Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is an okay version of Animal Crossing for mobile devices. It's not great, but it's not catastrophically bad either. I fell off it pretty quickly because what was there didn't catch me enough to keep me away from my 3DS and Vita, it's a campground simulation game where you collect fruits, bugs and fishes to give to animals in order to level up their friendship and get more stuff to decorate your camp with. The interactions are minimal and even if the whole package is well presented and isn't THAT different from mainline Animal Crossing games, the differences were enough to leave me uninterested.

The intro of the game felt promising with character customization that allowed me to make a cool character. Then you get thrown into the world of Pocket Camp with the usual mobile game tutorials. You learn that in order to make friends with the other inhabitants of the world, you need to complete requests, which involve fishing, catching bugs and collecting fruit. In a change from other AC titles, you have timers for fruits and premium nets to collect fish - and you have the odds to get certain type of fishes, you also have no chance to fail catching bugs and fish, it's all a timing thing. I'm fine with most of this stuff because fruits always had timers in AC - they just were hidden and having more chance to catching fishes and bugs is a good thing.

The problem comes with the reason why you're befriending these animals. There's not enough flavor for it to be worth it for the dialogue, so you're doing it to get experience and friendship levels. These things give you various resources that you can use to order new furniture to place in your camp. This furniture further improves your relationship with certain animals, which then shows the loop of the game quite clearly. There are also daily log-in bonuses, timed goals and stretch goals, all moving you towards doing certain things - sometimes with a time constraint - in order to get more resources.

It's a very cute game, but there's not much in lieu of game here, like the ill-fated Miitomo that was released a while back. You can customize your campsite and your camper - changing colors and styles a bit, even - and you can visit your friend's and send Kudos and help them at the quarry in order to get ore, you also can sell your stuff on a public marketplace. These are all okay ideas, but my issue is that they're all in service of being able to buy more furniture for the sake of doing it. You have to wait really long times to get certain pieces and the reward is often an underwhelming sensation that what you worked for will just allow you to do it all over again.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is a neat thing that looks and sounds like Animal Crossing, but the soul isn't there. Characters are way less interesting and you spend more time navigating menus than having a calming, relaxing time in your camp. There are a few ideas in here that Nintendo could use in a future AC title - like fruit stacking for instance - but that's pretty much it.

AuthorJérémie Tessier