Pocket Mortys delivers a lengthy story and elements both new and nostalgic but still hits the typical boundaries of a mobile game.
A mobile game stemming from the cartoon Rick and Morty on Adult Swim, Pocket Mortys combines the TV show’s universe with the capture-and-train gameplay of the Pokemon series, replacing the trainers and Pokemon with Ricks and Mortys, respectively. The game makes no attempts to hide its inspiration either, as the title is a clear nod to the Japanese title Pocket Monsters, the original title for Pokemon.
While Pocket Mortys does what many games have done before by building off the Pokemon model, it takes an approach unseen in many would-be imitators: it presents itself as unashamedly and utterly ridiculous. And that’s not something that’s hard to do considering the creativity and freedom instilled in Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s parent TV show, in which the main characters often find themselves traveling to distant planets and strange dimensions in the pursuit of both selfish and do-gooder intentions. If players are unfamiliar with the TV show, it is highly recommended that they watch a few episodes before playing, to get a feel for the characters and their motives.
The sociopathic scientist, Rick, when confronted by a Rick from another dimension, is forced to use his grandson, Morty, to fight the parallel Rick’s own Stray Cat Morty, one of the many Morty variations. After defeating their adversaries, our heroes pursue them into a new dimension where the grandfather-grandson duo find themselves battling other trainers and Mortys. Things get complicated when Rick’s portal gun, their ticket home, is confiscated by the Council of Ricks, and the only way to retrieve it is to earn enough trainer badges to challenge the Council in a Morty vs. Morty showdown.
The collectible Mortys come in all shapes, sizes, ailments and dispositions. Biker Morty, Skinless Morty, Wizard Morty and the coveted One True Morty are just a few of the whopping 82 variations that can be captured and evolved throughout the games’ lengthy story. And the game is quite long, as players will soon find out, with several badges being required to fight one Council member and a badge being attainable only after wading through a whole dimension’s trainers and boss. Of course, players can choose to skip the trainer battles and go straight to the boss, but doing so would rob them of the experience of finding new Mortys, not to mention resulting in their captured Mortys being severely under-leveled.
While the game delivers an enjoyable romp for fans of the show and Pokemon, it definitely has its drawbacks. Items can be purchased with the in-game currency, Shmeckles, but the flow of Shmeckles never seems to be enough. Players are pushed into deciding between purchasing healing items or the devices used to capturing Mortys, which usually results in either missing out on a dimension’s wild Mortys or having your Mortys wiped out before reaching the boss. Luckily—or to some, frustratingly—enough for players, Shmeckles can be purchased with real money. The trend of microtransactions and pay-to-win mobile games is far from unheard of, but it’s a shame to see such a delightfully unique series indulge in the vice.
It’s not a perfect game by any means, but in a genre where games are repetitive and short, Pocket Mortys is refreshing. It’s a game that gives a sense of progress and achievement instead of the typical “killing time” gimmick most mobile games employ. The next season of Rick and Morty doesn’t yet have a release date, but the enjoyment of capturing, training, battling and evolving Mortys will definitely buy creators Roiland and Harmond some time.