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Commune with nature in ‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’ for mobile

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
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If you’re looking for a new game to dive into this holiday weekend, all you’ll need is your smartphone and maybe some patience. You’ll get to manage your own campsite, interact with cute little animals, and even travel a bit. This week we’re bringing you a beloved Nintendo franchise that’s finally available for mobile devices.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp — now available for iOS and Android — reunites you with nature. Where in main series entries you serve as the mayor of town, you’re now modestly appointed as campsite manager. To help decorate your campsite, you’re completing tasks for animals along the way who reward you with currency and crafting materials.

Since the game was released a day earlier than expected, there have been a few connection errors while playing. If that happens, I recommend force quitting out of the app and starting back up again; I was able to pick right back up again from where I left off.

Technical hiccups aside, it’s been a fun and entertaining experience so far. While I’m not the most avid gamer, I am familiar with Animal Crossing from my Nintendo GameCube days. Downloading the game for my iPhone was thus a nostalgic trip, considering that previous versions aren’t available on mobile. You can also log into your Nintendo Account to save data and earn points (redeemable for discounts and in-game items in other Nintendo titles).

In the beginning, I got to design my avatar by picking her hair color, hair style, and eye shape. I was then presented with a hipster-style outfit — knit sweater and striped socks included. Later on you can customize your camper with different colors and patterns. You’ll also get to choose between a total of four themes for your campsite — sporty, cool, natural, and cute.

When the game starts to pick up, you’re able to travel to other destinations like Sunburst Island and Saltwater Shores to meet other animals. Each one will provide you with a task that’s themed to your surroundings whether it’s fishing or catching butterflies. Completing these missions not only win you tons of supplies, but you can also start to make your campsite look less empty by inviting the animal mission-givers to come hang out. It’s important to remember that while Animal Crossing looks like fun, it means serious business. Each animal is pretty needy with their requests — providing you with an entire list of tasks before they’re willing to actually become your friend. But therein lies the game: the more requests you complete, the more supplies you earn.

With the supplies, you’re able to craft  furniture. For example, you’ll need wood to put together a picket fence and for a modern dresser you’ll need some steel. Note however that you can only make one item at at a time. You can purchase more space with Leaf Tickets, one of two in-game currencies, which you can either earn in-game or, if you’re impatient, purchase with real money. Fortunately I found that the game was generous with both supplies and Leaf Tickets, providing us with more than we needed in just a few hours of play. The game also includes Bells, the series’ traditional main currency, which are used to buy furniture and can only be earned in game (though much more rapidly than Leaf Tickets). I do recommend being strategic about the order in which you complete tasks, however, to avoid wasting too much time in transit between the various locations. There’s also the Market Place where you can shop for items instead, or set up your own “Market Box” where other players can purchase items you offer.

In order to fulfill the animals’ requests, you must purchase furniture for them to use when they’re at your camp site. It also serves to fill out your campsite, making it look cozier. The sky is the limit with customization, from the necessities like a couch and bed to an electric guitar or an even bigger tent. Unfortunately, this does mean you might have to sacrifice the furniture you actually want in order to save up leaf tickets and supplies for furniture that the animals request.

A new location for those who are already fans of Animal Crossing is Shovelstrike Quarry — where you can collect ore by mining rocks. There’s gold ore, silver ore, sapphires, and rubies, that can then be sold for Bells. To access the area, you’ll either need to use 20 of your Leaf Tickets or put together a group of five friends you’ve made to mine for minerals.

Since the game is fairly new, I managed to make a few friends already while playing. You can even visit their camp site — which made me a little jealous because some of them already had a ton of cool furniture laid out. But it’s definitely great for inspirational purposes when you’re trying to step up your camp site design game.

The interface is extremely easy to use, and it also keeps you super organized in a game where it can seem like there’s a lot to track. On the right-hand corner, there’s a menu with your Timed Goals and Stretch Goals that tell you whether or not they are complete. This is also where you can access all the different social features such as friend requests, notices, your mailbox, and more.

Timed Goals are much shorter and don’t require too much effort, and you also have a large amount of time to complete them. You’ll also be awarded with a variety of supplies to craft furniture. By completing stretch goals, you’ll receive perhaps the best prize of all — Leaf Tickets to use towards all types of different supplies, especially if you’re in a crunch. All your rewards from completing these tasks are stored in your mailbox which you can collect one by one or in batches.

Loyal Animal Crossing fans will be pleased to find that Pocket Camp captures the essential character and gameplay of the series, just in a different setting. With bright and cheery graphics and a satisfying core loop-, it’s still fun and easy to get hooked on. While I’ve only gotten through the first few levels, it’s definitely not a game I’ll tire of quickly.

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