Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is everything New Horizons should be

Animal Crossing Crying
Animal Crossing Crying (Image credit: iMore)

I hate to say it, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a furniture problem. What problem? Well, there just... isn't enough of it. If you asked Animal Crossing fans, "What do you hope to see from Nintendo at E3 2021?", many would sadly reply, "More furniture and events."

In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, there were 45 different "series" of furniture (including the Mario themed set), with many more smaller "sets" of furniture that don't necessarily have all the components of a bedroom, but look good together. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I've counted at least 26 "series," although I was being generous and including some that would have been considered "sets" in older games, such as the Diner series. For a game that prides itself on regular content updates, that's a problem. Meanwhile, Nintendo's mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, has clothes and furniture sets on top of established ones, with new content releasing regularly. So, how did we get here?

Y'all got any leaves?

Animal Crossing New Leaf Welcome Amiibo Cards (Image credit: Nadine Dornieden / iMore)

After the release of the Welcome amiibo update for Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS, fans realised that they really needed more furniture sets than what was actually available. Sure, there were new sets such as the mermaid, minimalist and alpine sets — Happy Home Designer offered more design options as well — but New Leaf had already been out for just under four years by the time the 1.5 update released, and players were craving new ways to decorate in a mainline game.

Arriving at (Pocket) Camp

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp released worldwide on November 21, 2017 on iOS and Android. Animal Crossing fans, myself included, found the simplified version of the Animal Crossing formula to be incredibly endearing, quickly falling into the gameplay loop. The game is made up of various enclaves where random villagers appear. These villagers ask for fish, bugs, fruit, shells and flowers that can be collected in each enclave. In return, players receive materials such as wood, steel, and paper that can be used to craft furniture and clothing from the Animal Crossing series.

After crafting a certain number of furniture items for a certain villager, the player can invite that villager to hang out at their campsite. Where the microtransaction aspect comes into the game is through Leaf Tickets, which can be used to speed up the crafting process — which takes time to complete — or can be used in place of materials if the player falls short. Players also got Leaf Tickets on a regular basis for completing tasks, participating in events and logging in every day. Players often earned just enough Leaf Tickets to use them for Leaf Ticket-only items and event furniture, leading to overall positive reception of the game.

The simplified version of the Animal Crossing formula was incredibly endearing.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. With the dawn of Fortune Cookies, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp became more and more pay-to-win. The Fortune Cookies cost 50 Leaf Tickets a piece — which would have been fine if players continued to receive five to ten Leaf Tickets as rewards — but Nintendo cut back on Leaf Ticket rewards, reducing them to three or even one Leaf Ticket at a time. Many players became frustrated, even moreso upon the release of subscription services that helped players with collecting the intense number of items needed to complete events and earn a handful of Leaf Tickets.

Hope on the Horizon

The year is 2019, and the Nintendo Direct is coming to a close. The screen fades to black, and the iconic "Animalese" voice plays through the speakers. After being delayed for the Nintendo Switch, the first official Animal Crossing: New Horizons trailer debuts, and fans were elated. They thought of all the different ways they could decorate both their homes and their islands, wondering what new and wacky furniture series New Horizons was going to offer. The new furniture crafting system seemed promising as well, and imaginations were alive.

What did New Horizons players get? Plain, wooden sets and little else. Sure, these wooden sets could be customized into different wood colors, but they couldn't replace iconic sets like the Blue and Green furniture sets that have been with the series from the beginning.

Initially fans tried to stave off their disappointment by reminding themselves that New Horizons was an ongoing game. Sure, we didn't have a lot of tables to place all of our countertop furniture on at the beginning of the game, but surely lots of new stuff is coming in updates, right? They did it with Pocket Camp, so it must happen here too!

Can I have my bells back?

The sheer number of items Pocket Camp offered in one month alone was staggering.

Unfortunately, no unique non-seasonal items found their way into the game via updates, outside of rugs. Eventually the mermaid series from New Leaf was released in a summer update, giving fans hope that even if no new furtniture sets outside of the expected holiday items release, at least we'd get the furniture sets from New Leaf back. Where were the Gracie sets, like the Princess and Gorgeous series? Or staples to the franchise, like the Regal and Modern series?

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp June Preview (Image credit: Nintendo)

Meanwhile, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp received new items on a seemingly weekly basis. New fortune cookies, gardening events, holiday events, interior design challenges, you name it. In New Horizons, players could count on the standard holidays like Toy Day and Bunny Day, but there wasn't much to do between holidays besides the off Bug-Off or Fishing Tourney. Except — Pocket Camp had Bug-Offs and Fishing Tourneys, too. The sheer number of items Pocket Camp offered in one month alone was staggering.

Nintendo re-released the amiibo cards from the Sanrio crossover collaboration where players could invite Sanrio villagers to their islands in March of 2021. Given that Sanrio furniture and villagers were also available in Pocket Camp, players assumed that new items would be released.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp Sanrio (Image credit: Nintendo)

This was true... but only for Pocket Camp. Exclusive furniture, clothing, wigs, and handheld plushies (!!!) were released on mobile, but not in New Horizons. Console players got the exact same furniture and clothing items from New Leaf, outside of some new rugs for each character. After so much time, the content of New Horizons felt half-baked compared to its mobile counterpart.

Although Pocket Camp players don't have much interaction with Animal Crossing's iconic NPCs, the game features special furniture pieces to be placed at the campsite that allows players to see NPCs doing what they love. K.K. Slider has a chair to strum his guitar on, Celeste has a telescope to observe stars through, and Brewster has a coffee stall where he can spread the word of coffee and pigeon milk to the masses. Players have been clamoring to have Brewster incorporated since its release, and some are still upset about his absence.

Sea bass? It's at least a C+!

Animal Crossing New Horizons Heartbreak (Image credit: iMore)

While Animal Crossing: New Horizons seemed like the best game to spend quarantine with, the game is starting to fray at the seams over a year later. With not much changing for the second round of Bunny Day, some players have been wondering whether nothing new will be coming to the various holiday events the game has to offer.

For many, Pocket Camp is a more rich game, despite its simplified nature and increasingly pay-to-win mechanics. Though New Horizons performed extremely well in Nintendo's latest financial reports, many players have fallen off due to lacking multiplayer features and, frankly, a barren furniture catalogue with which to express themselves. If Nintendo wants their latest installment in this beloved franchise to be remembered as fondly as New Leaf was upon its release, they're going to need to put in a little more work in the variety department.

Nadine Dornieden

Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.