Magikarp Jump puts one of the most famous fishy Pokémon in the spotlight in what might just be one of the most series’ most bizarre games to date.
Pokémon has played host to a number of bizarre spin-offs in its time but few, if any, are quite as ludicrous as Magikarp Jump. And yes, that even includes Great Detective Pikachu.
In many ways it’s quite hard to describe Magikarp Jump. The game is part Tamagotchi, part Infinity Blade – but does neither convincingly. Even the elements borrowed from the mainline games are dumbed down the lowest common denominator.
You play as possibly the most generic character in existence – the main Pokémon characters aren’t exactly swimming with identity but in Magikarp Jump, your cap is pulled so far down your face that the game doesn’t even bother to establish your gender.
The aim of the game is to conquer eight leagues – however rather than battle a series of creatures, you must face each of your rivals and see whose Magikarp can jump the highest. There’s no skill involved – it is merely a case of facing competitors until your Magikarp can no longer jump the highest.
On the home page, you can increase your Magikarp‘s stats by feeding it food that appears spontaneously in your pond – hence the Tamagotchi comparisons. You can also train your Magikarp – but again this requires nothing other than choosing a randomly-generated exercise and watching your Magikarp flop around on the floor.
Once your Magikarp has maxed out its stats, the ‘generation’ ends and a new one begins. The game doesn’t shy away from the topic of death albeit in a slightly barbaric sense. Once your Magikarp has maxed out, it dies (having apparently fulfilled its sole purpose in life). Gone, but not forgotten, your ghostly ancestors continue to float around your pond to keep the next generation company.
Your Magikarp can also meet a slightly less peaceful maker – jump too high and a Pidgeotto will swoop in and catch it, presumably to feed its innards to a nest of young Pidgeys.
Your character catches higher level Magikarp by progressing through the league and levelling up – but just like Infinity Blade, you have to start from scratch again each generation.
The Pokémon Company has been guilty of lacklustre in the past (Trubbish, anyone?) but this game really is outrageously shallow. Sure, there are cameos from Pikachu and assorted oceanic Pokémon – and it’s nice to see Magikarp in a starring role. But the effort expended here is minimal.
From lazy character design and names (Mayor Karp?), nonsensical game design (Magikarp lives in water but trains and battles on land?) and almost completely passive gameplay, if you’re looking for a quick Pokémon fix, ignore Magikarp Jump. There are plenty more fish in the sea.