Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp – A cute and engaging getaway

Dec 5, 2017

Nintendo has brought its popular Animal Crossing series to mobile. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp puts the player in charge of a cute camping retreat.

Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for blasting fools, smashing stuff up, or solving mind-bending puzzles. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offers a pleasant, relaxing experience where crafting, trade, customisation, and building friendships are the tasks at hand. In real life, camping can sometimes be a horrendous bug-ridden or weather-beaten affair that can only be endured by getting blind drunk. But in this game, it’s an idyllic, always-sunny super fun time. The title has a sweet and colourful aesthetic, consistent with past releases of the series, and a pleasant, chilled-out soundtrack. 

You can also customise your camper van, but sadly there isn’t an option for you to make it into a Breaking Bad-style meth lab.

The object of the game is shown through a vision experienced by one of the world’s anthropomorphic animals, Goldie the dog. He sees your camp full of visitors and wonderful stuff. You can even unlock a carousel! To make this come true, the player must explore the world to gather resources and trade with the uniquely-designed, quirky animals as well as other players. Amenities, items, and furniture for the camp can be crafted using resources and some currency. And you can get the critters to visit by improving your friendship level with them. Sucking up to them, basically. You can also encounter other players and become friends. But be prepared to simmer with envy when you visit a player’s camp that’s full of cool stuff and lots of animals. The fancy-pants show-off! The game is easy to get to grips with, and there are plenty of tutorials and helpful tips.

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Customisation starts right from the off: the player can determine how their character looks, and the campsite’s basic design can be chosen from templates such as ‘natural’, ‘cute’, ‘sporty’ or ‘cool’. You can also customise your camper van, but sadly there isn’t an option for you to make it into a Breaking Bad-style meth lab. At the in-game auto shop, OK Motors, major camper upgrades can land you with a heavy debt, which you can re-pay via the loan menu. It’s unsettling that the seemingly-lovable characters would do this. What happens if you never pay it back? Maybe they send a badger round to break your character’s kneecaps? Regardless, it seems the game is setting up the post-millennial generation for a future of never really being on top of their finances, which is quite morally responsible when you think about it.

The game is ad-free, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is surprisingly easy going when it comes to in-app purchasing. The player can gain a good amount of the major currency (called Leaf tickets) after getting started, and the game is never pushy about encouraging the player to buy more. This is welcome from a player perspective, but initial reports of Nintendo not making much money from the game come as little surprise.

There is plenty to keep the player coming back. There are log-in bonuses, ‘timed goals’, and ‘stretch goals’, which are basically the game’s achievements. There are also events: presently there is a holiday event going on, where festive clothing and furniture can be unlocked by spending candy canes, which are gained as an additional in-game currency.

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp isn’t for gamers looking for a heavy challenge, but for those who enjoy resource gathering and have a digital nesting instinct, it’s a relaxing way to pass the time. It’s pleasant for the senses, easy to pick up, and has plenty of longevity. It also provides a unique situation where a bear coming to your camp is ok because it won’t eat you. Or at least the bear is pretending it won’t.

Our Rating

Lovely visuals and soundtrack. Easy to pick up. Customisation. Longevity. Doesn’t push micro-transactions. Not much for gamers looking for a challenge.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Price: Free+
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