Review: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

The year is 2005. You’re sitting cross-legged on your mother’s freshly vacuumed carpet and the smell of Totino’s pizza rolls wafts through the air, straight into your adolescent nostrils. You’re unaffected despite the increasingly loud growls emanating from your young stomach. Your attention is completely undivided and being paid to the television screen ahead of you. You’re in 40,000 bells deep with Tom Nook. This is no time for Totino’s pizza rolls.

If you, like me, spent the majority of your formative years a slave to the capitalism that is Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, you’ve downloaded its newest installment: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. The game you once wasted many summer days inside for, has now become exponentially more accessible in the form of a game purchased on your phone. Once again, if you, like me, are in the midst of finishing all of the assignments you should have been actively working on throughout the semester, this could not have come at a worse time for your productivity.

The game is pure addiction. Reminiscent of the game we came to know and love, Pocket Camp introduces the world of talking animals in a new light. Rather than the 4-by-4 gingerbread-esque cottages one would start out with, players are immediately granted a campsite and camper of their own which will be left at their discretion to upgrade and customize if they so please. The most dramatic difference between Gamecube to smartphone though, lies primarily in whom the town’s debt is collected. The head honcho himself, raccoon Tom Nook, is nowhere to be found. Personally, I’m ready to file a missing person’s. In his place are his twin sons, Timmy and Tommy, who subsequently switch out shifts to be mere marketsellers, living out their days to sell subpar furniture that receives no more than a second glance.

On these campgrounds, players are subject to the charity of the trio at OK Motors, the company responsible for customizing a player’s vehicle. Much like prior installments of the game, continuously upgrading your digs signifies a milestone, but the success does not come without a hefty price. The OK Motors team consists of three dim-witted birds- Beppe, Carlo and Giovanni. While their banter is kitschy, they do not hold a candle to the once scheming and otherwise sleazy Nook. Despite being so young during the first of my Animal Crossing escapades, Nook’s willingness to push me further into the hole never sat right with me. Ironically, the risk taker in my 8-year-old self found herself time and time again, shaking every and any tree she could find, in order to pay back a man (animal) with beady eyes and an apron. 

With minor let-downs, such as the inability to pick flowers, something that left me completely disheartened, the game has given millennials everywhere an opportunity to look back on a piece of their childhoods that hid under the guise of innocence. It was only with age that we began to realize that real friends won’t make us purchase or craft lofty furniture before they mosey their way on over to our campsite.

I advise those who have not taken the time to download Pocket Camp to remember that with mobile adaptations, the sky is not the limit- it’s more like three hundred feet higher than your head. The game has some flaws. You cannot travel the way you would with previous versions. To go place to place, players must be modern day Lewis and Clark’s, using a map to figure out their next move. Only by the map can you transport from kitschy haunt to kitschy haunt. If you are lacking in storage on your phone, this also might be a problem. Go ahead and delete whatever crappy album you just downloaded, this is much more worthy of your time.

My advice to new players: manage your bells, you don’t need the expensive star dress and make as many friends with obscure characters as possible. My regards to those who already know the universe too well: may you find the strength to climb out of the hole you inevitably will put yourself in.