Ricky Taing, Editor-In-Chief, DGS Chapter
The adorable mobile spin-off game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was initially met with critical acclaim when first released nearly thirty months ago – last week saw the launch of the next main instalment of the simulation game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Does the old-time classic still stack up to play on your mobile device or should you look elsewhere?
Having played the Animal Crossing series all my life, including their main series games Wild World and City Folk, the spin-off game is a nice addition to the ever-expanding set of titles.
Filled with charm, the simulation game allows players to manage a small campsite with various animal campers to befriend. to freely explore with fruit to harvest, fish to catch and friends to socialise with. Any time of day, you can shop in a little marketplace, or choose to relax in the comfort of your own campsite. Having been nominated for “Best Mobile Game” in IGN‘s Best of 2017 Awards, the game has been praised by reviewers and fans alike for the open world approach.
As many other devout Animal Crossing players can testify, when the game was first announced, we were all enticed by the idea of having a bite-sized form of Animal Crossing to play out to our heart’s desire. Much-loved characters such as Tom Nook and Blathers were set to appear in this game, with your favourite animal villagers coming back!
The game seemed fantastic at first – the amazing graphics were beyond imagining, and having the ability to do the things that fans all enjoyed from the previous main series – fishing, bug-catching, decorating. The game, as like other ‘freemium’ games, had introduced Leaf Tickets – a new premium currency.
What was one of the highlights for me was being able to own your own RV, having the ability to customise and decorate to your desire.
Upon further inspection, the game was littered with micro-transactions. Speed-up delivery of an item – leaf tickets. Purchase a wig – leaf tickets. Buy a fortune cookie – leaf tickets. All, to be able to decorate your campsite the way you want.
And behind this system of ‘befriending’ villagers, you have to complete errands for them in order to reap a reward of Bells (the in-game currency) and construction materials to form your campsite.
The game worked on a system by which you would get a certain number of errands every three hours – once you had used this up, you were left with very little to do. Behind the facade of the game’s great visuals, the game required you to have a regimental routine and give constant attention in order to get the rare furniture items. I clearly remember logging on to the game to complete every task necessary, then coming back later three hours later.
Two years ago, I then gave up playing the game as I felt like I was pushing a large rock up an increasingly steep mountain for eternity, with little benefit to reap.
Yesterday, I rediscovered the game and it is fair to say that not much has changed – not much other than new ways to grab your attention with new exhilarating money-grabbing features such as the game’s Happy Helper Plan which gives you new features. New features, where in your flagship Animal Crossing games, would be free.
However, I have still been hooked into replaying the game – exploring the new features. Despite the game’s intention to allow a gamer to escape from the outside world, the game shares too many similarities with a greedy capitalist dystopia.
Only time will tell how long it will take until I get bored and pick up another game.
Do I recommend you to pick up this game? Yes, I do, the visuals are detailed and beautiful, the game soundtrack is perfect – you’ll enjoy playing this for some time. However, I would still recommend you to beware of the game’s money-grabbing tactics. Alternatively, check out the new sequel, New Horizons, the critically acclaimed game which has led to one of the Nintendo Switch’s most successful game launches of all time.
Images from © Nintendo via DGSChapter