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Pokémon: Magikarp Jump Review

/ Jun 5th, 2017 No Comments

Since debuting in 1996’s Pokémon, Magikarp has been a punching bag for gamers. The reason: the water-based creature is one of the worst Pokémon to use in battle due to a lack of any real combat skills. This infamous reputation has followed Magikarp since.

Nintendo’s Pokémon: Magikarp Jump for iOS and Android mobile devices seeks to kneecap that unfavorable reception. The title is one of the most ambitious and bizarre attempts to redeem the often lambasted character. The result is one of the most strange, yet innovative Pokémon spin-off titles to date.

Welcome to Hoppy Town

Magikarp Jump is a raising simulator in which you are tasked with building up a strong Magikarp.

The setting this time is a much smaller locale known as Hoppy Town, a small community populated with Magikarp who are practically worshipped by villagers.

You play as a nameless trainer tasked by the town’s mayor to raise Magikarp. The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to become the league champion of the town and help raise the spirits of both villagers and Magikarp alike.

Magikarp’s notorious reputation as a horrible fighter won’t be an obstacle. You’ll instead be strengthening Magikarp in order to better make use of its normally useless non-combative skill of jumping. This is essential as you’ll be trying to outjump the Magikarp of other skilled trainers.

Long-time Pokémon players will be happy to know that the game does its best to stay true to the trademark presentation the franchise has come to be known for. The well-polished graphics, solidly composed music and a light-hearted atmosphere provide a welcome mat to Pokémon players and gamers in general.

Full of Spirit

Magikarp Jump is a very unorthodox Pokémon game. For starters, you’ll only be able to own and raise Magikarp.

Much of the game takes place in a pond. There, you’ll be spending much of your time feeding and training your Magikarp in order to level up. This is accomplished using a very simple touch-based interface that allows players to feed and manage their Magikarp with ease. There’s practically no learning curve meaning you’ll be turning you little fishy into a jumping champion in no time.

Though you’ll only be raising Magikarp, the game tries to make the experience a fun and incentivizing one. Players who keep training their Magikarp and winning league battles net rewards such as upgrade items to speed up its training and even customize the pond it resides in. Your trainer will level up if you do well in training your Magikarp, allowing you to catch better Magikarp with higher maximum levels.

There are appearances by other Pokémon to keep you company. They aren’t just there to enliven your pond but are designed to help strengthen and give aid to your Magikarp. Pikachu, for example, can provide bonus jump points to help level up your Magikarp and give a random cheer boost during jump contests if assigned to support you.

The game is challenging, featuring a well-balanced difficulty spike as you start winning leagues. It’s also very possible for the Magikarp you catch to be forced into retirement early. This can happen due to it evolving into its more battle-superior form of Gyrados or, even worse, dying. The possibility of death is a significant feature that until now has never been present in a Pokémon game. It pushes players to be wary and strategic in the raising of Magikarp.

But this glum feature is offset by one of Magikarp Jump’s most delightful features: humor. The game doesn’t take itself seriously and expects no less from you either. The game’s comedy is handled very well and can best be described as a parody of regular Pokémon titles. Those who are familiar with the tropes of the franchise can expect to see them turned on their head in ways that are sure to at least create grins if not outright laughter.

A Half-Baked Course

Magikarp Jump is a short experience. With only a handful of rewards and currently only 10 leagues to master, players can expect to dominate this game and find little motivation to keep playing after becoming a supreme champion of Hoppy Town’s Magikarp league.

Even worse, Magikarp Jump succumbs to the trappings of the now prevalent pay-to-play model. It’s  entirely possible to complete this game without digging into your wallet, but expect a trying experience if you go that route. Don’t be surprised to find yourself tapping constantly on food for half-an-hour waiting peevishly to be able to access quicker training options.

This is a far cry from main titles in the Pokémon franchise that go beyond simply raising your Pokemon. The franchise is well-known for granting players the ability to explore and interact with its huge open-ended universe. Not being to at least explore Hoppy Town at minimum is a huge stepback in this regard and creates more tedium.

Overall

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump helps redeem a video game character that has been the butt of jokes for years and transforms it into a character we can better appreciate. But that is this game’s only definitive success as Magikarp Jump is a title that needs improvement.

True, it is addicting and does certainly shine in recreating the Pokémon universe in a new way. But its best features are at best hiding a game that needs far more expansion and fine tuning to be considered a truly excellent mobile game experience.

Still, if you’re a fan of Pokémon or just someone looking for an amusing and quirky means of killing time, Magikarp Jump in its current iteration is sure to be an interesting experience.

 

Jonathan Anson

Jonathan Anson

Jonathan has been a lover of video games since his father brought home a Windows 95 computer. When he's not doing that he indulges in his other passion: writing. Jonathan holds an AA degree in Journalism from Saddleback College in Southern California.
Jonathan Anson
Jonathan Anson

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POKéMON: MAGIKARP JUMP REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall75%

ADDICTIVENESS7.5

If you can forgive the tediousness of raising your Magikarp, you'll find the experience to be a bizarrely addicting one.

GAMEPLAY7

Simple and engaging gameplay is sadly undermined by the game's use of a pushy pay-to-play model.

PRESENTATION8

Excellent 2D-based graphics and sounds maintain the trademark style of the Pokemon franchise

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