Nintendo fans might be familiar with the Animal Crossing franchise, which has been around for almost two decades. It debuted in 2001 on Nintendo 64, and sixteen years later we get the opportunity to play its mobile release. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a free to play version for Android and iOS that has soft launched in some countries.
We tested the game, and our first impression is more than affirmative. After all, it’s nothing less than we would have expected from the Japanese company, which already demonstrated the seriousness with mobile adaptations of Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run. As a result, we got the game that captures the core of the community simulation that AC series offers on consoles.
Don’t Expect a Complete Package
As usual, you need to be aware that this is a mobile release. That means that you can’t expect all features that a console game offers, but the important thing is that the core experience is here. Pocket Camp is an excellent distraction and a way to get your Animal Crossing dose if you are on the go.
In case you are new to the franchise, let’s briefly explain what it is all about. You arrive as a newcomer in a town that is full of anthropomorphic animals. You can do various activities to complete achievements, make new friends, and upgrade your house and furniture. The same mechanics are present in the mobile adaptation, although you set up a camper instead of a home. You also have multiple areas that you can visit, and there is a map to use to get around easier.
It Looks a Bit Watered Down
There is a problem with touchscreen controls. There is nothing wrong with the system per se since everything works perfectly and the controls are very responsive. However, the problem is the very fact that you use touching your display to perform actions. As a result of that, activities like bug-catching and fishing present no challenge.
We even got an impression that Pocket Camp is nothing but a preview of the ‘real’ thing (the console version of the game). It seems like its goal is to attract a wide fan base and get them to take a look at this series. Once they are intrigued, they might research a bit and find out that there is an ‘upgraded’ version of the Animal Crossing on 3DS called the New Leaf.
That being said, there is a far better chance that you will like the mobile version if you haven’t played the ones available on Nintendo’s consoles. In case you did, you need to make a distinction that playing the game on your phone is only enough to get you distracted for a small portion of the time. That is if you are not willing to invest in the in-game currency.
There are Not Enough Leaf Tickets in the World
Although we have seen microtransactions trying to make their way into PC and console releases lately, we are used that they are an integral part of mobile titles for a while now. That is why the freemium concept that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offers didn’t surprise us. In fact, we expected the pay-to-win model to be present. We just didn’t expect that it would be so evident.
There are a lot of timers waiting for you in this game. If you prefer, there are a bunch of timers that you will have to wait to expire. There is a way around it, but it will require you to use Leaf Tickets, which are the premium in-game currency. As you would expect, they are hard to earn but easy to spend. However, they will speed things up and accelerate activities such as the fruit on the trees growing again.
You Can Only Do So Much in One Day
The game uses a real-life clock and limits you when it comes to things that you can do in one day. There are activities that you can do for an unlimited amount of time, such as fishing, but when it comes to meaningful things you can only do a small portion of them in a single day. After playing for a while, the game explicitly forces you to make a choice – will you invest in Leaf Tickets or wait for tomorrow?
The problem that arises is that you can’t “win” in this franchise. The whole point is enjoying the experience while making new friends and crafting new items. If you want to befriend someone, you will need to fulfill their requests. Some of them will require you to catch a butterfly, while the others will look for fruits.
Navigate Quickly with the Map
The map is there to help you navigate between the areas quickly. That is a sweet feature because it prevents you from losing time when walking from one place to the other. The campsite is at the center of the map, and that’s where you will start playing. Isabel will help you to find your way around the camp in the short tutorial.
She will reveal that there are animal campers that are visiting the nearby islands. However, they are not staying for long unless you entice them with attractive amenities and furniture at your campsite. That is what will motivate them to come to your island and stay there forever.
Quid Pro Quo System
Each time an animal has a request, and you fulfill it; you will improve your friendship. However, they will also reward you in the form of crafting materials. You can use them to build amenities on your campsite and attract them to visit. However, not even the best attractions will work if you don’t build up the relationship with the creature to the required level.
If you played the Happy Home Designer spin-off for 3DS, you would find working in your Campsite familiar. There is an ample amount of space available to set up a wide range of items, including benches, beds, instruments, TVs, fluffy rugs and a host of other things that will spur your creativity. Although it looks better if you leave some space between elements, the game doesn’t require a walking path for your visitors.
Visit Other Campsites
The social aspect is also present in the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. You can visit other players’ Campsites if you want to steal an idea or two about decorating. There is also the option of trading thanks to the Market Boxes. Each player has a Market Box that he fills with extra fruit, fish, and other things. Any other gamer that visits his campsite can buy those items in exchange for money.
There are also Daily Challenges that can increase the amount of time you spend in the game every day. Although it has certain restrictions, the reports say that you can complete all the achievements in about a month. The good news is that Nintendo is implementing new content on a regular basis and we can expect that there will be plenty of things to do soon.
Overall, Pocket Camp is a decent adaptation of the series for the mobile market. The authors managed to create a beautiful little game suitable for all ages. It’s a shame that there is a bunch of timers that can ruin the experience (either for impatient children or for parents that will be forced to spend real cash to extend their kids’ fun). If you are familiar with the franchise, perhaps you can do without trying this game. However, if you are looking for a casual and sweet mobile game without any violence, there is a lot of fun for you in Animal Crossing.