“Know what? I thought of you the other day, and it filled me with warm, fuzzy feelings!”
-Bunnie, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
“The following is a guest post by the Final Fourteenth Mage.”
There are few times when being an Australian gamer is actually beneficial. One such occasion – being able to play Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, as similarly to Pokémon Go it seems that Australia has been used to ‘soft launch’ the game.
I have always wanted to like Animal Crossing. It seems like my kind of game. I even imported the Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS XL console from the United Kingdom! I played a bit of New Leaf but the idea of having to consistently play to the detriment of other games was hard for me to accept. Nevertheless I figured I would give Pocket Camp a try.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is an incredibly charming game which puts you in control of a campsite. In true Animal Crossing style, you furnish and decorate your campsite to your tastes; your goal in these decoration choices are to entice familiar Animal Crossing animals to stay at your campsite by building relationships with them via completing favours for them, talking to them and styling your campsite to the animals’ tastes so that they want to visit.
The map consists of locations you can visit to collect insects, fish and harvest fruit. The game runs on a three hour cycle where the fruit regrows and the animals shift at each location, allowing you to complete requests for a different set of three. Completing these quests are necessary in order to obtain materials to craft furniture and other decorative objects for both your campsite and camper van.
This in itself is fairly simple and straightforward.
As a free-to-play mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp does feature microtransactions and these are in the form of “Leaf Tickets”. There are two main ways that these tickets are used. Firstly, if you are short on supplies and want to craft an item, you can substitute an amount of tickets depending on what materials you are missing to craft the item. Secondly, each item has its own time duration for construction and you can have the item constructed instantly. Thirdly, there are special items that you can use the Leaf Tickets to buy. At the time of this writing both Tom Nook and K.K. Slider’s chairs can be purchased with Leaf Tickets so that they can visit your campsite.
The game, whilst charming, does get rather… mundane fast. The rhythm of collecting resources, giving them to the visiting animals and then crafting furniture does get boring. Some variety in the conversations you have with the animals – which mainly feel like mini tutorials that are useless after the first couple of levels – would be fantastic. More varied items to collect, especially insects, would be a bonus. The option to craft clothes is still listed as ‘coming soon’ and I have to wonder if that will be released to coincide with the November release. Currently the only way to obtain clothing is to see what is currently being sold at random and buy it.
The 8-Bit Review
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp boasts a really cute art-style! There is such a large variety of animals, each with their own fashion choice and personality clearly visible through their design. It’s hard to choose between who I want to stay at my camp as there’s so many to choose from.
The objects that you can craft and the individualised camp sites that a player can create are fantastic. I’ve visited a vast number of people’s camp sites now and I’ve never seen two that look alike. There’s just too much variety in what one can choose to decorate that it’s practically impossible.
As you complete requests or build certain amenities on your campsite you are often given a small cutscene. Whilst a little repetitive, these again are incredibly cute and are a great way to break up some of the more mundane tasks or in the case of the completion of a new amenity to celebrate how far you’ve come in the game.
The gameplay is well… basic. Very basic in fact, which whilst making it accessible to both veterans and newcomers of the series, doesn’t make for a very engaging game. The game consists of tapping on a butterfly to capture it, tapping on an apple to pick it up and then tapping on an animal to give them the objects they requested of you. You are then rewarded with materials that you can use to create furnishings for your camp site and camper van. The game is a never ending cycle of collecting resources, delivering them, receiving materials and then crafting those said materials. Which is the essence of Animal Crossing but it just seems like a lite version of the game. One of the first things that I noticed was there was no encyclopedia for resources you collect; nothing at all in the catalog. This dampened my excitement for bug collecting and fishing as I always enjoy being able to see a list of what I have found.
The biggest challenge in regards to gameplay comes in the form of needing to rely on five other people to help you enter Shovelstrike Quarry. This design was undoubtedly chosen to encourage Leaf Ticket use, but all it does is lead me to avoid the Quarry entirely.
Out of everything in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, it is the narrative that lets it down the most. There’s just nothing there to keep you involved. Once you’ve established your campsite that’s the end of any narrative that you’ll find throughout the game. When you go out of your way to talk to animals that you’ve befriended most of the time they will do little more than tell you a very basic tip for the game that is something that you would have done from the very beginning.
I’m not expecting intense lore from the game but just expanding the animals dialogue to have them say new things as your friendship level increases would be a much needed addition to keep interactions feeling fresh and less like a chore.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp allows you to add people to your friends list via friend code, social media or finding players at various locations throughout the game. Making friends has two practical uses. Firstly adding people allows you to buy things that they have collected from their Market Box. However, I have played it daily since release and am currently level thirty-one, and am yet to have a reason to buy things from other players. I understand that this can make you complete animal requests faster, but most of the requested items are simple to find and you hardly need to go out of your way to do so.
The second use is to get into a quarry where you get to break stones to find different stones and minerals; the rarer you find the higher your reward. The catch here is that you need to either use Leaf Tickets to enter, or request five friends to help you enter. In theory this is easy and at first when I was playing I was able to use this method. However as players have dropped off I haven’t been able to enter as often as I used to. The biggest flaw in this system is there is no notification that someone has requested your help. You have to go into your friends list and see if they have a little shovel icon next to their name. This is easily forgotten and I myself tend to only check when I’ve gotten a notification due to something else.
There’s one last way that you can interact with your friends and that is through the Kudos system. This system is very basic in nature, and the only reason I participated in it was due to the fact it was often a timed goal. It seems that the only reason the Kudos system even exists is to encourage you to check out other peoples camp sites.
Family Friendliness: 10/10
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is delightful with it’s colourful characters and basic game play. The game is as wholesome as they come, and as a parent myself I am happy for my little one to muck around with the game; less so for the unavoidable destruction of my campsite.
The only aspect of the game that I would be hesitant about in regards to children is the microtransactions. I debated lowering the score due to younger family members being able to access and purchase them. However, I decided to stick with my score as in this day and age most people have their account password protected and should definitely be doing so before giving their young child a phone that can access microtransactions.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is simplistic in design with everything clearly explained to you at the start of the game. Dialogue with the numerous animals you befriend in the game is often filled with reminders on certain aspects of the game. Newcomers to Animal Crossing will feel right at home with this title as it can be described as an ‘Animal Crossing Lite’. The amount of objects you can craft and animals you can befriend slowly increases as the player levels up; there’s never a feeling of being overwhelmed as the game sets a good pace. Even at the higher levels it doesn’t feel like a chore to level up and continuation is encouraged. Leveling up also provides the player with free Leaf Tickets which is always a nice touch when there are aspects of the game that require them e.g. Tom Nook and K.K. Slider.
I’m a sucker for checklists and collecting things so when I saw the catalog that told you how many furniture, clothes and amenities you had out of the total amount I knew that I had fallen down the rabbit hole. This game demands very little from you in regards to your time. You open it up, help the animals, collect the resources available and add something to craft. This could take me from as little as five minutes to twenty minutes at the most if I needed something specific. The short play sessions are a good way to stop from being burnt out from the game and encourage the player to keep coming back to check their campsite.
My Personal Grade: 8/10
I really enjoyed my time with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am still playing it numerous times a day. I check it every few hours to see if I can complete more tasks, get into the quarry or if my furniture has finished crafting. The only things that let it down for me is the fact that the multiplayer is incredibly shallow. I’m not expecting some deep co-operative experience but basic functions like being alerted to a friend’s request would be a much welcome addition. Also, the fact that clothing crafting is currently not in the game leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Even if the current release was a ‘soft release’ I still believe that they should have finished that feature before releasing the game. Otherwise the game ticks all of my boxes for a mobile game that I can pick up and play on the go and I can’t see myself putting it down anytime soon.
Aggregated Score: 7.6
The Final Fourteenth Mage has the weight of her backlog on her shoulders as she scours the internet searching for her next favourite game. You may know her as Priscilla Cullen and can read more of her musings at Cilla vs. Games.
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!