Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Me: 'If they ever make Animal Crossing available as a mobile app, I'm screwed.'
Nintendo, last week: 'HAY GUISE, HAVE SOME ANIMAL CROSSING ON THE MOBILE PHONE'
Me: '....oh no.'
A few months ago, I kinda got back into an old Gamecube game I used to play obsessively around 2001-2002: Animal Crossing. Why this game was so compelling I will never know, but it was. The game was ridiculously simple to play, lacking in any sort of real objective, and yet vast. You played as a human moving into a little village populated by anthropomorphic animals; the main shopkeeper would sell you a small house, and then....well, that's it. You could talk to your animal neighbors (and run errands for them), decorate and upgrade your house, collect art and clothing and various other themed items, plant trees and flowers, go fishing, and catch bugs to your heart's content.
The game even ran in real time, keeping track of the days and times by the Gamecube's clock. Turn on the game at 2 a.m. and you'll find that it's nighttime and your animal neighbors are likely sleeping. Turn on the game in mid-December, and your town is likely covered in snow. Turn on the game on Halloween, and the animals are all running around in costumes begging for candy.
I had it down to a science. I checked in regularly to pull the weeds from my town; get the latest music from K.K. Slider, the adorable dog who played guitar every Saturday night; buy turnips from Sow Joan each Sunday to play the stalk market (yes, the punning, it burns). So, recently I dug up the game and dusted off the ancient Gamecube, because I figured my boyfriend's adorable 9-year-old daughter would really get into it. And she has...but personally, I have found that it's just not as compelling as it once was. I still love it, and of course I created a character in her new town. But I frequently forget about it for weeks at a time now; it's not as easy to remember and make time for going downstairs and playing on the Gamecube now that I am no longer a young stay-at-home mom.
Last week, however, Nintendo released its first mobile edition of the game: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Now, I can check in on my little characters during all those 'little moments' during the day. Waiting in line! On a break at work! Getting ready for bed! And I've been doing just that, every chance I get.
So how does the app stack up? Pretty nicely, actually! There have been some technical glitches and lag issues as Nintendo's servers were unprepared for the game's launch popularity, but it's running pretty smoothly now. The gameplay is pretty different from that of the original game (which would not have been well-suited for a mobile app anyway), but most of the main gameplay mechanics are still there. Befriend animals and do them favors. Collect items and decorate your campsite. Catch fish and bugs and gather fruit from trees. Level up and build a bigger and better campsite. Rinse and repeat.
I guess some things never change. I've gone from being a young mom to a middle-aged empty-nester, and here I am, still obsessively running errands for blue squirrels and pink hamsters. ...and comparing progress with my 9-year-old cohort.