The Horror of New Horizons: Happy Home Paradise

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Secretly a Billionaire

I’ll admit to it up front: I do not like paying for things.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked Nintendo products – the controllers last forever, the consoles are pretty hardy devices, and the games are (usually) pretty fleshed-out without the need for microtransactions or additional DLC packs. My Xbox 360 controllers wore out after only a year of usage – the same for my Playstation 2 controllers. At the same time, my Wii Remotes are still going very strong ten years later. The games that I had on Xbox 360 needed paid DLC to be a full game (looking at you, Destiny), while my purchases for the Wii or 3DS library were always a satisfying experience without needing to spend extra money.

That’s been slowly flushed away since the 3DS and Wii U era.

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And Around It Goes…

It started out innocently. Games that were already fleshed-out began receiving paid DLC packs as an added bonus. Mewtwo and Ryu and company came out for Smash 4, but if you were happy with your 50-some characters, then great! You still had a full and complete game without needing to buy anything else. Mario Kart 8 had a perfectly adequate 32 tracks, the standard for previous Mario Kart games. There wasn’t much more that one could ask for (besides a good Battle mode). But Nintendo persevered and produced another 16 tracks! If you didn’t want another 16 tracks, that was fine. But if you wanted more out of your karting, you could fork over a couple bucks and get them.

Shoot, in a rare instance of generosity, Nintendo even gave us an entirely free major update to a years-old game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It revived interest in the game, helped to sell amiibo, and gave us all a little more value for the investment we’d already made.

Zagging Where Others Zag

Nintendo has often been described as a company that “zigs where others zag”. For my non-English speaking friends, that’s a cute way of saying that Nintendo goes against the popular thinking to do what they want.

Nintendo doesn’t zig where others zag, anymore. It appears that they’re just zagging. Compare the above Wii U examples to their Nintendo Switch counterparts.

Smash Ultimate is a largely-incomplete game, and has been since launch. Many players have complained that, beyond the Smash mode and World of Light, there’s effectively no content for Ultimate. They’d be right – it took almost an entire year just for Home-Run Contest, a Smash staple, to be added to the game. Stage Builder, another staple, was only a bit faster, clocking in at five months after release. Ultimate released as a game that was missing two classic game modes – granted, they compensate for a massive character selection, but all characters and no modes makes Jack a dull boy.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe actually has very little new to add – you get a few extra characters and a proper Battle mode, and… the DLC that you already bought for the original Mario Kart 8. You could make the argument that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a full game, and you’d be right – but it’s a game you bought already, and at full price.

These are two of many examples of times that Nintendo slacked off and gave us an incomplete product. They can hardly be blamed for doing it – many games these days release with their DLC already planned and prepared (Sonic Adventure DLC, anyone?), and sometimes even chop up the base game to sell as DLC a la The Sims.

This is, to a degree, what Nintendo seems to have done with Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ announced update. We’ve all known that New Horizons isn’t exactly a completed game – hell, it was delayed for four months before releasing as it was, and we still don’t have froggy chair. And it’s no secret that most of the playerbase quit about one month in due to the lack of content.

New Horizons is a significantly more bare game than its predecessor New Leaf, even without the Welcome amiibo update. That’s okay – these things happen.

The Question

So why in the hell is this update $25 when there’s hardly a base game?

When Welcome amiibo came out, we all appreciated the extra content and played around with it for a while, and it was fun. Having Wolf Link in our towns gave rise to many a fan fiction that I would prefer not to read.

Happy Home Paradise (not the free update) is, effectively, the equivalent of Welcome amiibo for New Horizons, but now Nintendo feels the obligation to charge us for content that would reasonably be considered “built-in” to an Animal Crossing game in another circumstance. In fact, it actually was built-in with another Animal Crossing game: Happy Home Designer. As best as I can tell, this DLC pack just takes the gameplay from Happy Home Designer and applies it to New Horizons, and gives it a mild New Horizons spin.

I understand Nintendo needs to make a profit, and DLC is a great way to do that when the billions of dollars of profit from amiibo sales just doesn’t cut it. This isn’t the way to produce DLC – recycling probably already-made content to put into an incomplete game for this price just feels icky. If it were free or at least much cheaper, that’d be more reasonable – I’d pay $10 for an expansion, sure. But $25? Not without writing a post to complain about it first.

Are you going to buy the Happy Home Paradise update? Tell me why in the comments below!


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