Pokemon: Money Pit
The Pokemon Company set the internet into a frenzy on Wednesday when it announced Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee coming later this year, announced that a new “core” RPG was coming to Switch next year, and a new “free to start” game called Pokemon: Quest was out now on Switch. Eager to jump in and see what the latest Nintendo had to offer to Pokemon fans, I downloaded right away. Was I about to embark on a quirky yet fun Pokemon adventure, or was I going to get into a half baked mobile game with a Pokemon coat of paint? Unfortunately, Pokemon Quest is just that – a mobile game with Pokemon.
Tap Tap Tap it in…
The gameplay is simple; you have a team of three Pokemon, enter a level, your team auto runs the level and you smash the special moves buttons until your win or lose. That’s about it. Sure you might want to balance your team or load up on the appropriate type for the boss, but the actual gameplay is just a few taps here and there. Some of the attacks are area of effect attacks, some are massive punches, either way you will be spamming the buttons waiting for the next attack to cool down. As you plow through each level you will eventually reach a level with a power requirement higher than your own. That is when you go back and waste one of your precious battery charges to do some older missions. While you are battling you get cooking ingredients to make food that attracts new Pokemon to your camp, or you get stones to help power up your Pokemon. This seems attractive at first, but quickly becomes cumbersome as you fill up your box quickly and have to spend PM Tickets to fit more.
When you use stones to get some boosts to stats or attacks, the stones stay in your inventory. By the time you reach the teens in Pokemon level, each member of your team should be able to hold around 4 stones on average. That means 12 stones will be sitting in your box that holds 20. That leaves only 8 slots available to fill on expeditions. Don’t worry, you can spend an in-game currency to double the box space. Don’t have the currency on hand? You can spend real money to get more! And that, my friends, is where this game loses all its charm and is exposed for what it really is; a money pit.
Stephen Uses Play Game…it failed
The game has so many ways to try and get you to spend money. It is a classic mobile game in its predatory nature. This would be fine, if it weren’t a Pokemon game. Something tells me this one is going to cost parents a lot of money. It really is astounding how many ways they try and get you to spend in-game currency. Want to decorate your park to get some boosts? Pay me. Want to do more than 5 missions in a row instead of wait for your timer? Pay me. Want to keep your items when you die in mission? Pay me. Want to increase your bag size? Pay me. You want to increase your pokebox size? Pay me. If you were earning the PM tickets at a faster clip of 5-10 per hour I’d say this was a fine model to keep you engaged, but the fact that you can only do 5 missions before needing to wait a cool-down timer out just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I want to be the very best…
It may sound like I hate this game, but that can’t be farther from the truth. This game is stupid fun. It is charming and mindless. A perfect time waster while watching a show or riding the train. The addiction to collecting Pokemon is as strong as ever and upgrading my team is satisfying when I can do it. As much as a simply hate the micro-transaction model peppered all over this game, I cannot help but push to the next expedition or replay the previous boss battle to find better loot. If you can look through the brush in your way, a good time can be had here. Hearing the classic Pokemon’s battle cries while they battle all over with flashy moves can be highly entertaining.
Quest has a ton of charm, but has you waiting for timers to tick down, spending in game currency to speed things up or give you a boost, and questioning whether you should spend a few bucks to make things a little more fun. The mobile game “free to play” model hurts what is otherwise a fun, although mind numbing, Pokemon game. Only the hardest of the hardcore Pokemon fans will stick with this one past the first few areas, while others will stick to their 3DS until Let’s Go Pikachu comes out in November. If Nintendo decides to slap a $10 price tag and remove all the ridiculous artificial barriers and micro-transactions, this game could be a must own for Pokemon fans.