time. I had to take a train, and on the way I chatted with a nosy cat name Rover the entire time! When I got there, a friendly tanuki named Tom Nook helped me buy a house. I quickly made friends with a frog named Prince, and lived there happily for a full year.

One cool thing about the first Animal Crossing game was that you could get NES games as furniture, and you could actually play the games when you touched them. So it was like a Nintendo Museum as well. With DLC and Virtual Console, getting free games like that would be unheard of now, but that’s how it was back then. I set up my house with all the NES games, so it was like an arcade that the animals could visit and play at when I was away.

2002 was kind of a rough year for me, but Animal Crossing on the GameCube kind of cheered me up that year on my birthday in a strange, somewhat pathetic way. On my birthday in the game, it was raining, and when I opened the door, Prince the frog was there with an umbrella to give me a birthday present. And it was the NES Donkey Kong game. That cheered me up during a rough time in my life.

I really loved playing the first Animal Crossing with friends and family. Back then, you had to take your memory card to another GameCube, put it in the second slot, and visit each other locally by train! You could also share codes online, but that’s it. It’s amazing how far we’ve come since then. You could also buy cards to use with the GBA eReader to get more stuff. I guess that’s one thing that hasn’t changed (more on that later). But because of the NES games and having so much fun playing this title with others, Animal Crossing on the GameCube became one of my top five favorite games of all time.

PacTown2 (Animal Crossing: Wild World, DS)

A few years down the road I decided that it would be best if I moved on to a new Wild World. I took a cab on a rainy day, and it was driven by Kapp’n, who I wouldn’t see much in this game at all after that. Anyway I arrived in my new town, which I named PacTown2, (a totally original name, I know). Tom Nook was there to greet me again to sell me a new home. There was hardly any improved in this town over the last, but I guess it was pretty novel to play this on a handheld. The one big new thing was that I could now visit towns online via Copper and Booker’s gate. I had so much fun visiting towns from local friends, online friends from, and family members. I was disappointed in the lack of improvements in the game, and the fact they took out my favorite NES games completely, but I still played this one for nearly a full year!

PacTown3 (Animal Crossing: City Folk, Wii)

A while later I was lured by the hustle and bustle of the city, and decided to move again. This time to…you guess it, PacTown3! When I got there, I was sorely disappointed by the ‘city’ as it was nothing more than just a strip mall that you had to take a bus to. And what’s worse is that Kapp’n drove the bus, and kept asking all sorts of creepy questions and telling annoying stories and giving bad advice. I was also disappointed that this game, even though being on a more powerful home console, had little improvement from the last two games. They must have sensed my disappointment in the game, as nine months after moving in; I was ‘evicted’ so to speak. My save file of the game got corrupted somehow, and I never did anything myself that would cause it to do that. So I stopped playing after that. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed City Folk and had fun playing it online with friends and family. But as far as the series is concerned, this one is my least favorite.

PacTown4 (Animal Crossing: New Leaf, 3DS)

After the city fiasco, I was glad to move again, and this time I took a train to the creatively named PacTown4. Surprisingly, on the train I ran into Rover again, I haven’t talked with him since 2002. When I got to the town, there was a bit of a mix-up and they thought I was the mayor instead of Tortimer the turtle! So in this town I was the mayor and had a lot more power over the area. The shopping center (which was better than the strip mall ‘city’ from the last game) had lots of shops and grew fast, and as mayor I could dictate their business hours, as well as build public works projects in town. Only problem is you had to talk with the townsfolk to get them to request more public works, and sometimes this was random. I wanted a police station but never got one, so I guess our town was pretty safe. Just about every aspect of New Leaf was improved. I especially liked building my own museum rooms with Blathers the owl, and visiting a vacation island run by Kapp’n and his family. New Leaf is really the first Animal Crossing game that offers any real improvements over the first game, and that’s one of the reasons why it was my Game of the Year back in 2013.

There is one other reason why it was my Game of the Year in 2013. That was the same year that my grandmother passed away. After the funeral, our family gathered at her house to eat dinner and spend time with one another. One of my cousins who I used to play with a lot when we were little, she was there with her three kids, and we all had our 3DS systems and copies of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. So we spent the whole evening playing together and visiting each other’s towns and whatnot. It kind of reminded me how my cousins and I would play together when we were kids, and as we were playing Animal Crossing, it was a bittersweet feeling knowing that this may be one of the last times we get to do that. I’m sure our grandmother in Heaven would be happy seeing us play together like that, even if it was right after the funeral. Since Animal Crossing games have given me and my family and friends so much joy over the years, I’ll probably always get the newest ones in the series, no matter how good or bad they might be.

Unknown Town (Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, 3DS)

Recently, I decided to hang my hat up as mayor, at least for now (until the next real Animal Crossing game comes out, I suppose). But I still needed a job to earn those precious bells.   Over the years, Tom Nook has built himself quite an empire, starting out as a shop owner, dabbling in real estate on the side. Now he’s gone full swing with the real estate business and even has his own office. Well, I applied for a job there and now I’m an employee of Nook’s Homes! I’m not sure of the name of the town I’m in; as they didn’t allow me to name it (can you guess what I would’ve named it?). I guess I just commute to work.

So yeah, Tom Nook’s my boss, but he’s never in the office. My other co-workers mutter all the time about how he goes and plays golf during company hours. Lyle the otter also works there, and he’s been there for a long time. I’m not sure what he does, but you’d better not take his red stapler (I hope someone gets that joke). Lyle’s niece Lottie also works there, and she’s new to the Animal Crossing world. I think she has a crush on Digby the dog, the other employee at Nook’s. I’m not sure what either of them do either, but I do remember Digby being in charge of the Happy Home Showcase in my town from the last game, and he was always out there, even when it rained (he had his raincoat on, poor guy). So see, even in Animal Crossing, there are office politics and office drama. I just wish Lottie wouldn’t call me ‘tiger’ all the time. In a world full of other animals, that can get confusing!

So anyway, my new job is to decorate homes. It’s super easy with the stylus and touch pen controls on the 3DS. You just move furniture around by dragging it with the stylus and tap on it to rotate. The game even lets you do new things like hang items from the ceiling and decorate doors and windows. You can even put furniture outside in the clients’ yards! Sometimes Isabelle, my old assistant when I was mayor, will stop by the office to have me decorate shops and businesses in town, like a school, restaurants, shops, a hospital, and even an office building! I bet that in the next full Animal Crossing game, most of these new ways to decorate will be implemented in the game. If not, I’ll be a little disappointed.

There are two ways to drum up business in the game and bring in clients. The first is to go outside and talk with other villagers first thing in the morning on a business day. They will tell you want they want, and if you are interested, you can bring them in as a client to decorate their homes. It’s pretty easy to make them happy. They’ll usually have one or two pieces of furniture they want you to use, but the rest is up to you. The more animals you help, the more furniture you unlock. It’s just another reminder about how lazy these animals really are. In the other games, when a new animal moves in, the first day they usually just say they’re busy unpacking. Nope, they’re just waiting for the Happy Home people to come in and unpack for them! But then, if I knew someone who had a magic iPad that could make furniture float around, I’d do that, too.

The other way to get a client is to scan an Animal Crossing Amiibo card. They are sold separately, but you don’t really need them to play the game as there are plenty of clients around town in-game. To scan a card, you just use a special phone in the office to call that animal on the card. In the sales world, that is what’s known as making a ‘cold call.’ And once you scan them using the New 3DS or 3DS scanner peripheral, you decorate their home like anyone else. I think the cards will also be used in the upcoming Wii U AC board game. I saw a Japanese video of the game and they used the cards, but I figured they would anyway since I noticed dice and paper/rock/scissors symbols on the cards that aren’t used in this title. Like I said earlier, this reminds me of the eReader cards they used to have with the original Animal Crossing game, except I probably won’t go as crazy collecting the new ones since they are so expensive. But if you have any extras, I’d gladly give them a good home.  You can also go online and show off your work and rate other people’s houses, and compete in design competitions.

I’d have to say that if I had to compare this game to another, it would be close to the ‘Imagine’ series of games that let kids live out their dreams of what they would want to be when they grow up. The Imagine game series lets kids play out their fantasies of being a cook, babysitter, fashion designer, and other jobs. So I guess Happy Home Designer would let them pretend to be interior decorators. Although I wouldn’t say this game would be educational, as I imagine real life interior decorating is nothing like this. I’m sure real clients wouldn’t be so easy to please, and moving furniture around wouldn’t be so simple either.

While I’ve enjoyed Happy Home Designer, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Only folks who really liked decorating houses in the other games, or fans who just REALLY like Animal Crossing as much as I do. It’s nice to be able to play an AC game that doesn’t run on a real time clock, though, so I don’t feel like I have to play it every day (and I don’t). It’s still a quality game; I just can’t recommend it to most of you reading this. I guess now there’s nothing left to do except wait for that Amiibo Festival I’ve been hearing my co-workers talk about. In the comments section, tell me your favorite Animal Crossing characters (mine are Blathers the Owl and Prince the Frog). –Cary

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