When I heard that there was a Pokemon-themed mobile game with jump in the title, I immediately let out the same groan that I’m sure many others have. The ‘ANOTHER platform-jumping game’ groan that falls under the same category as the ‘ANOTHER refinance-your-house-to-win Clash of Clans knock-off.’ You know what I’m talking about. However, Magikarp Jump is not your standard platform jumping game. Suck it, Doodle Jump! In that same regard, I have a really hard time figuring out if I personally classify Magikarp Jump as a game at all.
Magikarp Jump, available for Android and iOS for free (with a pay platform as well… shocker), is just a series of screen taps that’s even less involving than a title like Adventure Capitalist. Regardless, I’m having a hard time putting it down. It’s a very rinse-and-repeat series of training, dull jumping competitions, and catching new Magikarp when your current one dies. And, yes, I said when it dies. Magikarp Jump is the most morbid Pokemon title to date because they don’t faint. They die. Sometimes a terrible death in the beak of a Pidgeotto or at the spontaneous explosion of a Voltorb that your idiotic character couldn’t differentiate from a Pokeball. Sometimes, they just die because you over-exerted them. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they died because they got tired of being on an Apple device instead of an Android device. Is it wrong to be so upset about the most worthless Pokemon of all dying a random death? Maybe. It is justified, however, because it feels weird being someone who has literally grown up playing with Pokemon who could only faint and now I have a bucket’s worth of Magikarp that have died by my hands (or rather my fingertips). This is not a God-role I’m proud to say I’ve assumed, yet this game continues to make me come back. Even when my Magikarp that is mere moments away from my current MAX level dies because of some random event that I was too curious to walk away from.
I suppose I should break down the game so you can put my frustrations into context, eh? Magikarp Jump is a very simple concept. You fish a Magikarp in the same way you select a Pokemon at the start of any of the core titles. You pick an Old Rod rather than a Pokeball, and then your character fishes up a Magikarp. Magikarp can have different statistics and patterns, which adds some variety to an otherwise plain character, and gives players more reason to stick around. You can abandon your catch at the cost of Diamonds (an in-game currency that can be bought with actual monies), or you can accept that sometimes you’re dealt a bad hand and own it like a champion.
Once you get your Magikarp, you have to level it up for competition in a series of ways. There are fruits that consistently spawn in the water your Magikarp lives in, each of which provides a different amount of experience (JP, which I think means Jump Points, but does it really matter?) that can be further leveled up using coins (another in-game currency). Also, you can train your Magikarp. You max out at 3 Training points, and it takes 30 minutes for one point to replenish. So, random events aside, you can ‘train’ your Magikarp 3 times in a row once every hour and a half. The training events are extremely simple and literally just require tapping on the screen, and that’s only if you want extra experience. You can do literally nothing and still get experience in the training sessions. Eating fruit is the same way. You press a fruit and your Magikarp eats the fruit. The last way to level up is not controlled by you, but rather these random events that occur in the game. Sometimes, the event is as simple as someone walking up to you and giving your Magikarp praise, which raises it’s JP, or it can be a game of chance where you opt to either avoid the event or take your chances and risk your Magikarp dying.
Both your Magikarp and your Trainer have experience levels, and as your Trainer levels up, the max level you can raise a Magikarp to increases. When you get to a high enough level, you can even evolve your Magikarp into a Gyarados, which I think is the real reason anybody picked up this game. Outside of the standard methods of training, you can purchase and unlock assist Pokemon, items, and decorations that can be for both cosmetic and beneficial appeal. The actual competitive jumping in the game currently only takes place between the player and an NPC, takes about 2 seconds per round, and requires as much effort as blinking or breathing. You literally do not have to do anything, thus almost all of the gameplay in this game comes from the training. It would be like if Rocky went through the same training as in the movie, but he was a professional Chair-Sitter rather than a Boxer.
Despite being near-effortless, there are lots of things to enjoy about Magikarp Jump, even if you dislike the gameplay or lack thereof. First, Magikarp Jump is a really vibrant game. It’s in a cartoon style reminiscent of the show, but the colors really pop out. The characters have a bit of an adorable design to them and if you pay attention to detail in this game, such as the various patterns of the Magikarp, there’s a good deal to appreciate about it. In addition to great visuals, the sound in the game is crisp and is fun, in a fitting sense. The music in the game isn’t nearly as annoying as that in other, repetitive mobile games (I’m looking at you, Doc McStuffins!) and it’s a tad catchy as well. It is bordering that fine line between upbeat and annoying but ends up staying put on the side of upbeat. The game also functions really well; likely a result of it being such a simple graphical design. The menus and such are easy to traverse through and the game, thus far, has never force closed, slowed down/froze, or crashed on my Samsung Galaxy S7.
Magikarp Jump is yet another addition to the small raft of Nintendo Mobile games in a seemingly never-ending, over-saturated sea of mobile gaming. Most of the Nintendo games, thus far, have proven to be a step above others, even when comparing to some of the big-name developers that port their games to mobile devices. Magikarp Jump continues the trend of fun, well-developed titles that Nintendo has released. While it lacks innovation, and even gameplay, for the most part, I found the vibrant visuals, crisp sound, and extremely simplistic controls to be enough to keep me entertained for a few hours. Magikarp Jump is a game to maybe get you through a plane ride or a business meeting. I don’t think this is a game that will be widely played months down the road, but it’s a fun time-killer and it’s a nice change of pace from the complexities of almost everything else I play.
NOTE: Peeridium does not condone the playing of Magikarp Jump during business meetings… just kidding. Hell yeah, we do.