Camping with friends
My love affair with Animal Crossing began in 2003, a year after the GameCube version was released in the U.S. It wasn’t enough to merely start a life with a character — known as Rubes(kitty) — in my procedurally generated town known as Tokyo; I had to collect everything in my catalogue, build my house into a mansion and catch every insect and fish just for completion sake. In the ensuing 16 years, I have played every iteration of Animal Crossing available. So, you can imagine my palpable joy when a mobile version of Animal Crossing was announced in 2016. Cue Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in 2017, and I’m still going strong in my quest to build the perfect camp.
Pocket Camp is a spinoff of the main Animal Crossing series but retains elements of the series. Familiar tasks such as paying off your debt for your living quarters, completing requests for animals that visit or improving your finances through item sales are abundant in the Pocket Camp landscape. New to the series is the timed rotation of the animals that are in one of four locations scattered around the landscape. Four animals will be in these locations with options to talk to you and request items; whether you choose to give them the specific items they request or just chat it up for experience points is up to you. Also new are the aforementioned experience points. Each animal has a meter that gauges their friendship level with you. The higher the level, the more rewards they give in exchange for items they request. The rewards are also new, usually in the form of Leaf Tickets and raw materials that are used in crafting furniture and clothes that can be used to decorate your camp site and RV.
Pocket Camp, in its most simplistic form, is a dumbed down portable Animal Crossing main game that requires inventory management and micro transactions. And it’s a satisfying way to get that quick Animal Crossing fix. Much like the main series, it’s relaxing and fun to pop in and check with the camp site to see what’s happening, pick up some gifts or get involved in festivals and events at my own leisure. Time is still measured realistically, and insects and fish are still viable at certain times, though the season requirement is not in use. Money is still practically around every corner, and it’s easier than ever to pay off the debt of upgrading your humble abode when rare bugs and fish are more plentiful this time around. It’s also quite nice to be able to buy items from other players worldwide in an item marketplace with the Market Boxes option. The economy that has developed still has some work to do, but the ability to find rare insects, fruit, shells and fish for sale from other friends and strangers is a great start.
For a longtime Animal Crossing player, the fun in Pocket Camp is immediately there but not without some caveats. After a certain point, the in-game currency of Bells ceases to be a problem. While scarce in the early going, Bells aren’t an issue once the final upgrade for the RV is obtained and paid off. I now regularly have about 1.8 million Bells on hand daily and can’t spend it fast enough on things other than crafting and a rare item inventory economy that has conveniently sprung up in my friends list. This is like the issue of Bells in the main series so while it’s not surprising, it’s still an issue that needs to be remedied with more things to do. And, the price of Leaf Tickets is a bit much. Their addition is helpful, but their pricing should be adjusted. Also, in-game currency should be allowed to be used to buy Leaf Tickets. That would give another reason to hoard money later in the game.
While it might not be a mainline game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is still a neat and welcome addition to the Animal Crossing franchise. With its continued updates and additions, the Animal Crossing population is still growing.