Image copyright Nintendo 2017
Throughout the past 16 weeks, we’ve done semi-professional reviews for a number of games. From an indie gem here and there, to some Triple A titles, all of them, regardless of whether they were hits or flops in our eyes, have been console-based outings. And whilst the vast majority of our reviews will be console-based, there is a sizeable market that we’re overlooking; the mobile gaming market. Whilst you may sit there rolling your eyes at the thought of a mobile game being taken seriously, I should mention two words that may pique your interest; Animal Crossing.
One of the best-loved of Nintendo‘s ever-expanding list of IPs, Animal Crossing started life out on the Nintendo 64 console, and has seen games released for the Gamecube, Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS, selling over 30 million units worldwide.
The game is a community simulation video game wherein players (in the form of a customisable human being) living in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, carrying out various activities for the villagers including fishing, bug-catching, fossil-hunting ane the likes.
The game utilises the extensive use of the game system’s internal clock and calendar to simulate the passage of time in-game.
It’s been a very successful formula for the franchise since 2001, and now, in Nintendo‘s fourth official mobile game, the franchise is now on playable on the move.
As an Animal Crossing newbie, my experience with the franchise is limited to appearances in Super Smash Bros. and general Nintendo lore, which possibly makes it easier for me to review the game.
As far as mobile games go, it’s a good way to kill some time with no need to purchase any microtransactions to speed things along with in-game premium currency, Leaf Tokens.
The general context of the game revolves around you working on your own campsite, building it from the ground up, and making friends with the innumerous animals that inhabit the game’s world.
You create various items of furniture and miscellaneous knick-knacks to help make your campsite look prettier, and to help bring the animals into your campsite and populate your world.
You level up by gaining hearts, which can only be collected by levelling up your friendship with the various inhabitants around the world, and the only way to level up your friendships is by completing tasks – namely, collecting enough items that a character asks for – or asking them to tell you a story.
So there’s a lot of running around to other locations to collect enough bugs or fruit to satisfy your friend’s desires.
You can go fishing, catch insects with your net, or shake a tree to collect the items needed, and wait until they reappear – which can take several hours.
This being a mobile game, there’s a lot of real-time waiting to be done. For instance, once you shake a tree to collect some coconuts, you need to wait 3 hours until the tree grows new ones.
The time scale also applies to the crafting system. For the most part, furniture items take between 1 and 3 minutes to complete and get delivered to you – in something I like to call Llamazon. However, the more high-end items can take anything from 3 hours up to 8 hours!
Of course, you’re not limited to waiting around in the game for the time to pass, as, this being a mobile game, you are free to turn it off at any moment and go about your day. Do it before you go to bed, for example, and you’ll have a new couch ready by the time you wake up.
There’s plenty of customisation to this game, as you’d expect from an Animal Crossing title.
Aside from your own character’s appearance, you can change the layout of your campsite, and even customise your personal campervan.
Whilst the campervan doesn’t do much in reality in-game (it is used to move from location to location, but you don’t need to physically get into it to get around), that doesn’t mean it’s obsolete.
Aside from the customisation options, you can upgrade the ‘van to hold more of your crafted items, and generally show them off to any of your real-world friends you make through the game.
Given the nature of Pocket Camper, there is no “end-game” to it, just more crafting and customising and friend-making and camp-improving.
Oh, and I should add that whilst you can improve your campervan, you must take out a loan in-game to do so, with the 1st one being merely 10,000 Bells (or in-game currency). The next steps it up to 30,000 Bells, and so on and so forth. So, you better not waste all of your money on new shirts and such, otherwise Tom Nook’s mobile friends will come knocking on your campervan door before long!
Nerd Rating – 6/10 – whilst I’m not an Animal Crossing veteran, I know that a mobile spin-off won’t really hold the same magic as the console editions. But when it comes to recognisable IPs, Nintendo have the market locked down tight, so any and all entries into their franchise’s ever increasing catalogues will at least be met with a high seal of approval. For veterans of Animal Crossing, you may be left underwhelmed by this mobile port and be left wanting more. For newbies, it’s a good introduction to the series, and one that we can take with us anywhere. And, it’s such an easy game to pick up that my typically non-gamer girlfriend has taken to it and even overtaken me in terms of level.
If you like this, try – Animal Crossing, Seabeard (mobile game), Sims Freeplay (mobile game), Happy Street (mobile game).