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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Cardinal Gaming: Happy Home Paradise brings joy back to Animal Crossing

For players frustrated with bringing their island to a five-star rating, HHP provides a creative outlet.

Animal Crossing has a reputation as an easygoing game where players simply plant flowers, create gardenscapes and traverse an idyllic landscape they all wish they could live in full-time

That is a myth. 

Well-versed players of the game understand that the true Animal Crossing is a cutthroat game full of nosy neighbors who never leave, a horrifying bunny who is always watching and a frustratingly arbitrary rating system. I’m willing to admit that maybe I’m not as good at this game as I thought I was or wished to be, but I recently found myself experiencing Animal Crossing burnout. 

After months stuck at three out of five stars, forced to employ half-naked KK Slider as my only form of entertainment on Saturday nights and watching thousands of Redditors claim the coveted white lily with their five-star rating, I was tired. So naturally, I quit. 

That was until a chance encounter at Target brought me face-to-face with Lottie the otter from Paradise Planning. I’d be lying if I didn’t say she became a mother figure to me in this moment. She appeared in town hall like a guardian angel and offered me a job, a purpose outside meaninglessly building outdoor patios for villagers I hated. I was swept away to a beautiful landscape to learn the value of found family, eternal friendship and actually being able to discriminate against villagers that I hated. 

Animal crossing HHP 2
courtesy of Nintendo of America

Happy Home Paradise gives players access to a near-unlimited catalog of furniture and items to decorate houses as they please. These are “vacation homes” where villagers from the Animal Crossing ether can sit back and relax with the theme of their choice — whether that be space, an influencer paradise, a gothic mansion or an entire bathroom, if need be. 

It’s here that players can finally enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played: in a creative mode that allows you to explore the true bounds of imagination and, in my opinion, build banging houses that would put any interior designer to shame. 

Animal crossing HHP 1
courtesy of Nintendo of America
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Another plus to this game is its rewards framework. The beginning rate for designing one home is 5,000 poki, a new form of currency introduced in HHP. Exchange rates between poki and the bells used in the normal game may vary, but I can safely say it feels much better to be paid a livable wage as opposed to 1,000 bells for catching a couple of fish. 

In HHP, everyone appreciates the effort that you as the player put into making things work as smoothly as they do. No more whiny villagers explaining that they haven't seen you in a month or begging for the locust in your pockets when you're clearly going to keep it as a pet. Lottie constantly sings your praises as you make it through the game, throwing multiple parties, trusting you to run the company when she got appendicitis and promoting you frequently, with pay raises included. 

It was in this calming, inspiring environment — where I didn’t have to pay 90,000 bells for a 20-inch LCD TV — that I found myself able to carry on, to go back to my island and work on finally kicking out all the loser villagers who are bringing it down. 

The Happy Home Paradise DLC brought the magic back to Animal Crossing and cemented me as a lifetime player. 

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Gabriella Hartlaub

Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.

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