Nintendo’s latest mobile game has been available in North America for over a week now. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp originally seemed like a fun way to play Animal Crossing on a mobile phone. Instead what is experienced is a mix of high quality graphics and poor mechanics. What we are ended up with is a confusing mobile game with the main goal of decorating a small plot of land known as your campsite.
The goal of Pocket Camp for the player is to visit various areas with villagers iconic to the franchise and invite them to your campsite. In these areas, players can collect bugs, fish, fruit or speak with the villager staying the day. Each villager will offer a few quests while they are visiting the area. After completing each request, the friendship level raises. Most of the NPCs will be able to visit your campsite after the friendship level reaches to 2. However, there is a large catch: players must have the villager’s favorite furniture crafted and on display in order for them to visit.
Crafting all these types of furniture at first seemed like fun yet after a day of playing it became a bit tiresome. Finding materials and collecting enough Leaf Tickets (a new form of currency used in conjunction with the iconic Bells) and then asking Cyrus to craft the item is a rather long way to go about buying a piece of furniture. Since Pocket Camp is a small game compared to the others in the series, it seems the developers thought adding the crafting element would help to fill out the game.
One of the most infuriating limitations of the game is the storage system. Almost every time I purposely visit areas to gather fruit, bugs, and fish, etc, I was given a message that my inventory is full unless I decide to use 20 Leaf Tickets to open up only 5 slots. To be perfectly honest, it would be better if Pocket Camp cost a total of $10 instead of using the pay-to-play system. It’s annoying to cautiously decide when to use Leaf Tickets or when using real money is worth it.
Another problem is the lack of skill required. In previous games, players had to learn to catch fish and bugs. Timing was everything and so was the time of day when hunting for goods. Now the fun and surprise has been stripped away. Less bugs and fish are in the mobile game and those that are available are collected merely by taping on the screen when the word “tap” appears. It feels as if that portion of the game is being played for you.
A few elements are enjoyable such as the crisp graphics and ability to friend anyone you meet in the gathering areas. Still there is no way to communicate with a friend within the app. The only way to tell someone you admire their campsite is to give them “kudos” on the menu screen. As adorable as the characters and graphics are it does not make up for the lack of content.
Basically, Pocket Camp has less freedom to explore and have fun. The requests seem more like chores because of the specific timings and the villagers only come to visit your campsite if you have ALL of their favorite furniture. It takes a while to eventually collect enough materials to enjoy the experience of decorating a personal campsite to fit your individual personality.
At the end of the day, this game is fun to play in very short increments. But Animal Crossing veterans will know the pain of waiting for a Switch game. The longer I spend in the game app, the more the limitations of the game makes it feel small. And the more I miss playing New Leaf. Mobile games are fun for a moment, and yet the full experience of a proper game is missed greatly. Especially the feeling of relaxation. Where New Leaf feels like a mental and emotional vacation, Pocket Camp tends to feel like work. Animal Crossing is a series filled with nostalgia, warmth and lovable characters and this mobile game only offers a tiny portion of the series’ great qualities.