Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo & The Pokémon Company
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Strategy & Adventure
Release Date: May 29, 2o18 (NA) / May 30, 2o18 (EU & JP)
One island, 151 Pokémon to exploit and a treasure to discover. It’s the Pokémon Quest you never thought you’d go on!
Once upon a time, there was this month of May in the year 2018. Due to leaks and rumours concerning Pokémon for the Nintendo Switch, it was only natural that Nintendo gamers and Pokémon fans would become desperate for actual news they could count on, in the form of a reveal and surprise, surprise, we actually got more of a reveal than we bargained for. Instead of getting news pertaining to one Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch, we learned about five. Two of which will be out next year, in the second half that will be the next new entries in the core series and three that will be out this year. Only, unlike with Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!, we don’t have to wait to play Pokémon Quest!
Revealed first, during a Pokémon press event, Pokémon Quest is a free-to-play title, designed for two platforms, the Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. As nice as it would be to be excited about having a new Pokémon game on Switch that you can download for free and has surpassed 1 million downloads already, just because it is out on Switch, it doesn’t mean it is made for it. First and foremost, Pokémon Quest is a mobile game, in the sense that it looks like one, plays like one and feels like one.
Now, I’m not trying to be horrible from the off-set and put it Pokémon Quest down unnecessarily, but the Switch release doesn’t even support Video Capture or make much of an effort to make HD Rumble more responsive to Pokémon using moves and making sounds. Yet, despite the clear-cut made-for-mobile feeling it gives, Pokémon Quest won’t actually be available for smartphones until late June, meaning, it currently has a timed exclusivity on Switch.
So, because you can only currently play it on Switch, after a few days of diving right into it, it is time to share our thoughts on this cutesy new Pokémon instalment. With voxel graphics and gameplay mechanics very similar to those encountered in the Pokémon Rumble games, for all intents and purposes, Pokémon Quest, is the love child Minecraft and Pokémon Rumble gave life to while we were all busy obsessing over the eventual Pokémon Switch, since it was first teased in 2017 at E3.
Plot-wise and setting, Pokémon Quest takes place on Tumblecube Island, which is an apt name since all Pokémon who call it home, are cube-shaped by design and so is everything around them. As a newly discovered island, the aim of the game and protagonist, is to explore this new landmass, befriend Pokémon and claim its loot for yourself. Helping you to locate the treasure, is a MoBee IV, a drone manufactured by Silph Co. that can detect loot. Only, upon the drone’s arrival, it will break down, have to reset and start anew. It’s okay though, as MoBee IV will still recognise you and you’ll be given the chance to befriend one of five Pokémon, with three of them being the original Gen 1 starters and the other two being Pikachu and Eevee.
As for why you even need to befriend Pokémon in the first place, is because they will help you and MoBee IV with your exploration of Tumblecube Island and treasure seeking. So, with the Pokémon partners you can make, you can use a team of them (3 being the maximum number,) to set out on expeditions, where they will automatically advance toward enemies and attack them. But, should you tap their known move by pressing its icon, you can order your Pokémon to use that move, when you want it, but you will need to wait for it to recharge before using it again. Although, if you wish to have the Pokémon act entirely on their own accord, you can engage the auto battle and your Pokémon will use their moves as and when they want to.
By completing enemies and defeating waves of Pokémon, including a strong Pokémon at the end of each area, players can earn materials that can be used for cooking and Power Stones and trust me, Power Stones are the key to victory and so is levelling up. (Yep, that’s right! Levelling up is alive and well in Pokémon Quest. More on this later though.) With Power Stones, you can greatly improve the Attack and HP of your Pokémon and even speed up how soon they can use their known moves and expand the range of their attacks.
Each Pokémon can have up to nine slots to store Power Stones, but not all slots are available from the get-go, so you will need to use them by engaging in battles and gaining experience whether you win or lose. In the event you do lose, you can use PM Tickets to keep hold of the materials you’ll otherwise lose out on. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend wasting them for that, since PM Tickets can be used for refilling your energy bar, buying decorations that will boost stats and expansion packs that allow you to store more Pokémon and Power Stones. However, should expanding not be something that appeals to you, you can always recycle Power Stones you don’t want and get rid of unwanted Pokémon by using them for training Pokémon you want to keep, for more experience, or in the hopes of learning a new move.
Thankfully though, as a free-to-play title that does feature in-game purchases, Pokémon Quest can be quite lenient when it comes to the PM Tickets as 50 free PM Tickets can be collected via the Poké Mart’s Member Services, with more available via completing Main and Challenge Quests. But, if you’re not afraid to pay your way to get ahead of other players, if you’re willing to fork out $29.99, you can just buy the Expedition 3-Pack Bundle, which is a true game changer. From giving you a total of 300 PM Tickets, +3 Maximum battery charges, 3 new cooking pots, 4 Pokémon that all come at Lv. 1 with a special move, more daily PM Tickets and other bonuses, then you can save yourself some unnecessarily grinding.
There is nothing wrong with giving in and investing money if that’s something you want to do, but Pokémon Quest has been made in such a way that you can get everything, do everything and obtained all 151 available Kanto Pokémon, if you choose to play the long game. I will however, be honest and say that extra cooking pots aren’t the worst thing in the world though, since having 4 cooking all at once can and will help speed up how quickly you complete your Pokédex, provided you have all the right materials to cook all the right meals. Also, unlike other mobile games where you have to wait a certain amount of time for something to cook, with Pokémon Quest, duration depends on undergoing a certain amount of expeditions and with Shiny Pokémon being easier to collect, there certainly is an appeal of sorts, to cook & entice ‘em all.
Now, although Pokémon Quest can be something of a charming title that you need to give much attention to, as even assigning Power Stones can be done automatically, the game is not without some cons. Being a free-to-play title, unless you’re made of PM Tickets and money, you will be running out of energy a lot and having to wait for it to refill, to advance. You’ll also have to do without the DLC, which means you’ll be forced to do a whole lot of grinding, which can become tedious if you try to play Pokémon Quest in long sessions. There is a plus side to the grinding, as it can help you level up your Pokémon and get them to evolve, including all Pokémon that evolve by evolution stones and trading, as they now just have to reach a certain level. (For instance, Pikachu evolves at Lv. 22) But, even then, evolving can not justify having to level up each Pokémon on your team by 15 levels, just so you can try to take down the big bad boss that each of the game’s 12 areas has to offer.
Just because you can play Pokémon Quest on the Nintendo Switch, the fact of the matter is, it is a mobile game, designed for mobile devices. As tempting as it may be to be in it for the long haul and try to play it hours on end like you would with a core RPG Pokémon game, you just can’t do that with Quest. Not if you want to enjoy for months on end anyway. But, until the Pokémon: Let’s Go games drop in November, Pokémon Quest and Pokkén Tournament DX are the only playable Pokémon games on Switch at this time and with Quest being free to download, there is no reason not to download it and give it a try for yourself. Especially since Quest does have the possibility of being expanded in the future should more Pokémon be added to it.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
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This post was written by Solid Jack