I haven't played the original Animal Crossing game, nor have I played any of its spinoff titles. Somehow, the game appeared during a time when I was ignoring consoles altogether. I cannot deny that the social nature of the Animal Crossing did pique my interest, but not enough to warrant purchasing a Gamecube. However, I do own an Android device, in fact, I own four, so trying Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was too great of a temptation for me to pass it up.
Having "played" several other freemium "games" before I had a decent amount of experience going in. The fact that Animal Crossing comes up front and tells you that you will be spending real money to play the game was heartwarming. Though during the four or five hours that I spend exploring, I did not need to spend a dime since the "greenleaves" were coming in steadily, thanks to the immense volume of tasks that you get to complete every minute or so.
But game life in Animal Crossing would be quite dull if it weren't for these tasks. The game idea is to manage a resort and activity spot inside a natural park of sorts. Don't let your mind go wild on marketing strategies and adventure park designs; Animal Crossing is not about that. What you do here is try and attract the different anthropomorphic chibi animals to come and visit your set up. You do this by completing several requests, which include adding specific furniture items and going on errands. I've come to the understanding that in the original, animals featured a great deal of personality, which influenced gameplay. Well, here all that translates into different items a critter might want for you to fetch. It feels very impersonal and even insulting to the player. But then again, this is freemium, and you can't go too far making an authentic gaming experience when you're developing a freemium, even if you're Nintendo. Freemium is merely a fun sinkhole.
In defense of Pocket Camp, players are unconstrained by the freemium part while exploring all the aspects of the game. However, I do suspect that things aren't that straightforward after ten or more hours of play. As you might expect, I'm not going to find out.
On the visual side, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp presents itself very well. The items, the decor, the characters, all bear the cutesy Nintendo design. The sound is okay. Characters mumble some repetitive nonsense to simulate talking. To be honest, having real speech in this game would blow its storage requirements out of proportions. Even so, it often needs to download packs larger than 80 megabytes. So the app's storage footprint is not as small as you might think.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has two merits. For one it can represent a nostalgic throwback to Gamecube veterans, albeit also being a sour experience. Secondly, the freemium limitations are not noticeable, at least until you get a good grasp of the game, which is high praise considering the circumstances.