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I Don’t Know How To Play Video Games, But Here’s What I Thought Of ‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’

Sunday 26th November 2017 by Mikaela Maxwell

Read my previous thoughts on Super Mario Odyssey here!

Animal Crossing: New Leaf was actually one of the first video games that Derek introduced me to. My siblings had Nintendo Game Boys and such as kids, but it was never something I really got into (though I’m not quite sure why). A few years back, when Derek suggested that I try playing Animal Crossing on his 3DS. I’m sure that I rolled my eyes at the ridiculousness of the idea, thinking “I am an adult,” “I’m awful at video games,” “It’s not really my thing,” etc., etc. In any case, my rubber arm was twisted and I was set up to play.

The first time that I played Derek sat next to me answering my questions about how to do things and why things mattered and what not. After about an hour he needed to go into the next room to record the Geekscape Games Podcast, and I continued on my own. I continued and continued (and continued). I played all through the podcast recording, and I even needed to interrupt him at one point to ask what this flashing red light on the 3DS meant? Turns out it meant I had played for so long that I had killed the battery. I played for at least 4 hours that night, and for many days thereafter. I can’t remember exactly how long I stayed on that particular game, but suffice to say that I really enjoyed it, and it was definitely a great way for me to start getting into video games. It also freaked me right out as suddenly I was devoting all of these hours to playing a game! How could I possibly be that guy?!

So yesterday when I was informed that there was an Animal Crossing game that I could play on my phone, that shit was downloaded immediately. And again, was played until there was no battery left to play. Obviously, it’s only been out for a minute so I haven’t gotten a chance to put too too many hours into the game, but I have definitely put in a few.

Right off the bat I loved the art style. The opening screen is the Nintendo logo with these two-toned trees and simple campers, and I fell in love immediately! I ain’t even mad when it takes foreeeever to load, cause I get to just sit there looking at this beautiful little screen thinking about how I could turn it into wall art on a hypothetical child’s bedroom wall someday…

The game is definitely true to form with the same classic characters and design of furniture and decorations and such. But there is also an element of modern simple art that seems just a bit hipper than what I remember from the original (3DS version).

One of the things that had me buy into the original game was that I got to modify and design things for myself. There were clothing options and home building options and you could plant trees where you wanted trees to be; you even got to design your character on a basic level, which is my favourite part of pretty much any game. (I once spent over an hour designing my Elder Scrolls Online character, only to be interrupted by a phone call and have it time out and reset… oh angry days.)

Although this game is somewhat different in the goals and basic tasks that you do, you still get to design and dress your character, and deck out your campsite with new furniture on a regular basis! Yay! One element that I really liked was getting to take my camper in and having it painted to my liking. I’m realizing now that I’m pretty sure my camper has the same colour scheme going on as the tiny trees on the loading screen, I’m such a level 7 (#SixSeasonsAndAMovie).

When I played the original for the first time I got a peach near the beginning, and either ate or sold it; for those of you out there who have played Animal Crossing before, you know what a silly mistake that was. You later discover that how you generate income is by planting trees and selling the fruit, and the way you grow a tree is by planting a fruit, thus when you are given fruit in the beginning although it seems sweet to make a buck off of it, the wise thing to do is plant it, because soon you will have 3 more of that fruit to either sell or plant! Needless to say as soon as a I learned how to shake fruit from the trees in Pocket Camp, I started hoarding it immediately. I’ve also been hoarding pretty much everything else until I figure out what my priorities need to be. Though I haven’t seen a way to plant trees thus far, sooo if you’ve got that figured out, let me know! (though I’m thinking maybe it’s not a thing in this mobile version).

I’ve also been enjoying fishing. It reminds me of my near and dear Stardew Valley, except much, much easier. Actually, most things in this game are pretty easy, even easier than I remember the original being, which is great as it means that I can be more focused on my goals than on trying to figure out how to master a specific task. I imagine that could get a little boring, but I’m not super far into the game yet so hopefully some things will become more challenging as you move forward. So far the most challenging part has been waiting to for things to regenerate, while not wanting to waste resources, or spend real money to speed them up.

This game is free to download with in game purchases. It seems like lots of people are into that, which I can definitely appreciate for games like Crossy Road (on which I spent way too much money buying characters… ?!). This feels more like a real game, however, not just a ‘phone game’, and I personally would way rather pay a set amount and just be able to play by earning things in the game. That being said I haven’t yet bought anything. I’m sure I will at some point, likely once I have a better idea of what the point of everything is, but so far I have been resistant to spending any real money on it (though those launch specials are looking pretty pretty pretty appealing).

Ok, so fast-forward a few days, I am still enjoying the game, but definitely have now found a few things bothersome. My biggest gripe is that everything takes so long! Not to say that the game is slowed down, but each task you do is for some reason accompanied by so many different animations and different screens that for a single task you are having to click through 4 or 5 pages. For example, this game requires you to craft a lot of furniture, because for some reason each character will only visit your campsite if you have specific furniture (Rude!). Well, every time you craft a piece of furniture you have to watch an animation of you fake opening a box and click through 4 other screens just so you can get back to the original screen you were on and order the next damned piece of furniture! Literally every single task takes time where you just sit and stare at your phone and wish that you weren’t stuck waiting to get through some pointless animation or dialogue so you can just keep moving forward with the friggin game!

Oh man, I guess I didn’t realize it, but that has been really bugging me. I even noticed today at work on my breaks I actually just ended up not bothering to play the game because I felt like the bored-waiting-to-get-to-the-next-screen to actually-enjoying-this-adventure-and-feeling-accomplished-by-completing-a-goal ratios were waaaay off. I’ve also noticed some bugginess, which I’m sure we all have, but every time I see that server error screen I have flashbacks to Pokémon Go, and I don’t wanna go there again!

Overall this game seems like a good game to pick up when you’ve got a little bit of time and don’t want to get too invested in something. I’ll probably still play it when I am waiting for the bus, or half watching TV in my living room, but it definitely doesn’t have me hooked the same way that New Leaf did, at least not yet.