I have to admit, Pokémon: Magikarp Jump is not what I expected when I first heard about this title. I had figured it would be a cash grab taking advantage of the Pokémon name, but in all actuality, it is an interesting casual game that just about anyone can enjoy.
The premise starts out simple enough. Mayor Karp of Hoppy Town gives you a fishing pole, which is then used to catch your first Pokémon, a Magikarp. Once a Magikarp is in your possession, Mayor Karp slowly introduces you to the mechanics of the gameplay.
Your first task is to feed your newly found Magikarp. You do this by storing it in a large tank that has an assortment of floating food. Simply tapping on this food as it floats by will allow you to eat it. An action that will level up your Magikarp. Once you have eaten everything in the tank, you are then shown how to train for battle. There will only be one training mode at the beginning of the game, but more can be unlocked once you progress a little bit further. You can expect all of these training modes to consist of simple mini-games where you tap on the screen. While there is very little actual strategy to these modes, it can still be fun watching your fish flop around furiously. Once you have sufficiently leveled up through feeding and training, it's now time to start a battle.
Battles work by making your way through particular leagues. The first is titled Friend League, and it only has 5 fights available. Each and every fight you join will see you go head to head against another Magikarp in order to find out who can jump the highest. Keep in mind that there are no actions for you to perform in these battles. Whether you win or lose is entirely dependent on how well you have trained before the fight. All advancement in the game is reliant on this single factor.
When it comes to leveling up, there are items you can purchase that will help in this endeavor. The first thing you will notice in the store is that there are two types of currency used, coins and diamonds. Coins you will earn as you play and can be used for increasing your food and training leveling ability. The more you spend on each, the more you level up when you take advantage of them. The secondary currency, diamonds, are a premium currency that is a lot harder to earn through play. The easiest method of obtaining it is through an in-app purchase. If you have enough diamonds, you can buy an assortment of items that will speed up your progression. So far I have run into little issue not purchasing any of these items. Late game may be another story altogether.
When it comes to the game's IAPs, they do not seem as egregious as they are in many free-to-play titles. The highest price is $34.99 per item. Surely a number that pales in comparison to the standard $99.99 we see in every other FTP game. The Play Store also states that there are advertisements included with this release, but after playing for a few hours, the only thing that even resembled an ad was a link to the Magikarp Song.
Understandably many of you may think that this is a game geared towards children, and that may be true, but there is still fun to be had by any age. The main thing to take away from this hands-on is that Pokémon: Magikarp Jump is a casual game. There is very little actual gameplay to dive into. You train, eat, and then train again. Now repeat this process until you feel you have leveled up enough to go into battle. As you would imagine, this repetition becomes more and more drawn out, the further you progress. Sure there are different Magikarp to collect, and yeah it can be fun collecting all 8 gym badges, but essentially you do the same thing over and over again, which can get tiring.
Whether or not you are a Pokémon fan, there is definitely some enjoyment to be found in this release. The fact that the game was made out of an often unused Pokémon character is pretty interesting. Sure this won't be the deepest gaming experience you have ever had. But it does offer a great distraction for your downtime that is easy to jump into and play. You can pick up Pokémon: Magikarp Jump today for free, with little to no nagging concerning the game's in-app purchases. As far as I am concerned I will take this as a win in these IAP laden times.