Want to play Animal Crossing without Nintendo Switch? Try Pocket Camp

Yeah, that’s my bug dress.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a comfort blanket for Nintendo Switch players during the coronavirus pandemic. The game’s simple tasks, like catching fish and bugs, decorating your island, gardening, and picking fruit – even just stopping near a friends island say hello – are help a lot to cope with the loss of normality. Island life began to bleed into reality with people turn their actual living spaces into makeshift havens. One of our editors even launched a virtual birthday party in the game.

I admit, a little FOMO installed when I saw so many of my friends playing the game, but I don’t know if I could justify buy a nintendo switch — especially as gaming devices are sold out almost everywhere right now. Fortunately, there is another option: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

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Eugene is a pretty cool koala.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Pocket Camp is a free version of Animal Crossing available on iOS and android. In Pocket Camp, you are in charge of a campsite: craft furniture, customize your tent and customize your motorhome. You can travel to different places of recreation, meet animals and develop your friendships in exchange for rewards. During your visit, you can fish, pick fruit, and collect bugs to trade later. Any friends you make can also visit your campsite.

Read more: Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates add gardening, art sales, wedding season

Here are five reasons why Pocket Camp is worth a visit:

You are new to Animal Crossing

If you’ve never ventured into the world of Animal Crossing, you can quickly learn the ropes with Pocket Camp. I played Animal Crossing: New Leaf at the time, and quickly became frustrated with Tom Nook, a surly capitalist raccoon. Pocket Camp was a lot less frustrating for me than starting with New Horizons.

Pocket Camp also offers a smaller world to manage compared to New Horizons. There are four recreation locations to explore: Breezy Hollow, Lost Lure Creek, Saltwater Shores, and Sunburst Island. The longer you play, the more places you’ll unlock on the map, like Pete’s Parcel Service, Happy Home Showcase, and Gulliver’s Ship.

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Catch bugs on Sunburst Island.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

In addition, the tasks are easier on the mobile version, and update daily. Essentially, you get big rewards for scooping everything off the ground and shaking all the trees. Who needs Nook Miles?

You don’t have a switch

As fun as New Horizons looks, one game isn’t enough to shell out big bucks for a Nintendo Switch, assuming you can find one right now. Even if you have money, getting a Switch is difficult due to increased demand. If you’re not planning on buying a Switch, Pocket Camp is a great way to scratch the FOMO itch without breaking the bank.

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I’m glad everyone feels at home enough to nap.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

No system is required or Pocket Camp – you can download it for free on your mobile device. I play mine on my iPad. As a casual gamer, this is a big draw for me. If you watch your budget, this could also be an advantage.

Playing the game on mobile eliminates the added complication of learning controls. Everything in Pocket Camp is right at your fingertips, so if you’re more of a mobile gamer, there’s not much of a learning curve.


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Bells are life

In my experience, it was very easy to accumulate Bells, the currency of Animal Crossing, in Pocket Camp. You can earn bells by fulfilling requests from other animals and completing small collection challenges. The game also features Leaf Tickets, which are another form of currency you can use to craft items for your campsite. You’ll get fewer Leaf Tickets through regular play, but you can also choose to buy more with real money (the game is free to download, but there are optional in-app purchases like this). Leaf Tickets can speed up crafting and unlock more items, but I liked that Pocket Camp still let you experience the full game without paywalls.

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A glimpse of my motorhome (left) and my garden (right).

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Read more: 17 best Animal Crossing: New Horizons tips for all players

You don’t have much time

Animal Crossing: New Horizon is quite involved, but Pocket Camp offers a simpler gameplay experience. For example, every three hours there is a new animal in a given place. Mobile gaming is designed more for short daily playtimes than hours of immersion. You can play longer, of course – there will just be less to unlock, unless you use Request Tickets to complete more tasks for your friends.

Even though there’s a constant stream of events happening in Pocket Camp, you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. Also, there’s a good chance the events won’t be as complex as New Horizons, like Bunny Day, the island’s equivalent of Easter. The first event I attended was Sakura Picnic in the Park. Most, if not all, of the tasks involved collecting sakura glass spheres, which were often rewards when I completed tasks.

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My sister and I ended up on Pocket Camp.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The social aspect of Pocket Camp is also a bit different. If any of your friends (in real life) play Pocket Camp, you can add yourself using your pincode. The downside is that you can’t “play together” like you would in New Horizons. When you visit a friend’s campsite, you will only see him standing next to his camper. Tap on it and you can see their market box or give them kudos.

goldie is everything

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Goldie is one of the best parts of Pocket Camp.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Pocket Camp doesn’t skimp on cute characters. One of the first friends I made was Goldie, a friendly village dog. I usually find her dozing by my tent with the little flowery hat I gave her. Each animal has a distinct personality based on its style – cute, cool, natural, sporty, rustic, trendy, elegant, modern or historic.

With Goldie, Jay and Filbert are currently hanging around my campsite. You can ask any animal to come to your camp, but they will make some rather bold requests in exchange for their friendship. According to their style, they will ask you to acquire certain pieces for their comfort. Invitations get harder to complete the longer you play, but so far that doesn’t stop the game if you don’t keep inviting animals.

You’ll also notice a distinct lack of Tom Nook. Instead, you’ll meet Tommy and Timmy Nook in the market, but don’t worry, you can’t go into debt with them. Instead, you can take out loans at OK Motors. The shop is owned by Giovanni and his bird brothers Beppe and Carlo. The trio works quickly if you order upgrades for your motorhome, but that will come at a price. On the positive side, they are quite relaxed on reimbursement.

If you’re at all curious about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I highly recommend picking up your phone and checking out Pocket Camp to see if it’s the right game to help ease your pandemic boredom and anxiety.

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