Each day, mobile game storefronts are flooded with an immense number of new apps. That makes it tough to determine what games are worth trying out and what you can swipe past without regret. In Keep Or Delete, I play a randomly selected mobile game for one hour and determine whether you should keep it around or uninstall immediately. Given the short attention span many of us have in regards to mobile titles, if a game can’t wow you within 60 minutes, odds are it never will.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Platforms: iOS/Android
Price: Free-to-play

In a special exception, I gave this game several days of play before forming a verdict. I’ve also never played an Animal Crossing game prior to Pocket Camp. Thus, I had no expectations or standards going in.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp marks the charming series’ first foray into the realm of mobile. As a new camper, the basic goal is to erect the best campsite for potential animal pals to occupy. Because visitors aren’t really your friends, they won’t step foot in your camp unless you furnish it to their specific tastes. Bunnie the…bunny absolutely must have a lovely chair and cute rug for her to even consider looking at your site. 

Besides chuckling at this premise it also confused me. I chose “cool” as my preferred camp theme so I thought I only had to cater to like-minded creatures, of which there were hardly any. Turns out it really doesn’t matter. Making stuff gets the fickle creatures in the door but isn’t necessary to keep them. Pocket Camp doesn’t make that clear, though. My campsite was a tacky mix of multiple item types until I learned it’s okay to ditch previously required objects.

animal-crossing-pocket-camp-screenshot

The game plays like a series of checklist: gather food/materials, construct requested furniture, invite friends, repeat. Stretch and Timed goals are exactly what they sound like, though the latter repeats objectives too often. That’s probably because there isn’t all that much to do or collect. Beyond your camp, you can visit seven small disconnected areas. It won’t take long to exhaust interest in these spots since they’re tiny and only offer a few trees to shake and fish/bugs to catch.

Scratching off objectives satisfies me so I enjoyed fulfilling mundane tasks for a while. But once I nabbed enough friends (including K.K. Slider) and crafted most of the items I’d been eyeing, my interest plummeted. There really isn’t much to do except craft furniture to seduce strangers into your campsite. Once you have someone, you get to fetch them even more things to increase your level. As the level increases, store inventory expands and more animals pop up. But the routine became too shallow to keep me engaged in it.

Resources take a few hours to replenish. Since I prefered playing once or twice a day in short bursts, waiting hours for bars to refill didn’t bother me. The wait can be bypassed by spending Leaf Tickets, which are purchased with real money. Pocket Camp doles out these tickets fairly often so I never felt the need to open my wallet for more, thankfully.

Keep Or Delete?

This will vary on your taste but I’ll say delete. As a newcomer to the series, lack of expectations allowed Pocket Camp to engross me for a few days. The charm is infectious and watching my camp evolve into something respectable feels undeniably rewarding. But the magic quickly runs dry once you realize how little you’re actually doing. Pocket Camp just needs more. The time investment may not be worth the short shelf life. 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf players don’t have much reason to dive into this outside of curiosity. Newbies like myself, though, might find it a decent avenue to test the waters of the franchise. The best thing Pocket Camp did was help me realize I might enjoy a bigger, better version of it. In other words, it acts as a solid argument for giving New Leaf a try. 

For more Keep Or Delete, check out pieces on Lab Escape! and Not Not.

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