Animal Crossing Pocket Camp review: Moving back in

Credit: Nintendo
Credit: Nintendo /

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offers everything you can reasonably expect from a mobile Animal Crossing game, and is sure to make you smile.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Android (Version reviewed), iOS
Release Date: November 21, 2017

We want an Animal Crossing on Wii U. We want an Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch. We got an Animal Crossing on mobile, but no one seems to be complaining. Because even if it doesn’t quite capture the fullness of a proper Animal Crossing title on a Nintendo platform, Pocket Camp nonetheless brings an addictive brightness to our phones that’s more than enough for the medium.

The goals of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp are loosely defined. You are given a large-ish camp space to customize with furniture that you craft with basic materials. These materials are obtained by completing requests from adorable Animal Crossing creatures that you can meet in small areas outside that camp. To complete these requests, you’ll need to do typical Animal Crossing tasks like catch bugs or fish, shake down fruit or pick up shells. This raises their Friendship with you, and eventually opens the option to invite these creatures to visit your camp permanently…provided you’ve crafted furniture they like.

animal crossing pocket camp
Credit: Nintendo /

More from Reviews

In between, you can customize your character, campsite, and camper any way you like as new furniture unlocks for crafting and new amenities open up at later levels. What you set out at your campsite dictates what the villagers do while there, which can range from sleeping (an understandably popular attraction) to eating snacks to playing musical instruments. A fortunate “auto” button will place required furniture randomly at your campsite if you’re inviting a new animal, and then put it all away for you again once they’re satisfied and have agreed to stay, thus preserving the artistic integrity of your design.

That’s the game, and if that sounds simplistic and dull to you, you’ve probably never enjoyed an Animal Crossing game before. The rewards are largely twofold: you can get creative and design lovely spaces, and you can bask in the goofiness of your animal friends’ antics. Though the dialogue can be a touch repetitive, the enjoyment is largely in seeing What They Will Get Up To Next. New animals appear at every level, so even if you’ve tired of Goldie’s adorable dog face, Lillie will soon appear to make you smile again.

animal crossing pocket camp
Credit: Nintendo /

I might like playing this game too much.

It’s helpful, too, that while Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a free game (and thus could be forgiven for ads and microtransactions), it’s free of the former and gentle on the latter. Leaf Tickets can be bought with real money to expedite the game, but I’m at level 22, have been playing since the game released, and haven’t yet felt a serious need to partake. Sure, materials start to become scarce later on, but the constant rotation of animals makes it easy enough to be patient, put down the game, and wait a few more hours to get more Cotton. Leaf Tickets are also available via easy Stretch Goals and level ups, so you can buy the few upgrades you might want with those and save any extras for finishing especially tough projects.

There’s some social interaction. You can add friends and visit their camps to see their furniture layouts and purchase request items they have for sale in their Market Boxes, or give them a completely irrelevant Kudos (which usually fulfills a Daily Goal). That’s about it. I have never felt that any Animal Crossing game lived up to its social potential, so these stunted connection features are an expected disappointment. The inclusion of dreadful Friend Codes yet again is just icing on that cake.

animal crossing pocket camp
Credit: Nintendo /

My only other issue with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp isn’t quite a complaint. For a phone game, it actually requires too much of my time at once. Most other free games allow me to play in very short bursts before I run out of Crystals or Power or whatever. Pocket Camp is set up in such a way that it captivates the player for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. When you open the game, you’re drawn to visit all the new campers at different sites and collect more items for them. You probably want to finish a Daily Goal or two, craft some more items, check the shops, and of course, visit your own camp to see what the villagers have to offer. Without even realizing it, I’ve wasted 45 minutes doing all this, and now the villagers are about to rotate out again, starting it all over. When I don’t have time for all that, I feel like I’m missing out. I guess what I’m saying is…I might like playing this game too much.

Next: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp tips and tricks

But perhaps that’s all right, too. Animal Crossing has always been a slow-paced game, one you take at your own speed. And to be fair, the further you get in the game. the longer tasks take. I may have to wait hours or days before I can finish a crafting project to invite a new animal to my camp to level up to unlock a new animal to build friendship with…and so forth. Max completion will take plenty of time, and Nintendo has already promised more items in the future and even more villagers to woo. It’s too early to say, but my guess right now is that Pocket Camp will captivate its audience far longer than Miitomo or Super Mario Run ever could, simply by virtue of its darling cast of critters.

<em>Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp</em> is sweet, simple, pure and mercifully doesn’t ask for a lot of money, even as it eats away your free time. No, it’s not a full-blown Animal Crossing game, but who could expect it to be? If you need something charming, addictive and inexpensive to distract you, Pocket Camp is the perfect handheld vacation.. Nintendo. . Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. 8

All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.