Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is Quite Simply Awesome

Calm, colorful, cheery, charming, and relaxing are a few words to describe Animal Crossing (AC). The brainchild of Katsuya Eguchi from Nintendo, Animal Crossing seeks to encapsulate the feelings of communicating, sharing, and being close to friends and family. A challenging feat by any means, but one that the series has achieved magnificently throughout almost all of its iterations and now with the release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp the tradition continues right from your phone or tablet. I personally have a long history with the series, and have played nearly all versions of the games with the exception of the spin-off titles such as Happy Home Designer, and Amiibo Festival (but, we don’t talk about those). However, is the pocket edition of AC truly worth the time and effort? Have the developers captured the feelings of joy and happiness provided by the main series? Is the currently around 60ish animal roster worth it even if they don’t have my favorite buddies? Honestly, I’ll let the reader decide for themselves.

STOP ME NOW WORLD!!!! MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp begins with the player being asked a few questions as well as the look of their characters. After determining their looks, you’ll discover that your character lives in the back of a van after what I can only presume was being uncovered as a phony mayor of the previous game (face it, their days were numbered from the start). You arrive at what appears to be an abandoned campground which is also being managed by a suspiciously familiar puppy by the name of Isabelle (who I can safely assume went on the lam for some kind of voter fraud) ready to start a new racket by making you the manager of the locale. After, being some slight coercion you begin setting up the place in order to host animals which can later be extorted for money and gifts. Thus begins the journey of collecting, scavenging, crafting, and doing favors for your animal friends as with any of the other titles in the game.

However, AC:PC utilizes a much more simplified method for all of these tasks. Unlike the main series which require some skill to capture fish or bugs, in Pocket Camp tapping the critter will make it slightly jump or move to notify the player that it is in their sights. The player character will then approach the insects and when an exclamation (!) sign appears over the animal it is your signal to tap once and capture it; fishing uses a similar mechanic where once the fish nibbles a few times the (!) will appear and one tap is enough to get it (try to be fast as they will flee otherwise). The method utilized ensures that smaller children will have no problem playing the game as long as they can keep their focus (which is great for new players as certain critters can be quite tricky to catch).  Jobs, on the other hand, have been simplified to gathering certain items and giving it to the animals in order to gain favor (and affection) with them. You heard that correctly, the only jobs in the game involve giving gifts to the animals, that means you no longer have to track down a guy who lent their Pocket Pikachu to their friend, whose cousin twice removed borrowed from him. In exchange, the animals will typically provide bonuses and crafting materials that you can use to generate furniture which is an important asset in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Furniture serves a dual purpose in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. By crafting certain pieces you’ll be able to draw animals to your campgrounds in order to get the bonuses mentioned earlier. Each animal has a set of prerequisites that once met will allow them to move into the camp. You don’t really need to place the items in order to have them, but they are required in order to recruit the animals and once recruited the game conveniently offers an option to place everything back in its original position. Furniture crafting can be difficult as it is extremely time consuming; while the initial pieces of decoration can be made within minutes it won’t take long before some of them require several hours to complete. Of course, you can speed it up by using leaf tickets which are not particularly difficult to earn but are better used for other tasks. Yet, it pays off in the end once the animal moves in and you can spend time with them on a regular basis, it’s too bad a lot of them are currently missing from the game

THESE DON’T COUNT!!!!

We made chicken that day!

Animals are literally one of the biggest draws in the Animal Crossing titles (I mean it’s not even rocket science as it is right there in the title). In Pocket Camp the amount of animals is still quite limited, but it’s not to say it’s a bad mix. The developers are adding animals every day and the ones currently available are almost guaranteed to have one of your favorites if not at least ones you like. Apple the hamster, Cherry the dog are some of my favorites and I was fortunate enough to have encountered them with their personalities as funny and charming as always. Additionally, more gameplay and things to do in the game are being added with each of the major updates as one of the upcoming features is gardening. But, is it all enough to keep interesting going for an extended period of time?

Depends on the player, really. I’ve met some people who have leveled up past 40 (yes, you gain levels as you raise friendships in this game) and others who have lost interest before reaching 10. The game rewards you for playing each day, and the animals cycle through every few hours in order to gain new tasks. Honestly, in small dosages Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is perfect as it has just enough of a mix from the main series to keep it interesting if not abused. Unlike the main series which can be played for hours on end, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is just a version to be played whenever you’re riding the train or bored at work for a few minutes. The simplified tasks mean that if you’re after a specific animal it doesn’t take much effort to recruit them, the ease of gathering means grinding is much easier than in previous games. You’re not even really required to spend money on the game as almost everything is reachable within seconds and a bit of patience will yield results.

It’s true that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp does not have all of the features loved by the players from the main game series, but as someone who has played all of them, I can honestly say I remember a time when it was pretty barebones. Anyone familiar with Doubutsu No Mori on the Nintendo 64 will remember how many of the faces in New Leaf were missing, and how basic it was originally. I still loved the games back then, but they were simple and rudimentary, a nice relaxing stroll along the forest filled with your friends going about their daily lives with not a care in the world. Where the biggest issue would be who took their Pocket Pikachu or Gameboy and forgot to bring it back. It’s not for everyone, but Pocket Camp certainly fills a niche which has been empty in the last few years.

The implications of these image are terrifying…

Grab some juice and relax!

Available now on iOS and Android.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp