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What’s in Your Box: Puzzle Camp

/ Dec 2nd, 2017 No Comments

Puzzle Fighter

It’s been a while… but now that the first hump of the holiday season is over, I have more boxy goodness to share. Since we last spoke, my phone has blown up. Thanks to the release of some hotly anticipated phone games, I’ve been glued to my phone. My box has been ruled by Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Puzzle Fighter.

Glamping with Chrissy

When Nintendo originally announced it would bring two of its popular titles to mobile as free-to-play games, I was skeptical. After Fire Emblem Warriors, I was more eager to see how well Animal Crossing would translate to the free-to-play model. Turns out, it does it pretty well.

Animal Crossing is a hard series to grasp if you’ve never played it before. Understanding why you’d want to catch butterflies and pick fruit while doing an endless series of favors for animals can be confusing at first. It is a game about being a good host, a trusted friend, and altruistic, which is a stark change from most games.

For veterans though, it is like slipping on an old pair of shoes or eating your mother’s home cooking.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

I wonder how salacious this proposition is going to be.

Pocket Camp puts in charge of your own camp site. You can decorate your camp how you see fit with furniture and special attractions like tents or rock stages, as well as design and upgrade your camper.

It is not Animal Crossing without activities or animals to satisfy. The game has multiple places to travel to in order to fish, catch bugs, collect seashells, and pick fruit.

Gathering these items is important because you’ll need them to court animals to your campsite and nurture your relationships. However, upping your relationship isn’t enough, you’ll need to craft furniture to host your friend.

There are a lot of ways to customize your experience, and items to craft. Crafting furniture is necessary in order to bring animals to your campsite. You need to decorate the space to their likings so they want to hang out with you. Nobody wants to hang out with a square, picante!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp let’s you live the best life possible.

In a lot of ways it is more Animal Crossing, which is amazing because it is more Animal Crossing. However, the free-to-play aspects are predictably time-based. Crafting furniture and attractions take time, and completing more favors for animals takes time after completing three. The microtransactions are built around speeding thing up.

The other free-to-play aspect is a new level system. You level up by talking to your friends, completing favors and improving your campsite to further your relationships. Every time you level up, you gain bonus rewards and a new animal to become friends with and host at your campsite.

This feeds into the other aspects as a way to drive players to buy leaf tickets, but it is a cool addition in spite of the monetary drive. Seeing progress based on your relationships is extremely satisfying and keeps propelling your forward every time you open it up and do something.

For many, this is a huge hindrance as it stops them from losing themselves in that pure Animal Crossing crack, but it works for me. It distills the experience into bite sized chunks. I can pick it up at night, do my stuff and then move on, which is good because I have another phone love.

Ready, Set, Puzzle!

As much as I love Animal Crossing, I ****ing love Puzzle Fighter. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a game I’ve spent hours playing both at home and at arcades. It is absolutely perfect. The gameplay is flawless and impossible to put down.

When Capcom announced Puzzle Fighter for mobile phones, I was sold. Regardless of any free-to-play caveats or a lack of a single-player aspect, it had to be mine. The wait became agonizing.

If I was thankful for anything last week, it was Puzzle Fighter get a proper release. Sadly, it doesn’t fair as well Animal Crossing with a shift over to mobile and the free-to-play genre.

Unlike Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, the free-to-play boundaries and stinginess with offering an ability to remove those boundaries via actual play keep you from getting your Puzzle Fighter fix. The loot box aspect, however, is kind of cool. It gives you an RPG-ish aspect to upgrading your fighters.

The free-to-play aspect aside, it is the Puzzle Fighter you want. Combining gems to create larger gems then exploding them with crash gems to damage your opponent. Creating combos using junk just elevates your play. It is easy to pick up, endlessly addictive, and difficult to master.

Puzzle Fighter

Battle players in real time, come on!

This isn’t simply the same gameplay grafted to a free-to-play model on your phone. They added a lot of RPG elements to the game, and the ability to pick support characters in battle creating gem affinities. You can now utilize moves by setting up specific gem arrangements. There is a lot more depth now other than being good at setting up chains.

The focus is competitive play with the ability to play online against other competitors. To aid this you gain ranking points for each victory, in addition to a spin at E. Honda’s sushi joint for a loot box.

As you gain more ranking points, you’ll increase your rank and compete at higher levels. There are a lot of swings to upping your rank. Every win is satisfying as your points climb, but every loss is excruciating and frustrating, especially because you can be busted back to the rank prior if you lose enough points.

Puzzle Fighter has its strong points, and it is ****ing great to get another stab at that addictive puzzle gameplay. However, I really wish it was on a console like the Switch and a full game without the free-to-play hooks.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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