It's fair to say that Nintendo's latest mobile title, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, has met with a mixed reception.
In the press, reviewers have expressed a number of complaints about the game, including its monetisation mechanics, intermittent server issues and lack of certain gameplay elements that were found in earlier console versions of Animal Crossing.
Among users, however, the game is getting undeniably stellar reviews on both the Apple App Store (5 stars) and the Google Play Store (4.5 stars), with many people expressing happiness that Animal Crossing's particular style of gentle, sociable gameplay has finally found its way onto their phones.
Subjective opinions aside, GameBench can at least confirm that Nintendo has done a solid job with the game's optimisation, in terms of both graphics and power consumption and across both iOS and Android. This careful optimisation is clearly paying dividends in the user review scores, because Google's breakdown shows that "Graphics" is the highest-rated aspect of the game among users (4.6 stars, compared to 4.4 stars for actual gameplay).
A quick check of GameBench's Reference Data reveals that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp only delivers graphics at 30 frames per second, rather than an ultra-smooth 60fps. However, this slower frame rate is arguably sufficient for the slower pace of gameplay.
More importantly, Nintendo has achieved a remarkable degree of frame rate stability across all devices we've tested. Average variability between consecutive frame rate readings stays well below 2fps, even on budget phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. This predicts that the vast majority of mobile gamers will perceive the game to be smooth, which is why we've awarded "Smooth" badges for performance in our reference table and on PocketGamer's review.
At the same time, Nintendo has optimised Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp to deliver more than three hours of gameplay on a charge, even on devices with relatively minuscule batteries like the iPhone 6. Most games in our reference table fail to achieve this three-hour benchmark on the iPhone 6, including Nintendo's previous big mobile release, Super Mario Run, as well as other online-only games like Snail Games' Taichi Panda 3.
On bigger phones with more battery capacity, the game should easily run for more than five hours, which is all the more impressive given that it requires a constant internet connection. One exception is the LG G5 -- a device which GameBench has revealed to have power management problems across a wide range of apps and games, such that the issue cannot really be blamed on Nintendo.
Overall, Nintendo has once again shown that it's ahead of the crowd when it comes to mastering mobile optimisation, despite the fact that it came to mobile platforms quite late. By allocating the necessary time to performance testing and QA, the company has managed to preemptively protect itself from bad user reviews, leaving its app store rating largely unscathed despite negative opinions of the game that have been reported in the press.