I have a confession to make: As much as it pains me to admit it, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a disappointing take on the Animal Crossing formula. While visually charming and undeniably cute, Pocket Camp’s core premise is not about cultivating friendships and working to earn a living. Instead, the game stretches out the fetch quest aspect of Animal Crossing until it nearly snaps.
It took me a while to feel comfortable with this truth — in fact, I failed to find the words to speak it until someone else spoke it for me.
That “someone else” is model, actress and social media personality Chrissy Teigen, who is known for her love of Instagram and no-holds-barred sense of humor. She’s also upfront about her love for Nintendo, a love that reminds me much of my own. In a series of tweets this weekend, Teigen offered the best explanation of Pocket Camp’s problem.
“These pocket Animal Crossing animal people things,” she wrote. “They aren't our friends. They're jerks. Who makes certain couch demands before visiting someone's house? Then shows a video montage of them sleeping on it. I hate these people.”
Pocket Camp operates on the principle of “give and you shall receive”: Potential campers will hang out in areas on the game’s map for a certain length at time, during which players can try to woo them to come hang at their campsite. To do this, they need to offer a requested item in exchange for the animal’s affection; this can continue on as long as the player wants. But to really win their RSVP, players have to build and furnish their campsite with certain amenities — amenities that can take a lot of time, money and materials to make.
Having to work for their attention makes these animals feel more like freeloading interlopers than actual friends, as Teigen points out. That feeling is compounded by the cooldown timers attached to things like crafting furniture and growing fruit. I’m a little more forgiving of these; there’s something calming about the patience required by Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and it’s reminiscent of the franchise’s M.O.
But patience (and cuteness!) is about all that Pocket Camp’s interpretation of Animal Crossing nails. There’s a profound sense of achievement lost alongside the colder, sparser social scene. I like how Teigen articulated it best.
“Pocket animal crossing might be okay for you AC newbies but for us tom nook loyalists it is merely a hit of the crack that is actual, real, animal crossing,” she wrote. “It lacks the heart. The soul. It's a sandwich with no meat. A car without tires.”
I find it rare that a Twitter take can beget such introspection, but Teigen is a rare celeb Tweeter. The popularity of these tweets is surely owed to the amusing sight of a beautiful Instagram star airing her grievances about a free-to-play Nintendo game online. Even so, I appreciate Teigen’s ability to distill some serious wisdom about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in just a few hundred characters.