Magikarp used Splash! (app review)

If you were born in the early 1990’s like me, Pokémon was a staple in your life. I remember playing in the dark, on my Game Boy Color with the light attachment. These nostalgic memories still get grown men and women excited about Pokémon. The craze following the release of Pokémon Go is a testament that people, young and old, still love Pokémon.

Last month, The Pokemon Company put out a game focusing on the Pokémon that we all love to hate: Magikarp.

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump
Pokémon: Magikarp Jump
Pokémon: Magikarp Jump
Pokémon: Magikarp Jump

Gameplay

Magikarp Jump begins in Hoppy Town, a place that is infatuated with Magikarp. These Magikarps are trained to compete in jumping competitions, where the winners earn badges after winning a jumping league. The old rod that you never used in Pokémon finally comes of use because you’ll need it to catch yourself a Magikarp to begin training.

Once you catch your first Magikarp, this is when the fun begins. Magikarp is trained to increase its Jump Power (JP). The higher the JP, the higher your Magikarp will jump in a competition. Magikarp levels up after reaching a certain JP, but is capped based on the trainer’s rank.

There are two main ways to increase Magikarp’s JP: food and training. Food will sporadically pop up in the lake where your Magikarp resides. Simply tapping on the food will increase the JP. Training requires three points that get refreshed after a certain amount of time. The training option will randomly select a training regimen that will increase JP.

Food and training can be upgraded to give more JP with the game’s main currency: gold. Gold can be earned by winning jumping competitions, random encounters, and Pokémon friends. Random encounters as the name suggests occur sporadically, where a resident will give you gold for your training efforts. Pokémon friends can be bought with the game’s rarer currency: diamond. Not all Pokémon friends will give gold. Different Pokémon give training points, extra JP, etc.

There are seven leagues with an additional three expert leagues. Each league has anywhere from 5-20 Magikarps to compete against. Each individual jumping competitions consist of a single tap, where the Magikarp will jump based on its JP. The competition will get harder after each victory.

You’re eventually doomed to lose because Magikarp’s level is capped by the trainer’s rank. Once you lose after maxing out the level and JP, Magikarp will be retired and you’ll have to catch a new one. Each new generation of Magikarp starts fresh and needs to once again be trained and fed. However, this time it’ll be able to get maxed out at a higher level because your trainer’s rank will be higher.

Impressions

Magikarp Jump is a simple, addicting game for people who want minimal involvement. Everything you need to do in this game requires a single tap. This can be mind-numbing for people used to complex gameplay such as Clash Royale.

The game can also get quite repetitive. You won’t be training just one Magikarp. You’ll be going through dozens and dozens of Magikarps and starting over each time. You’ll be able to level the Magikarp quicker as you rank up, but the process itself is quite tedious. You’ll also encounter events where a Pidgeotto will snatch your Magikarp in mid-jump or be blown up by a suicidal Voltorb. The death of your Magikarp will mean you once again have to fish for another Magikarp and start over.

Despite the repetitiveness, I found Magikarp Jump to be quite enjoyable. It doesn’t take much of a time commitment and you can progress relatively quickly through the game without spending a dime. It is also easy to earn both currencies, which is a great change compared to other games. I like to play in half-hour bursts and found myself advancing at a pace that was enjoyable.

The biggest gripe I had with the game is the dialogue. There are times where I found myself getting frustrated by long dialogue that couldn’t be skipped. It messes up the flow of the game, where the only thing I really want to see is if my Magikarp won or not. I don’t care to see the animation of the trainer cheering on the Magikarp or that Mayor Karp (random encounter) wants to massage my Magikarp.

Mayor Karp creepily massaging Magikarp

Overall

The Pokemon Company does an interesting take on an unexpected protagonist: Magikarp. Magikarp Jump is a training simulator where the goal is to train your Magikarp to win jumping leagues. It is incredibly addictive despite the simple controls. If you are a Pokémon lover who likes to play in bursts, this game is for you.

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