Now I’ve been playing the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp app obsessively for a few weeks, and my initial delirious excitement has waned a little, I feel like I can review it a bit more objectively. If I’d have done a review the first week it came out it would probably have just read, “This is the best thing to ever happen in my life,” accompanied by a photo of my life spiralling out of control while I neglected all my real world chores.
To say I was excited about this app coming out is an understatement. I was so excited. I used to play Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS, and I loved it. An app seemed like a logical step that took far too long to become a reality, and I was positively salivating at the thought of getting a version of Animal Crossing that would literally be centimetres from my hands 24 hours a day.
Did it live up to the hype? I think so. Aside from a few teething problems with the server when it first went live, the game is hugely playable and just as cute and addictive as the DS version. It’s transferred well to an app, and I was impressed with how moving the character around felt so similar to how it did on the DS.
The aim of the game is to attract animal friends to your campsite, and you do this by crafting furniture and building different tents to attract them. In order to be able to invite animals to visit your campsite you need to build up your friendship levels to a certain point, and also fulfill specific furniture criteria for each guest. I felt mildly put out that I had to furnish my living space in a certain way before these very particular creatures would agree to visit me, but their little happy faces when they’re sitting on the chair you crafted for them more than makes up for their bizarre diva-like demands.
In order to craft furniture you have to complete requests for the animals visiting other areas of the game, taking them fruit, bugs and fish to make them happy. When you complete the request you are given materials such as cotton, steel and wood which you use to order the furniture. These transactions lead to golden moments like when I asked my 40-year-old brother what he was doing and he replied,”I just have to deliver these bugs to an eagle.”
The animal guests are all outrageously cute (I’m thinking specifically of Lily the frog and Apple the hamster right now, and also props to Filbert the whatever he is), and the furniture and tents are so kitsch – it’s all perfect. I’ve been a big fan of the Christmas themed clothes and furniture too, immediately donning full Santa regalia as soon as it became available. I’m so festive right now.
But my favourite thing about it so far? There’s no weeding! Thank you, Nintendo, from delivering us from the evil that was incessant daily weeding.
So, what’s wrong with it? Downloads. There are lots of downloads, and every time I see the download prompt flash up I worry about my poor phone’s memory, and how it’s going to cope with yet another dollop of data. I understand these are necessary for new content, but if it comes down to a choice between having room on my phone for Animal Crossing, or having room for boring things like my banking app, or non-essential things such as phone calls, text messages and emails, I’m going to choose Animal Crossing, and then my life really will be out of control. Can you delete the phone function off your phone to clear memory? Asking for a friend…
My only other niggle about the game is the long-term playability. Not that I like to brag, but I hit the limit of how many friends I can host at my camp weeks ago. Yes, you can rotate them out once you hit the limit, but how long am I going to want to keep playing now that I can’t really progress any further? The novelty of the game hasn’t worn off yet, but I suspect they might have to bring in a lot of new features to keep people playing for longer than a few months.
All in all, I feel like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp didn’t disappoint. It was never going to create the same buzz as Pokemon Go did, but one thing it has over Pokemon is that you can play behind closed doors, and nobody knows how much time you’re wasting trying to buy friendship with Hamlet the hamster by bringing him peaches and olive flounders. And that said, I have to go now, I urgently need to deliver some bugs to an eagle…