Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is Nintendo’s latest attempt to break the attractive smartphone market (although rumours persist that more will follow, with Zelda next in line). With its gameplay style designed around catching, crafting, and decorating, the game is clearly suitable for micro-transitions.

It is now available in most of the key markets, including the UK and US, and is downloadable for free on both iOS and Android, although it includes numerous in-app purchases, also known as micro-transactions.

Filling the campsite

The game is simple at its core. You’re in charge of a campsite that needs filling with activities, furniture, and tents. You’ll also need to bring in guests, which sees you making your way around various areas to make friends with an array of visiting animals. In fact, one could argue that Animal Crossing is the father of farm sims like Farmville, as the first instalment in the franchise was released in 2001.

In Pocket Camp, you make friends not unlike you would in real life, but with an emphasis on handing out freebies. Should Apollo the eagle ask for appliances, for example, then you know what to do. You wander into the world to catch bugs and fish, collect seashells, and pick fruit. All of this is achieved simply by tapping on the screen to fulfil your friends’ requests.

You’ll be rewarded with bells (the game’s currency) in return for your efforts, as well as a number of craft materials to help you build furniture. The furniture is largely cosmetic, as decorating your site is a big part of the fun. It has another purpose, however, in that your new friends are unlikely to be enamoured by your site if their chosen decorations aren’t on display.

Real money speeds things up

For your decorations, you’ll need more craft materials and more bells, which will require you to make new friends, run more errands, and catch more bugs. That essentially is the game.

Nintendo, of course, has to earn money somehow. So each time you craft future, you are forced to wait between a few minutes and a couple of days before you receive the item. The only way to speed up the process is by spending leaf tickets, which although can be earned slowly just by playing the game, can be acquired far quicker by spending real money.

A risk for Nintendo

NINTENDO LOGO by Trisreed at English Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

The jury is out on how much this will bug fans and whether Nintendo will succeed in its bid to capture its share of the smartphone audience. Game fans already have a seemingly endless choice of smartphone games available, such as Planescape: Torment and Monument Valley 2.

They’re also competing with online games, including those available at online casinos, many of which are playable on smartphones and instead of requiring purchases can award some money to lucky players. Directories such as lists casinos, which feature some of the top free casino games around, and all with a 100% free option before even making a deposit. While you can play Animal Crossing for free, some may argue that it’s difficult to get anywhere without paying for bells.

A bit thin, but with redeeming charm

Animal Crossing games have always relied on item collection, but with collecting now reduced to a single screen tap, it feels a bit thinner here than ever. The absence of such longtime features as the Museum, as well as a number of the mini-games, gives the feeling that Animal Crossing has been overly-stripped of features.

Having said that, it’s hard not to like Pocket Camp. The Animal Crossing charm is here in all its glory, and you’d have to be Ebeneezer Scrooge not to be won over by a game that simply asks you to make new animal friends while trying your best to serve their every need.

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