Pokémon: Magikarp Jump! (iOS, Android)

Because of the popularity of Pokémon GO, the Pokémon Company is really embracing the mobile market.  Now there is a separate game starring everyone’s favorite Pokémon character.  No, it’s not Pikachu or Meowth.  Not Snorlax or Mewtwo.  Oh wait, did I say favorite?  What I meant was this game stars the most useless Pokémon of all: the flopping fish Magikarp!  Yup, he has his own game in Magikarp Jump!, a free-to-play downloadable title on mobile devices (but reviewed on iPad here).  You’re just going to have to check this one out to believe it!

In the game you play as a trainer who has come to a town where everyone loves Magikarp.  They even train them to compete in jumping competitions to see who can flop the highest.  But lately the Magikarp have lost their ambition, so it’s up to you to train them and save the town!  The game is really nothing more than a virtual pet fish tank simulator, and probably should’ve been an April Fools’ Day gag.

The game has three main phases, but there is little actual gameplay to be had, as you just make selections through menus most of the time.  The first phase is the Magikarp pond where your current Magikarp lives.  You can tap on berries in the pond for the Magikarp to eat to help it gain levels.  As you play, other Pokémon will stay at your pond and help the Magikarp grow.  For instance, Pikachu will give Magikarp extra experience points, Snorlax will give it food, and Pinplup will give it an extra training point.  You’ll have to wait a while to use the other Pokémon’s skills again, though.

At the pond you can also access a shop.  Here you can buy new kinds of food and training regiments, as well as upgrade them.  You can also recruit new Pokémon helpers and decorate your pond as well.  These items cost coins and diamonds, which you get by winning matches among other ways.  You can also use real money to buy extra diamonds if you wish.

The next mode is training.  Here you’ll pick a random regiment to help boost your Magikarp’s experience points.  As you gain levels, you can upgrade your training and buy new regiments as well, each one better than the last.  You’ll have three training points to use, and must wait a while before they refill.  Sometimes after training, a random event may occur.  Sometimes you’ll even have a choice as to what to do in these events.  But it’s best to go with the conservative choice, as the consequences can be dire if you are unlucky.  For instance, you may run across a tree with berries in it.  Do you choose to have Magikarp jump for the berries and get experience points?  If you do, you’ll risk having your Magikarp get picked up by a swooping Pidgeotto, and then you must start over with a new Magikarp.

The last mode are the league battles, where you’ll compete with other Magikarp to see who can jump the highest.  You’ll travel to each battle via a map screen.  You don’t have control over the battles, if your Magikarp has more experience than the other, it’ll jump higher.  Once you lose a battle, you’ll have to wait a while before competing again.  When you win battles, you’ll earn coins, diamonds, and trainer points.  The higher your trainer level is, the more training regiments you can use and you’ll be able to fish out Magikarp who can be raised to higher levels.  Once your Magkarp is at its highest level and can’t win any more battles, you’ll retire it and fish for a new one and start the process over again.  Luckily, the new Magikarp will gain experience faster than the old one.

And that’s all there is to Magikarp Jump!  The game is very repetitive, but I did like the colorful graphics and it did hold my interest longer than most other free-to-play games do.  I think Pokémon fans should download this, simply for the novelty of it all.

Kid Factor:

Kids love Pokémon, so they’ll probably enjoy this one no matter what.  Violence is minimal and very cartoony.  For instance, after a high jump, a Magikarp will smack down into the ground and leave an imprint, Wile E. Coyote style.   If you’re OK with your kids playing the other Pokémon games and watching the TV cartoon and movies, they’ll be OK here, too.  Reading skill is a must for the text, and parental supervision is recommended for the in-game ads and purchases.  And even then, that kind of stuff is not very intrusive in this game.

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