When I think of the term “simulation” in gaming, my thoughts often swing to hyper-realistic titles like Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, or the widely beloved and heavily micromanaged Sims series, but in the days of the N64, Nintendo came out with a charming series known as Animal Crossing that completely changed my perception of what a simulation game could be. Fast forward to modern day and Nintendo has started releasing mobile games utilizing a popular swath of beloved, previously console restricted, franchises on android and iOS, the newest of which is Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. Does Nintendo keep to the tried and true feel of the Animal Crossing games in their new mobile iteration? Here is our Animal Crossing Pocket Camp Review.
In Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, the entire premise of the game is to build a camp community, not just with the animals that saunter about their respective campsites but with other players you may encounter along the way. In the prior iterations of Animal Crossing, community interaction was somewhat limited to those you knew, or in the case of the very first animal crossing, it was geared towards only local console play. In terms of how Nintendo has widened the scope of potential player interactions, ACPC feels closer to what a community simulator should be, although I wouldn’t go so far as to consider this an MMO in the traditional sense. While you can pop over and visit other players’ camps, there is no direct interaction with other players. You can’t run around and fish together, or see people going about their tree shaking business.
As you speak and complete “quests” for your animal friends and gain their favor, you also level up your character which unlocks new items you can craft, and level bonuses that can be anywhere from a leaf ticket (currency purchased with real money), to bells (in game currency), to crafting materials. Graphically, ACPC doesn’t divert from its origins nearly at all. While the textures may be a little bit better, Animal Crossing was never really known for being graphically pleasing, instead vying for simplistic cartoon stylistics to complement the cute “animalese” gibberish long time Animal Crossers have come to know and love. The simplified character models make it easy for facial and bodily expressions, as well as applying new accessories to your character, campsite, and RV. While this could be deigned as being childish in its purest form, I’ve always felt this was one of Animal Crossings many charms.
When it comes to gameplay, Nintendo simply asked themselves, “why mess with a working formula?” and not only kept some of the primary activities you encounter in Animal Crossing games, but even simplified the controls for touch screens. A tap of the button will shake a tree to nab some fruit, catch a fish, pick up sea shells, and with a couple taps through the menu, it will allow you to craft and arrange furniture. To put it simply, my significant other that can’t hold a controller without it exploding found the game easy to understand, and adorable as she spends way too much time collecting butterflies to place in her market box. Just when you thought it was impossible to make a game more accessible, Nintendo found a way to do it. Whereas the gameplay isn’t a contention point for me, what I disliked was the departure from making a larger, cohesive play area.
For example, now in ACPC activities are broken up by area. There is one specified area where you can use a net to catch bugs, and one dedicated area for fishing in the ocean. As soon as you use the map to zone into these areas, you automatically have equipped the instrument you need. That means you won’t find bugs near the ocean or catch fish in a pond near the orchard. They also removed the axe and the shovel, which was one of my most favorite past times in previous games, digging for fossils, because I’ll never realistically get to live out my dream of being a Paleontologist. Despite the missing tools and no Museum to submit your findings to, the game still finds ways to be enjoyable which includes shopping at Tommy Nooks store, (Tom Nook is hard at work in his shop somewhere), visiting the Able sisters, upgrading your RV and campsite, and general tomfoolery with your best animal pals.
As an Animal Crossing fan, this mobile jaunt has given me mixed feelings. Many of my favorite pieces were woven into Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, but it also came up short in many areas that gave me a lasting appeal in the earlier games. While I feel like Nintendo has juiced the previous games and imparted the essence into mobile for the masses, I worry that they may not have gone far enough to guarantee lasting replay value. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp can still grow and change, as things like crafting clothing hasn’t made it into the game yet, so more features are surely coming, but until then Nintendo has managed to make a relaxing, casual, community light game accessible to all ages. What’s even better is that it’s free, and plentiful in resources to keep you interested for several campfires worth of play time. Check out Animal Crossing Pocket Camp on iOS and Android for yourself and let us know what you think.
- Animal Crossing antics & fun you can take anywhere
- Easily accessible to gamers of all ages
- A much wider world of friends to explore & interact with
- Fewer activities to do than other Animal Crossing Games
- Activities are split up by region
- Severely limited in how you can interact with other players