Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a massive hit for Nintendo. The game sold 13.41 million copies within the first six weeks of release, and subsequently brought joy to a variety of players all around the world. Its popularity only increased during the continuing months as the colorful and relaxing game became a refuge for folks who needed a bit of escape during quarantine.
But Animal Crossing games haven't always been slam dunks. The series has produced a range of spinoffs, some pleasantly quirky, others surprisingly dull, that have received mixed reviews from players and critics alike.
Here's a look at those side games to help you decide whether they're worth another shot if you find yourself getting sick of New Horizons.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
Released in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS, Happy Home Designer is a delightful little game that blends the charm of Animal Crossing together with nonstop decorating action. And I do mean nonstop. There is nothing but house decorating in this game. It is interior décor heaven.
Your character is a new employee for Tom Nook's interior design agency, Nook's Homes. After going through orientation, which teaches you the game's controls, you'll begin consulting with villagers seeking your interior design skills to make their dream homes. Without limitations like a lack of crafting materials or money, your creativity is free to run wild.
Happy Home Designer received mixed reviews for the lack of gameplay variety when it first released, but I highly disagree with the critics on this one. At the time, people expected it to be a full, mainline Animal Crossing title, not a spin-off, and criticized it for not being what they wanted. Looking at it again, years after its release, the reality is that the game offered exactly what it promised: An opportunity to decorate lots and lots of different homes. It still does that perfectly well with its adorable aesthetics, slow gameplay, and easy-to-understand controls.
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
You'd think an Animal Crossing board game would be an amazing idea, but it didn't quite turn out that way with Amiibo Festival, a WiiU game released in 2015. This was an overt attempt to promote Nintendo Amiibo figures by using them as board game pieces. It was a cute concept, but the party game didn't turn out to be much of a party.
Many players found it boring, with its lack of mini-games and slow pace. The goal of the game was to go around the board to gain the most bells and 'happy points'. At the end, whoever was the happiest — by obtaining the most happy points or owning the most money to convert into happy points — was the winner.
Not only did the game have a strange lesson to impart on players (see, money can buy happiness!), the lack of mini-games made Amiibo Festival dull to play overall. You and your friends would just roll the dice, over and over, to see what happened to your character next, until the game was finished. Frankly, it'd probably be better to play an actual board game.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing for your smartphone is a fantastic idea, and I enjoyed my time with Pocket Camp. The mobile app, available for both Android and iPhone, has been going strong for over two years now and recently hit a burst of popularity as folks without a Nintendo Switch have turned to their phones instead.
In Pocket Camp, you get to head to the wilderness to decorate and settle into your own little campsite. It's similar to New Horizons in the way that you can chill out and craft furniture, buy clothing, garden, shake trees for fruit, catch bugs, and go fishing. You can decorate your campsite with whatever you craft, visit a friend's campsite, fulfill villager tasks, and invite your faves to hang at your camp. There's so much to do that some players prefer Pocket Camp over New Horizons because of all it has to offer.
Pocket Camp has had plenty of time to refine itself into a mobile game that offers just as much as New Horizons. It receives constant updates and events that provide a regular stream of new items to play with and tasks to accomplish. If New Horizons hasn't managed to grip you, or if you need something more portable than a Nintendo Switch, you really can't go wrong with Pocket Camp.