Animal Crossing Pocket Camp: It's A Good Game, Brent

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Animal Crossing Pocket Camp: It's good, y'all. (c) Nintendo

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp successfully preserves the charm and simplicity of the original while tweaking their formula for mobile. The microtransactions, timers and increased simplicity of gameplay are the source of considerable angst among series purists, but Animal Crossing Pocket Camp remains a successful, entertaining and addictive twist on the franchise anyway.

Instead of being mayor of a whole town, you are responsible for a single campsite. You customize your campsite by adding up to two amenities in either cool, sporty, natural or cute styles. You can also add a slew of furniture to your campsite, much of which will be familiar if you’ve played Animal Crossing before.

Unlike in previous entries, however, you craft almost all of your furniture using steel, wood, paper, and other materials. You get these materials by running errands and befriending the local animals, each of whom will give you a different assortment of stuff to craft with.

As you befriend the animals, you’ll gain the ability to invite them to your campsite. Before they’ll deign to join you, however, you’ll have to craft the items they love best. Luckily, the game has a convenient auto-arrange feature that lets you place the items out just long enough to make the little buggers happy without losing your original design. Animals can also make requests, and you can talk to them quite frequently for small amounts of materials and even bells.

Crafting takes time, and as you progress through the game crafting very quickly starts to take lots of time. In addition, animals move from place to place only every three hours. If timers bother you, you will be annoyed. You can use Leaf Tickets, the game’s premium currency, to instantly complete any crafted item (and to make up the difference if you don’t have enough materials for an item). If gentle reminders of a premium currency’s existence and purpose bother you, you will be annoyed.

However, the game hands out Leaf Tickets like candy every time you gain a level, which you do by leveling up your friendship with the local animals. Every time you level up, you gain access to new crafts and at least one new animal. I’m at level 32 and have yet to run out of items or animals. You don’t need to use Leaf Tickets for anything, but you can if you want. There are also Request Tickets, which trigger a new round of animal requests. This comes in handy if you’re trying to make friends with a particular animal quickly, or get more crafting materials as a reward.

The Animal Crossing Pocket Camp map is split into areas based on what you do there: there’s an insect-catching island, a river-fishing area and a beach-fishing area. Unlike other titles, the fish swim right to your bait and the insects basically walk into your net. Some have decried this simplicity and utility-based separation as a dastardly dilution of Animal Crossing ’s rustic charm, but it makes perfect sense for a mobile user playing in brief snatches of time. If Apple wants butterflies, you don’t have to waste any time wandering the wild woods for one: just go to the insect-catching island and go catch some.

That being said, there will be times when the butterflies or fish you need just don’t appear, and that’s where Market Boxes kick in. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp lets you encounter other actual players as you go about your day fulfilling these lazy critters’ requests. All players have Market Boxes where they can sell items for whatever rate they want (capped by the game), so if you can’t find what you need, you can buy it.

There’s also a Market Place, where shops swap every few hours, as well as the new Shovelstrike Quarry. The Shovelstrike Quarry is yet another divisive element, because it requires you to ask five friends to help you access it, or spend 20 Leaf Tickets to get in. But all the Quarry offers is a couple extra bells and a crafting material, which you’ll get through regular gameplay anyway. I like asking friends to help me access it, because I like the reminder that other people are playing too. I like helping them and being helped by them in turn. Because the game offers you real players to befriend just in case you don’t have an expansive friend list, I’ve never needed to spend Leaf Tickets on the Quarry.

All in all, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp has well-designed, well-considered gameplay elements that work well together. While your timers are ticking, you can focus on hitting the daily Timed Goals or some of the tougher Stretch Goals. You can fish and catch bugs and chat with your animal pals at the campsite and visit your friends’ campsites and stock up on your Market Box.

The app is made so that you can dip in and out of it freely enough so you’re not a slave to it, while giving you enough sense of progression to be satisfying. The timers don’t bother me and I don’t consider the microtransactions intrusive. I really look forward to more content, like clothing crafting, new furniture and new animals. Best of all, this game reminded me that Animal Crossing New Leaf exists. Time to go weed my town!


Animal Crossing Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp: It's A Good Game, Brent
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp successfully preserves the charm and simplicity of the original while tweaking their formula for mobile.
  • Charming like the original
  • Fluid, sensible gameplay
  • Easy to find friends
  • Timers everywhere
  • Premium currency exists
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