In a direct stream early Wednesday morning, Nintendo finally revealed their mobile version of the popular Animal Crossing series. Titled Pocket Camp, it will be launching on iOS and Android in “late November”.
Interestingly, Pocket Camp seems to loosely follow the New Leaf formula, making the player the manager of a campsite—mayoral assistant Isabelle even makes a return. As Manager, you can place furniture, build new facilities and upgrade the camp. Player characters are fully customisable, including skin, eye and hair colour. Nintendo clearly listened to fan criticism on that one.
A lot of classic mechanics also make a comeback, including realistic passage of time, shaking trees for fruit and running errands.
Townsfolk also now have friendship levels; by chatting, performing tasks and placing furniture a character likes, players can befriend them and ensure future visits to their campsite.
In a series first, Pocket Camp features proper crafting. Using materials like cotton, players can make furniture by placing “craft orders”. If something isn’t available to craft, there are shops to visit. Able Sisters To Go, Kicks and Nookling Global are Pocket Camp’s iterations of the iconic stores, offering a rotating stock of clothes and furniture items.
On Sunburst Island, players can go hunting for materials and rare insects. Townsfolk will also appear here with more requests. From the few screens shown off in the 15-minute stream, Pocket Camp seems to feature all the classic Animal Crossing furniture sets and unique items, as well as fan-favourite characters like Tom Nook.
Fishing and bug-catching mechanics remain largely the same, though the net seems to be more timing-based now, with a visual cue indicating when to swing. However, fishing has been updated to include a “throw net” capable of catching a whole sack of fish in one go.
It wouldn’t be an Animal Crossing game without friends to visit. By sharing your player ID with people, you can sell items to one another, visit campsites and give them kudos, which seems to be a rating system. By adding a player as a friend, you can visit their camp at any time.
Finally, all players have their own camper van with customisable colour schemes and furniture setups. There also extensions available, for a cost. In typical Animal Crossing fashion, Pocket Camper features the same “loan” mechanic that was used to expand your house; pay off the loan, get a bigger van.
Pocket Camp’s monetisation comes in the form of Leaf Tickets, which can be used to make fish and bug hunting faster, as a substitute for crafting items or to speed up build times. Leaf tickets can be earned in-game by completing goals or purchased with real money. Since Animal Crossing is already a series meant to be played in small bursts, it’ll be interesting to see how the monetisation affects the waiting.
Overall, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp looks like a far more comprehensive adaption of Animal Crossing than I anticipated. This isn’t just a quick cash-in, it’s practically the full experience distilled for mobile platforms. It doesn’t quite satisfy my desire for a full Switch title, but it appears to be a perfectly fine game in its own right.