Pocket Mortys Review - It's Just Like Pokemon

It's Rick and Morty meets Pokemon, literally.

Pocket Mortys Battle
Adult Swim

Pocket Mortys is a Pokemon game, but with Rick and Morty characters. There's not really any way around that. You capture and collect different versions of Morty, the hapless co-protagonist of Rick and Morty, from alternate dimensions, leveling up your various ​Mortys. This is all in the name of getting badges to get Rick's portal gun back, and to just collect all the Mortys for the fun of it. The monster-catching works identically to Pokemon, where you have to weaken a Morty and then use an item to capture him.

The overworld system has some differences, but having to fight any trainers you bypass is totally familiar. 

Adaptation At Its Best

This is not a bad thing because it's very hard to do a good Pokemon-style game. Pocket Mortys is honestly quite smart in how it manages to just copy what works and only adapt as necessary to work as a free-to-play mobile game. The rock-paper-scissors combat elemental system is clever in that it both manages to parody the elemental systems that RPGs and monster training games use in being literally rock-paper-scissors. You know how rock-paper-scissors works, the relationship is well-balanced, so it works really well for this game.

And in fact, that's a great way to describe the whole experience: the game lifts things that work, makes some modifications for parody's sake and for making a smaller-scale mobile game, but usually in the game's favor. The game is literally formulaic but in a good way.

The Pokemon formula is a proven one, and Pocket Mortys doesn't muck too much with what works. Raising your Mortys into powerful fighters is rewarding. Getting a cool and/or rare Morty feels great. Getting the elemental advantage on your opponent is satisfying. The structure, where you can play through short, random levels to get more badges, feels like a great fit for a mobile game versus just exploring an overworld, and makes the game feel a bit more alive than just having a static world because everything is always in the same place.

And having the Mortys constantly express their displeasure serves as a humorous-but-macabre reminder of just what exactly you're doing here, and how ridiculous traveling the world, capturing creatures and then fighting them actually is.

Inspired By A Great Show

The entire setup of the game represents the spirit of the TV show Rick and Morty quite well. Even just being a light but knowing parody of Pokemon fits in well with the series' ethos of being aware of science-fiction tropes and celebrating them while poking fun at them. Pocket Mortys manages to do just that, poking fun at Pokemon while simultaneously being a good Pokemon game. It feels like a concept the show would explore. There are several returning characters, including Jerry being a perpetually bad trainer, some recognizable Mortys, Bird Person, and the dopey Rick that Jerry befriended in season 1. Even the music winds up being adaptations of songs from the first 2 seasons of Rick and Morty. It's a game that Rick and Morty fans can enjoy without feeling like it's just a cheap tie-in.

Pocket Mortys is free-to-play, and even its TV ads boast that it's not pay-to-win. The main way that the game monetizes is through a lottery/gacha system through the Blips and Chitz machines, where you can buy or occasionally earn tickets to get items and a random Morty for yourself.

However, many of the Mortys can be found randomly wandering the levels, and it's quite possible to grind to get more money, items, and materials. In fact, you can't buy more money, you can only earn it through in-game actions or through watching video ads. Basically, all spending real-world cash on this game does is speed up your grinding and collecting.

Don't Be Afraid To Fail

Oddly, the game's progression makes it so that absolute failure, where all your Mortys fall in battle, is actually not a bad thing. There's not a penalty for doing so, as Bird Person rescues you and your party. So, in order to grind, you just have to battle for as long as possible, and then let the chips fall where they may.

If you try to just keep pushing forward, you'll quickly run low on supplies. But at least it reinforces that all you're really doing by paying out is just possibly speeding up progress.

If you're not familiar with the Pokemon games and have just become aware of them mostly through cultural osmosis instead of actually playing the game, my recommendation is to go and actually play one of them. That's because Pocket Mortys is ultimately just a distillation of Pokemon down to a condensed form. There are fewer Mortys than Pokemon (though this is probably a good thing), and simplifying things down to literal rock-paper-scissors means that there are limited strategies for how you can outfit your squad of Mortys versus having a more complex arrangement of elements. The game is necessarily limited due to the smaller scale, and I think that Pocket Mortys is best enjoyed through the prism of it being something that you're aware of how it works, rather than it being your first experience with the Pokemon genre.

Still, Pocket Mortys manages to do a great job at being a Pokemon-style game on mobile. Skewing close to its inspirations winds up making for a good game that's got plenty of fun.

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