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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) artwork

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) review

"Pocket Camp - Gotta host 'em all!"

EDIT: The game now offers overpriced subscription plans. It has become more and more of a grindfest over time. I personally stopped playing this when lootboxes were added to this game as "fortune cookies". As this is an expression of morally bankrupt greed, I've dropped the score to 0.5/5. It was a decent little time-waster when it was first released, but please be aware of how predatory this game is to younger people.

This review is based on version 0.9.0, which was released in Australia prior to the worldwide release. Version 1.0.0 mostly includes bug fixes and slight changes.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is the next title in Nintendoís foray into the world of mobile gaming and microtransactions. Pocket Camp is much more akin to a mainline Animal Crossing game than Happy Home Designer or Amiibo Festival. Like the title suggests, weíre stepping out of the town and into a campsite, but the usual elements are in place.

Instead of a house, you have a campervan. Itís quite small at first, but you can get yourself into increasingly larger debts to improve it. You can redecorate the interior and repaint the exterior. I find I barely step foot inside mine, though.

Instead of a town, you have a campsite which you can decorate with furniture from the familiar sets, as well as interactive items like musical instruments and playground equipment. Replacing the public works are amenities (starting with tents, to picnic area, to swimming pool). All furniture and amenities must be crafted with raw materials, such as wood, steel, cotton, etc. You collect these from animal visitors who will show up at the nearby locales.

Outside your campsite are a few areas you can visit. You can go fishing at the beach and the river, collect bugs from a small island, or collect fruit from trees in a picnic area. Thereís a marketplace with travelling merchants who rotate from time to time so you can buy furniture and clothing, thereís OK Motors, where a trio of pigeons will assist with campervan improvements and customisations, and thereís a quarry, which is a complete waste of time. Weíll come back to that.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) imageAnimal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) image

Scattered around these locations will be animal visitors. Thereís only 40 of them in the game at this point, and Iím hoping they will eventually add more, as Iíd like to see some more of my favourites as such as Marshall or Lucky. Villagers will ask for things, such as bugs or fish or fruit, and will reward you with raw materials and bells (money). There arenít that many different bugs and fish in the game Ė a handful of common types, and some rare types which animals might occasionally ask for, so you wonít need to go hunting for a Coelacanth or anything like that, and thereís not a seabass in sight.

The animals will stick around for 3 hour intervals, and you can do 3 favours for them in that time (you can earn cards that allow you to do additional favours, or summon an animal to that spot). Give them the items they want, and youíll earn friendship points, which levels up your relationship with that animal. You also have an overall friendship level which takes into account all of your friendships, and youíll be rewarded with more animals to meet, more inventory spots, leaf tickets and bells.

Once your relationship with an animal reaches a certain level, you can invite them to your campsite, provided you have the furniture they like. In the early part of the game, furniture is quite easy to produce, but later in the game, furniture can take hours to build, and requires ridiculous amounts of materials. Animal villagers fall under four types Ė natural, cool, cute, or sporty, and the amenities you build will belong to these same categories. Youíll need bigger and better amenities of each type to increase the level cap for each villager from 10 to 15 to 20. This is going to take a lot of raw materials, bells, and if youíre impatient, Leaf Tickets.

Leaf Tickets are the real currency in this game, and Tom Nook is happy to sell them to you for real money, although the game itself is generous with giving them out, especially at the start. Youíll receive 10 Leaf Tickets every time you level up. Youíll receive Leaf Tickets for completing Stretch Goals that Isabelle gives you (usually simple things like building certain furniture sets). Leaf Tickets can be used to speed up the game, basically. If you donít want to wait hours for something to be built, you can pay to have it finished instantly. If you donít have enough raw materials to build something, Leaf Tickets can be substituted. They usually require a lot of Leaf Tickets, and for someone like me who works full time and plays a bit here and there, Iím generally happy to start some furniture crafting and let it go during my work day or overnight.

There is another type of currency Iíve found much more useful Ė the MyNintendo points. Iíve had a bunch of these sitting around for ages, and itís nice to finally find a use for them. You can earn silver coins from Pocket Camp each week, and you can use those coins to purchase extra raw materials. Iíd much rather spend points on an extra 20 cotton than use real money to cover that with leaf tickets. You can earn hundreds of points by linking Pocket Camp to MyNintendo, Twitter, and Facebook.

Pocket Camp can be a bit sneaky sometimes. Sometimes multiple animals are going to request multiples of the same thing. Earlier this week, I had a surplus of monarch butterflies, so many I had to sell a few to other players, just to keep my inventory spots open. But just this morning, I kept getting hit with requests for multiple monarch butterflies, and when I went to catch some more, suddenly they were scarce. I suspect this mechanic is in place to get you to spend Leaf Tickets on items such as honey or nets that can catch multiple bugs or fish at once, but Nintendo undercut themselves by allowing you to make another kind of friend: other players.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) imageAnimal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android) image

Pocket Camp is a single player experience, but you can interact with others to an extent. Youíll find other players scattered around the campgrounds, and you can check out their campervans and visit their campsite (and give them kudos, if you think their campsite looks good Ė kudos doesnít seem to have any value except in completing some of Isabelleís stretch or daily goals). Each player also has a market box, where they can put things up for sale, like extra bugs, fish, fruit, and seashells. Itís in your interest to send a friend request to anyone you encounter, since once they are on your friends list, you can visit them any time and check their market box to see if they are selling what you need. One of my friends had three monarch butterflies for a pitiful 100 bells, which saved me some time. It was certainly better than spending 15 Leaf Points on honey. You can buy Leaf Tickets in various quantities - $1.49 for 20, $62.99 for 1200, and a few amounts in between.

The one area which I feel needs to be redeveloped is the quarry. You can pay 20 Leaf Tickets to access it, or you can send out a request to friends to help you, and once five friends send you their support, you can go in and break five rocksÖ and thatís it. The reward is miniscule, and was hardly worth the effort it took to get in. I did it once to complete the goal of visiting the quarry, and I havenít bothered going back. Over time, Iíve received less and less requests from friends to help them access it, too, so I think Nintendo are going to need to review this in a later version.

Pocket Camp runs reasonably well on my Samsung Galaxy S7, although Iíve had a few crashes. I never lose anything substantial, as the game autosaves often, and getting bumped to the title screen is not a huge inconvenience. It looks and sounds like an Animal Crossing game, and the visuals are sharper than they were in New Leaf.

I donít know if I can recommend this game or not. Itís not quite finished, and there are suggestions online that thereís more content coming once the game is released internationally. Pocket Camp is simple to pick up, and I have to admit I find it quite addictive, but itís also a fairly hollow experience. Iíve seen the same dialogue from villagers over and over. Iíve got my campsite looking how I like it. And I havenít bought a single leaf ticket yet, as the game has given me enough to unlock extra crafting slots, and purchase two special characters to sit in my campsite (Tom Nook and KK Slider). They donít really do much, but theyíre nice to have.

I will likely add to this review when we reach version 1.0, but I feel like what Iíve described is the core experience, and I donít see Nintendo changing it up too much.


jerec's avatar
Community review by jerec (November 12, 2017)

On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.

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jerec posted November 21, 2019:

I've updated this review slightly due to recent updates to the game.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 22, 2019:

WOW. I wasn't interested in this game before, but I'm even less interested now. I've begun avoiding most "freemium" games and loot boxes and all that (but you'll still have to pry Pokemon GO from my cold, dead hands). What utter garbage.
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jerec posted November 22, 2019:

It seems worse that this is coming from Nintendo, a company that generally has a good reputation, at least on the console. This also happened with the mobile Mario Kart game - just a shallow game designed to make you spend more money. Nintendo should be using its position of influence to say "just because a game is on mobile, doesn't mean it has to have lootboxes and overpriced subscriptions."

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honestgamer posted November 22, 2019:

Nintendo tried the other route with Super Mario Run, and consumers at large responded with so much anger that they finally had to go the same freemium route everyone else is following, and that consumers genuinely seem to want (for reasons that elude me).

I look at any freemium games as a chance to see just how far I can get without spending money on them, because anything else feels like using a cheat code. Besides, I'd generally rather spend actual money on, you know, actual games. But that puts me in the minority, judging by how many were begging Nintendo to do what they've now done in the likes of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and the new Mario Kart.

I'm not sure criticizing Nintendo and its development partners for doing what consumers overwhelmingly indicated they want makes a whole lot of sense, but I do think their approach with console games is still the better one. As long as the freemium approach doesn't spill too generously into their console output, I'll live. ;-)
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jerec posted November 22, 2019:

True. I'd have happily paid for a mobile Animal Crossing game, but it is built around grinding for materials, waiting for things to be built, and when Nintendo wants to charge a monthly price to "speed up the game" or even play it for you, you know the base game wasn't worth much to begin with. I felt my original review just didn't reflect what the game has become (and hasn't for a while, frankly).

It does feel like games like these are designed to draw people in over time, then they slowly edit the mechanics behind the scenes and introduce more things you need to pay for, and for many people who have put so much time into the game already, the sunk cost fallacy hits them hard and they continue to pay for a game that isn't fun. You'll never collect everything and finish, because they'll just keep adding more. It becomes a struggle to keep up, and people will either play for hours every day, or they'll pay, because they don't want to miss out. That's why I had to stop, because I realised how much time I was spending on this game, and scheduling my life around it. I did drop a bit of money on leaf tickets early on just to show my support.

With Mario Kart Tour, they were at least upfront about how much the game was intending to cost you. And from what I've seen of that, it's not a very good game.

Nintendo are better than this.

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