Another day, another Pokemon spin-off game. I was mildly curious about the smartphone game Pokémon: Magikarp Jump just because the premise sounded so ridiculous: train up your Magikarp to take part in jumping competitions. I decided to give it a try for the heck of it. I was expecting it to be more of a set of mini-games or something, but it's actually more of a simulation game.
The two main ways you train up your Magikarp are by collecting berries in your pond just by touching them, or doing some training. The game selects one of your available training routines which vary in the amount of jumping power (i.e. experience) they'll grant your Magikarp, but outside of deciding to train you don't actually do anything active here (or anywhere else in the game for that matter other than the pond). Competitions are a likewise hands-off affair. You can also gain experience via special helper Pokemon that show up in your pond and via random events that trigger on the way back from training. You can power-up the amount of experience you earn from all of these methods by paying in-game coins (which can be bought with real-world money). You can also use virtual and real-world currency to add decorations to your pond and other fairly useless extras. As is par for the course paying real money in this game seems like a complete waste to me, and would only really be needed if you absolutely had to barrel through the whole. The game is much better in short bursts anyway, and you make much more progress from playing a few minutes every day for several days rather than playing for an extended period of time in one sitting.
Upgrading the rate you gain experience and the eating mechanics reminded me very strongly of Cookie Clicker. which was a humorously postmodern game that I'd played and enjoyed a few years back. It seems like that game (or some other game much like it) has spawned a bunch of imitators, without the meta humor. With the colorful and chibi-esque graphics and cute premise Magikarp Jump is a more palatable one than the others I've come across, although ultimately the game is still incredibly shallow. There's a limit to the maximum level each of the Magikarp you reel in can obtain, so you have to continuously retire old Magikarp and train up new ones. Every time you retire one the rate of training your Magikarp increases, and the game keeps track of the different patterns of Magikarp you've collected for added "gotta catch 'em all" obsessiveness.
This was definitely a quick and easy smartphone game that The Pokémon Company seems happy to churn out but that Nintendo themselves would never release themselves. It looks like the developers, Select Button Inc., have put out several other quite successful smartphone games that I'm assuming are in the same vein and are why they were hired to create Magikarp Jump. While this was cute and entertaining enough for a short time, I can't imagine wanting to actually play this for the 27-odd hours that would be needed to beat all the leagues. Not a complete waste of time, but definitely one of the more mindless games I've played in a while.