Pocket Mortys is a Pokemon clone for mobile platforms based on the hilarious, inappropriate, and hilariously inappropriate Adult Swim show Rick and Morty. Heading into its 3rd season, the show features the exploits of the smartest man and biggest drunk in the universe, Rick Sanchez, and his painfully normal grandson Morty, as they use Rick's portal gun to hop worlds and dimensions as they please.
If you've watched the show (and you should), then you know the basic premise; delinquent parent, grandfather, and science super-genius Rick Sanchez returns to his estranged daughter and moves in with her family. He immediately picks average, dull, youngest-child Morty to be his right hand man on crazy and terrifying adventures across dimensions with the help of his portal gun. Sure, it could be a cozy family comedy, but no such luck. Rick is a narcissistic alcoholic, and Morty is a passive horn-dog high schooler who plays the eternal straight man. It's pure genius, and a lot more than the sum of its parts.
In Pocket Mortys, Rick and Morty are attacked by an alternate-dimension Rick with a team of Mortys, who flees into a portal upon defeat. Our Rick and Morty make to pursue, and end up at the headquarters of the Council of Ricks, an inter-dimensional coalition of Ricks who don't get along with, uh . . . Rick.
They take your portal gun, and you can only get it back by defeating them all in Morty-to-Morty combat, forcing you to scour dimensions for bigger and badder Mortys with which to fight. Everyone from Morty's family, to his teachers, to inter-dimensional assassins, make appearances, and no more than thirty seconds pass by without a show reference flitting across your screen.
That said, there's room for more Rick quips, and they skirt the edge of family friendliness a little too much (though be sure that there is subversion aplenty.)
Exploration & Combat
First thing you'll notice while booting up the quick-loading Pocket Mortys app is how it instantly feels like Pokemon. No, not the new 3D whizz-bang ones, but the old ones (especially the GBA classics). Top-down JRPG exploration, complete with chibi-forms of famed Rick and Morty characters, is half the game, while the other half is turn-based combat initiated by approaching fellow Morty trainers.
The battle system is classic Pokemon, with each Morty being a rock-type, a paper-type, or a scissors-type. Rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, and scissors beats paper; the only exception is your original-universe Morty, which is free of types, and can be beefed up to act as your primary slugger.
Combat starts with the player and opponent choosing an action in secret, and invisible initiative stats (which can be boosted or nerfed with skills) determine which Morty acts first. You can attack or use various skills (which can be traded between Mortys at a shop in the hub world), or you can choose to switch out to a different Morty. Doing the latter when you are up against a conscious enemy Morty means you'll likely get hit, but you can do so without penalty if the enemy Morty is also being switched out, or unconscious.
Paying close attention to the rock/paper/scissors combat is a strategic necessity, particularly in boss battles against Rick Council Members, and in the Morty arena, where three-round story segments are played out for ownership of a unique Mortys unavailable anywhere else in the game.
Leveling Up & Crafting
As in Pokemon, defeating enemies without being KO'ed during the match will grant your Mortys' experience points. Leveling up through experience points boosts the Mortys' stats, and you can also fuse Mortys of the same type to create ultra-powerful new Mortys that are much rarer to encounter in the wild.
There's a crafting system in the game, also, and a cute in-game Twitter push to have players share screen shots of the recipes they discover with the #PocketMortys hashtag. Recipes are found by mixing ingredients in three component slots at crafting stations that are liberally scattered throughout the game worlds. Things to build include healing potions, permanent stat boosting items, and show-related collectibles. Crafting is essential in order to clear out entire levels, which scale in difficulty with your Mortys' levels, and also to complete some NPC fetch quests.
The name of the micro-transaction game these days is to say that everything can be won by playing the game, and spending real-world currency will only speed up unlocks that can be garnered through normal play. The problem comes in when you try to define "normal play," as I don't intend to spend 1,000 hours on my phone during the lifespan of a mobile game. First, my Samsung S7 would ignite due to the sheer heat it gives off, and second, I have console and PC games to get back to.
But there's a lot to unlock in Pocket Mortys, and Big Pixel Studios really means it when they say everything can be won with hard work. Want your Rick to dress like a budget extra from Mad Max? Play on, friend! Want that special but weak Level 1 Morty to duke it out with the big boys? Grind, grind, grind! If, however, you have money (or a parent's linked credit card), you can indeed play through Pocket Mortys with a bit of extra pizzazz, skipping the grinding in favor of direct purchase options.
The best news, though, is that there's plenty that requires gameplay to unlock, and can't just be bought outright. That's what makes Pocket Mortys so much fun–you're always getting something new, and nothing can't be fused, buffed, or tweaked.
While multiplayer isn't present as of this writing, Big Pixel Studios began a closed beta for multiplayer gameplay in May, 2017. The addition of robust PvP features, and even player-created content, would make this game a real contender for best mobile game of year, given the countless additional hours of play such changes could add.
graphics and sound
The graphics are pleasing and quite close to the show's minimum-effort, hand-drawn aesthetic. There are a few NPC's that could've been more creatively designed, and plenty more show-source material they could've been pulled from, but none of that breaks the vibe or fun atmosphere of the game. The combat attacks are not flashy, consisting of a handful of animated effects and a lot of sprite-shaking.
The Morty and Rick designs stand out, however, especially the Mortys, who range in gender, race, species, and size. Finding a new Morty is always worth it, be it Crazy Cat Morty, Cap'n Morty, or Morty of the Valley.
The music consists of nice chiptune-renditions of classic Rick and Morty show songs, such as the always excellent "Get Shwifty." Hearing them made us yearn for a full make-under album of all the show's tunes–throw that sucker on vinyl, and we'd cry for joy!
|+ It's Rick and Morty, beeaaatch!||– Needs more show humor in the dialogue|
|+ Fun, early-Pokemon inspired gameplay||– Could use even more NPC designs from the show|
|+ Plenty of content without spending a dime|
|+ Lots of cameos and show references|
|+ Multiplayer is on the way!|