By Jarod Todeschi
As I sat down and downloaded the new “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” game to my cell phone, I was not sure what to expect. Nintendo recently released this as its third mobile app game. Like its predecessors, “Super Mario Run” and “Fire Emblem Heroes,” “Pocket Camp” is based on one of the company’s successful console games from the early 2000’s.
Animal Crossing was originally celebrated as an imaginative, open-ended game upon its initial release. It featured a real time 24- hour clock aligning the gamer’s real and imaginary worlds. In 2002, it was noted by some critics to be aimed predominantly towards youth demographics.
The new version begins with a hefty data download onto the user’s device. After customizing a character, they are dropped onto a campsite with a creature named Isabelle. The game is based on various interactive options that navigate you through your personalized experience by completing tasks and building relationships. The goal is to meet creatures and trade goods or services in working towards building the best campsite possible.
Completed missions are rewarded with materials and advancements unlocking access to more expansive game play opportunities. Having no emotional ties or nostalgic connection with the game, I found it fun working through tasks and seeing where the plot would take me. As the original game was released during formative childhood years for many similar aged people, the mobile release struck a chord with those who experienced it in their childhood.
Willamette MBA student Antoine Longour noticed that the new edition contained many original features saying, “they kept some options I really liked from my younger days.”
Longour recalled the profit building tasks as a key factor in making it so special.
“Catching fish to sell them later, shaking the trees for fruits to sell them, completing missions and requests to earn money and increase the size of your house and decorate it with fancier stuff,” he said.
Further, the game has been criticized by critics and users alike. In a review for Gizimbo, Harrison Webber wrote, “it felt like Nintendo’s only plan was to frustrate users with various time limits until they paid up with real dollars,” lamenting over the apps frequent requests and reminders of the tempting advancements offered by in app purchases.
While the game kept me entertained and intrigued long enough to be fairfly labelled as fun, it dues not present any stand out features or unmissable moments. Without the loyalty of my childhood experience, there is nothing about this game that keeps me going back for more.
Previous experience with the game may not be enough to keep users engaged, either. “I uninstalled the new one,” Longour admitted.
For Nintendo, Pocket Camp profitably pales in comparison to the those of Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes. According to Forbes, the game is most successful in Japan, fittingly the franchise’s formative 2001 release market. Japan was responsible for nearly 85 percent of the new app’s revenue, a shy total of $10,000,000 in nine days.
While the game is enough to satisfy a study break or periodic procrastination, the overall consensus by cult fans and new users alike is that Pocket Camp lacks the irresistible charm crucial for longevity among shifting fads. That missing charm was perhaps what made Animal Crossing a fan favorite in the first place, but ultimately, as Longour concludes of the new version, “it’s not as fun.”