Developed by Adult Swim Games, Pocket Mortys is a Pokémon spoof: inviting players to battle Mortys for the sake of gaining badges, defeating the council of Ricks and—ultimately—retrieving Rick’s confiscated portal gun and going home.
Pocket Mortys is a game that draws on two universes (the Rick and Morty television show and the Pokémon video game): drastically coloring the gamer’s expectations. To me, a game like this thrives off context. How well does this game play off of Pokémon’s mechanics? And how well are the references interwoven with those mechanics? So let’s dive in:
The game play certainly mimics what original Pokémon fans are used to. There is an onscreen directional pad and an A button (allowing you to pick up items or read signs). You capture wild Mortys, battle trainers, then defeat the “gym leader” which in this case is one of the Ricks. As an avid Rick and Morty fan, I enjoyed the slight modifications: such as the Morty manipulator chip taking the place of Pokéballs. Receiving Schmeckles instead of money brought back memories of the specific episodes. Talking to people in the village who speak an alien language was a nice touch that spoke to the absurdity that is Rick and Morty. And I had some good chuckles along the way.
But the game fails when it strays from the source material without drawing on references from the show to justify the deviation. For instance, the fact that you can “make recipes” by combining things you find throughout your journey is a fun addition to the game—and is true to the television show source material. Other adjustments/additions are less successful. For instance, in an attempt to play on “Pokémon types,” Mortys also have a type. However, these types are lazily tacked on: rock, paper, and scissors. It seems this easily could’ve been something more connected to the show (perhaps planets or timelines the Mortys come from).
With literally hundreds of Mortys to collect it seems like a player can get a lot out of the game. However, I am disappointed in the inability to backtrack in the game. And the separation between the hub world and the dimensions the Ricks exist in makes the experience feel more limited. In Pokémon, I can do some hunting/training then immediately return to the Pokécenter for recovery. That’s not the case here. I was also hoping for some more interesting move sets and animations—once again—ones that had more connection to the show (rather than outburst, cry, etc).
And yet, I have a good time with this game. The graphics are charming and brightly colored and the show references go a long way in winning me over. Pocket Mortys is not without its flaws (neither is the original Pokémon—don’t let nostalgia fool you). But it’s a game I’m happy to have on my phone because it means geeking out with friends who watch the show and, ultimately, collecting all those Mortys. If you’re a big fan of the show and the Pokémon game, I do recommend checking it out. But when you take off your Rick and Morty obsession goggles the game is just okay. Unfortunately, the flaws that exist are the difference between me marathoning it and playing it more casually. And besides, I have real Pokémon to catch.