Nintendo's journey into the world of mobile games has been quite the adventure. They've come a long way since the lukewarm reception they got from Miitomo and Super Mario Run. It's taking some getting used to, but they've slowly been embracing the free-to-play model. Something people have been anticipating, both with fervent excitement, and absolute dread.
Their most popular mobile hit so far, Fire Emblem Heroes, straddles a pretty fine line already. The reliance on microtransactions to get further if one doesn't want to wait or grind can be a little much at times at higher levels, and the random roulette you have to play just to get heroes is pretty close to gambling.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp looks to raise that bar though, into dangerously mature microtransactions. Any and every obstacle you may encounter can be fixed now, with a little bit of real world money.
"Leaf Tickets" will be the new definitive currency of Animal Crossing, the miracle cure to all of your crossing animal woes. Things can happen faster, items can be obtained sooner, and friendships can be acquired instantaneously. No longer will you have to catch bugs or fish to pay off your house. You can just take out a loan on your actual house to pay for your Animal Crossing one.
The extent of what Leaf Tickets can do is frightening. Basically, if you're willing to pay for it, you can do it. In my time, with the Leaf Tickets alloted with my review copy, I had become a monster. After I'd purchased my plot of land, a new animal had moved in slightly too close, killing my orchard of apple trees. When the game prompted me to fix it with Leaf Tickets, a raccoon with a crowbar appeared on screen. There was blood. I couldn't believe that they would actually animate such a crime. It took several in-game hours for the house to burn. I went to bed, and when I woke up, my apples were there again. He had just disappeared. The in-game police had nothing to say. They're just the lost and found.
Leaf tickets can get you any piece of furniture in the game. Even if it belongs to someone else. They can be exchanged for money. Lots of it. More land, more clothes. Whatever you want, Leaf Tickets will get you what you need.
Your animal neighbors now have friendship meters, which can be leveled up by talking to them and doing things for them. Or, like anything else in the game, you can buy their unending adoration.
When the screen prompted me, I had a few Leaf Tickets left, so I figured, you know. Let's just give it a try. The villager was promptly called off screen. When she returned, she was trembling. I was invited back to her campsite. Before I knew what was going on, we were in her camper. The horn kept going off because she was bent over the steering wheel. She was the one that initiated things, but she cried when everything was done and over with. When the game asked if I was satisfied with my purchase, I said no. The villager didn't show up in my village again. Her house disappeared too.
The touch controls are a little confusing sometimes too. The next villager I paid to have their friend meter maxed out, I couldn't figure out how to loosen my grip on their neck. After some swiping and tapping, I just gave up and watched the animation. I don't think it was even interactive at that point, I was just watching the animal go limp. Their body went cold, but my player avatar didn't stop for another hour. They had a knife.
Another satisfaction survey popped up while the raccoons dragged her assorted limbs off screen. I rated it 5 stars, just so it'd stop popping up. It made me write a review on Google Play. That was the only thing Leaf Tickets couldn't make go away. I uninstalled the game after.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp can currently be downloaded for those in Australia. All others will have to wait for the full game to come out in late November.