review | animal crossing: pocket camp

review | animal crossing: pocket camp

Back in 2004, when GameCubes were new and amazing, little 4th grade me used to sneak downstairs in the early, early morning. I was only allowed a few video game hours a day (anyone else have that too?) so I’d “beat the system” by waking up before my parents. Ninety percent of the time, the game I’d play at 5-something a.m. was the original Animal Crossing. I still think the game’s early morning music is so soft and perfect.

Long story short: Animal Crossing, like, speaks to my soul. I’m obsessed. And Pocket Camp happened to come out on my one day off from work. I saw on Twitter that the app was “leaked” early and I basically lunged across the bed for my charger and phone. Cleaning the bedroom? Doing laundry? Feeding myself something more than just Cheez-Its? No thank you. I just snuggled under the covers and started tapping away at every cute animal friend in sight Goldie, plz love me.

It’s been about a month now since Pocket Camp came out, and in the time that’s passed I’ve gotten a good feel for the game. Putting together my fangirl heart and analyst brain, here’s a few spoiler-free pros and cons!

  • THE NOSTALGIA: This one is pretty obvious. If you’re a big Animal Crossing fan like me (and have been starving for a new AC game since 20-freakin’-12) then you’ll be happy to finally get your fix. Pocket Camp brings back all the old feels, with everything from your favorite animals to the happy little “bah-loop!” sound when you pick up fruit. Even though the set-up doesn’t really involve a “village” like every other game, all the music and charm is exactly what you’d expect.
  • CUTE AND QUICK: Like most apps, the gameplay itself is pretty simple. There’s a lot of harvesting (fish, bugs, etc) and a lot of tapping through quirky little convos with villagers. Pocket Camp is very easy to start and quick to pick up on. Between cute animals and a ton of rewards, the game is good at keeping you hooked and entertained — levels 1-15 fly by.
  • NO “PAY TO PLAY”: One of the biggest concerns fans had about an AC app was that it would be super “pay to play”: aka, that real life money to buy add-ons would be needed in order to progress. I’m happy to say that isn’t the case. Even though the game’s “Leaf Tickets” do have an impact – which I’ll talk about in a sec – the core game stays very similar for those of us on a budget. Collecting items and making friends is just as easy without spending a dime.
  • LIMITED & REPETITIVE: Even though Pocket Camp is super easy to learn, there’s only so much you can really…do. While main series games give you the freedom to explore and build, Pocket Camp has a limited amount of tasks you can accomplish (although it refreshes every three hours). The game is definitely made to be played in short bursts. Grinding away isn’t really a thing — unless you’re ready to pay real money.
  • BIG DIFFICULTY JUMPS: Even though the early levels click by crazy fast, after 15 or so it makes a sharp jump. And it’s not even the leveling up itself that changes. It’s more about crafting, decorating, and collecting things you need to make your place your own. Basically, if you want to keep doing any personalizing for your area, the sheer amount of materials it takes gets kinda crazy high. The game does this because they want you to buy Leaf Tickets, which can be used in place of any materials you lack. But that’s the hard part: past level 15 or so, you’re often stuck between taking many days to make one item or just spending some real life money instead.
  • LACK OF PERSONALIZATION: One of the best parts of Animal Crossing is seeing how all your friends’ decorate differently, making villages that reflect parts about them. No two towns are the same. Yet the way things work in Pocket Camp, your character slowly unlocks new items and furniture each time you level up. Unfortunately, since everyone’s unlocking the same things at the same time, most areas look super similar. When you only have so many options for decorating, it takes some excitement out of doing up your place.

Even though I have a fair amount of critiques for Pocket Camp, I’ve actually still been really enjoying it. The game def isn’t a full title, and it’s more meant to be played in 10-15 minute bursts throughout the day, but it still has the charm of every other Animal Crossing game. There are a few things I wish I could change — the main one being more random furniture and decorating items, so that there’s a bit more variety between friends. But even though I went in perhaps expecting a little too much (five years without a game, guys, five asldfjsd years) once I changed my scope I’ve been able to keep having fun.