Listen. I’m gonna be super up front about this. This review is about two things: Gloating over the fact we got something before America, and showing off my sick fashion sense and style.
But in the name of journalistic integrity, let me at least try to talk a little about what this is, how it works, and why you, too, should sell your soul once more to the Animal Crossing universe.
You come into the world as the new camp coordinator. You’re given a brief overview of the controls, what things are, how things work, and what you’ll be doing before you’re unleashed to have a little look around and make some new friends.
The controls are a simple touch and drag interface to move around, pretty standard. It’s an Animal Crossing game, after all. Where it does differ from other games in the series, however, is… Pretty much everything else. It condenses the important parts down into a sweet phone friendly package.
The first and most important new feature is furniture crafting. Resource management is a big part of the game, as you need resources to craft furniture, tents and amenities. Crafting can take anywhere from 60 seconds through to 48 hours for a complete product. Possibly more! Who knows, maybe I’m just not quite there yet. But of course, once you have said furniture/tent/whatever your heart desired and crafted into reality, you can go ahead and place it either in your camper or at your campsite.
The camper is the ingame excuse for how you can travel around to different areas of the campsite. You have your main camping area, which you can decorate and invite animals to, and then everything else. These serve as a sort of way to gather the traditional fish, fruit and bugs from the series, as well as locations for animals to set up camp.
Animal friendships are separated into levels, which are ranked up via completing requests. Which involve giving the animals the aforementioned fruit, fish and bugs. They then give you crafting materials and bells (currency) in return. After ranking them to a certain point, you can invite them to hang out at your campsite. But only if you meet their very picky and honestly kind of rude requirements, which usually means having very specific pieces of furniture out for them to admire. The animals also rotate every three hours, making sure you always have someone new to talk to and befriend.
Of course, animals aren’t the only one you can befriend. While it’s not as interactive as hanging out with friends in real time, you can still add friends and visit their campers and campsites, see them existing out in the world on the map and buy those pesky fish from them that you just can’t manage to catch yourself. Or anything else they might have on offer. Though it is a pretty barebones system at the moment with very little interaction.
There’s also a marketplace, where you can buy clothes, shoes and furniture you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. At least for now, while the clothes crafting system is still under construction.
And I think that’s the biggest issue at the moment, that a lot of this game is still under construction. The official worldwide release is for late November, and hopefully that will come with all kinds of goodies and updates to keep the game fresh and interesting. Right now I’m certainly still playing and invested, if only because I need to get my campsite perfect and befriend every possible cat this game has to offer, but I find myself running into the same personality types time and time again. I can predict their dialogue. I know it’ll be the same fetch quests. Even the conversation options are starting to repeat themselves.
The game does promise events, and hopefully there will be even more options for customization in the future, more areas to visit and more types of animals to meet. Because as it stands, I can see myself giving this maybe another week or so at best and then putting it down and waiting until the full release comes out to see if there’s any updates. Though if you’re the sort of person who loves to destress and take a few minutes a day then this might actually be perfect.
Still, I absolutely welcome Nintendo’s foray into the world of mobile gaming. It’s pretty light on the microtransactions, using ‘leaf tickets’ as real world currency. Which is just a way to speed up crafting or material collection, and you get plenty of them through normal gameplay as well.
And so, for now, I find myself drawn back into this dang world. One day Animal Crossing will release its soft, furry grip on my soul. But today isn’t that day.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is out right now for iOS and Android.