Pocket Camp’ ready for smartphones

Nintendo announced its latest mobile game, “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp,” on Oct. 24.

“Pocket Camp” will be the newest installment in the popular Animal Crossing series, which has traditionally produced games that are open-ended life simulations – in other words, virtual second lives. Players of Animal Crossing games are given no stated objectives – the player typically lives in a village with anthropomorphic animal neighbors, and is simply encouraged to pass the time by fishing, catching bugs, customizing houses and socializing with  animals. The series has garnered critical acclaim for its cute, colorful graphics, its immersive gameplay and its overall simplicity. The last full-fledged release, “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” sold over 11 million copies, making it the second-highest selling title in the series.

In “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp,” players will not live in a village, but they will take on the role of a “campsite manager” – players will be in charge of building up a campsite and making it popular. Just like previous Animal Crossing games, players will be able to fish, catch bugs, commission furniture, purchase clothing, customize their character’s appearance and build facilities. The game follows a free-to-play model, with optional microtransactions for players inclined to pay for an easier or faster experience with the game.

The announcement of an Animal Crossing mobile title came as a surprise for fans who expected the next Animal Crossing title to be released on the Nintendo Switch. However, an Animal Crossing mobile game was first announced in April 2016, and “Pocket Camp’s” release has actually been delayed twice — once in late 2016, and again in March 2017.

Unlike other gaming companies, Nintendo has been slow to leap into mobile gaming: “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” is only the third mobile game developed in-house by Nintendo. By comparison, industry rival Square Enix Holdings has developed over 100 mobile titles to date.

“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” has large shoes to fill within the realm of Nintendo-developed mobile games. Its predecessors have been remarkably successful: the first of Nintendo’s mobile titles, “Super Mario Run,” has been downloaded over 200 million times to date, and its second mobile game, “Fire Emblem Heroes,” earned over $115 million in only six months after its release.

“Pocket Camp” is currently region-locked and only available for download in Australia, but anticipation for the game has been so enthusiastic that instructions for circumventing the game’s region lock have been published on several large gaming websites, such as Kotaku.

More patient gamers can elect to pre-register for the game on its official website.

An international iOS and Android release for the game is scheduled for late November.