“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” is Nintendo’s newest addition to the “Animal Crossing” series. It makes a good addition to the series, as it remains true to the original games without watering it down for the mobile platform, and strengthens Nintendo’s lineup of mobile applications.
“Pocket Camp” surpassed my expectations. As the first mobile “Animal Crossing” installment, players did not really know what to expect. Its unveiling revealed that it would be much like a regular “Animal Crossing” game, with several key elements returning, which was a pleasant surprise.
“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” revolves around the player completing quests from their villagers, the animals that live on the island with the player. These quests grant the player experience points, so they can level up, and in-game currencies. Bells, the main in-game currency, can also be collected through other means, such as selling fish, bugs and fruit found around the island.
Fish and bugs can be acquired by using fishing rods or bug nets, just like the previous installments in the series. Fruit is shaken down from trees scattered around the island. However, instead of playing in a town and having a house, it takes place on a campsite, and the player lives inside of a customizable tent.
All these features that fans of the series are familiar with are enticing, but a great deal of new aspects keep the app from becoming stagnant. Although the furniture system returns, it is now achieved in a different manner than before. Rather than simply buying it, players now must collect materials to craft it by completing quests for villagers. The crafting system is an interesting approach for an “Animal Crossing” installment, but I think it’s a natural fit for the series.
Completing quests raises the players’ friendship levels with the villagers, encouraging the user to talk to the villagers often and form stronger relationships with them. By leveling up, the player is rewarded with unlocking new furniture, Bells or the new in-game currency, Leaf Tickets. Leaf Tickets can be used to buy specific items such as throw nets and honey, both of which are new. The tickets can also be purchased through micro-transactions, starting at 99 cents for 20.
Throw nets and honey affect how the player can catch bugs and fish. The nets are used to catch multiple fish at once, speeding up the process by a considerable amount. Honey works in a similar way, by attracting multiple bugs that can be caught at once. Both items are helpful to the player, but they are not necessary to enjoy the installment. These are mostly made available through micro-transactions, and although they’re useful, they are not required. I personally liked to buy them whenever I could through normal in-game methods, such as completing quests, but I would not spend actual money on them.
I believe “Animal Crossing” has always been a good fit for mobile devices. Having it on your phone allows you to play it for short amounts of time throughout the day and keep up the relationships with your villagers, without needing to wait until you get home and play on a console. I found myself playing whenever I had downtime, but rarely felt like I had to play for hours on end, like with the previous installments. It has enough features to allow sporadic play to be fulfilling, but not enough that the player gets overwhelmed and feels like they must keep playing.
In its current state, “Pocket Camp” seems simple, but there’s several new things that weren’t present before, making it a notable addition to the series. The micro-transactions are not invasive. Although they provide convenience, the game can be played completely free without them. Nintendo has done a good job of translating the core “Animal Crossing” experience onto a mobile phone platform and including new aspects to keep the game from becoming dull.