Rick and Morty is one of the best new shows of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block in recent memory. The show has really taken off, so of course, Adult Swm wants to capitalize on that. So Big Pixel Studios and Adult Swim Games have just dropped a new game based on the hit series for mobile devices in Pocket Mortys. Essentially, Big Pixel Studios has taken the basic mechanics of the Pokemon games and re-skinned the style of the handheld Pokemon games with Rick and Morty characters. Rick and Morty is a free-to-play “freemium” game, and it’s available at the App Store and Google Play. At first glance, the idea of a Rick and Morty meets Pokemon sounds a little interesting. It’s a bizarre combination. In a way, it fits the insane, post-modern style of the animated series, which routinely satires and mashes various genres together. Unfortunately the results for Pocket Mortys are less than stellar.
In Pocket Mortys, the neurotic teenager Morty and his foul-mouthed, alcohol-fueled grandfather, Rick Sanchez, have been lost in the Multiverse.Or rather, they are stuck in the dimension that is lorded over by the Council of Ricks. Their is a way for them to get home. Rick Sanchez has to play the Mortys game and collect various Mortys across the Multiverse. Rick has to collect enough Mortys and build up their strength in order to put them into battle against other Mortys in the various dimensions of the Multiverse. However, Rick and Morty are not just facing their alternate versions. Other aliens want to play the Mortys game too. In each alternate dimension, there is a boss Rick who Rick and Morty must beat. Each of these boss Ricks have a badge. When Rick has enough badges, he can challenge one of the Council of Rick members, who have a much stronger arsenal of Mortys. In other words, Rick and Morty have their work cut out for each other.
So there are two basic gameplay types here. For the exploration around the alternate dimension levels, the game has a top-down view similar to classic RPGS or The Legend of Zelda. Players control the movement of Rick and Morty using a directional D-pad that is placed on the touch screen of an iOS device. When Rick and Mort come across a disgruntled trainer, or you cross a trainer’s path, Rick and Morty are forced to engage in a Morty battle. This is where the Pokemon element comes in. The battles are staged like Pokemon battles from the handheld Pokemon games. The combat of the battles is turn-based. There are various Mortys that can be obtained over the course of the game. These Mortys can be leveled up as they win more battles. In addition, there is the option to combine double Mortys. If Rick and Morty locate a “Wild Morty” across the Multiverse, they can battle the Wild Morty and tame him using a manipulator chip. However, Manipulator chips have to be purchased.
Pocket Mortys does have some interesting gameplay depth similar to other RPGs of the genre. There is quite a bit of exploration across the different Multiverse maps. In addition, the game has additional crafting elements. Elements and random items that Rick and Morty pick up during their adventures can be crafted into different, more useful items. There are even some amusing Blitz & Chips style mini-games. In addition, Pocket Mortys has some fun references to the show, but it’s clearly been toned down to be an all-ages game. Rick and Morty can get quite edgy and violent with its content, however Pocket Mortys has basically been bleached to become appropriate for all ages. Thankfully, players still get some trademark Rick and Morty flavor here, with franchise co-creator Justin Roiland once again providing the voice of the Rick and Morty characters. Rick Sanchez even has some fun meta references to the fact that he and Morty are in their own game.
The problem? This is a “freemium” game. So the game really wants you to spend money to get more in-game power-ups to further player progression. In order to challenge the Council of Rick trainers, players really have to beat every other random Morty trainer you come across. However, this becomes exceedingly difficult because those battles drain HP quickly. HP can be regained using serums, but serums cost schmeckels, Pocket Morty’s in-game currency. Resources drain very quickly. Now if the Mortys run out of health, Birdperson swoops in and takes you back to a health recharge center. This puts you back at square one. You have to completely start whatever level you were last at over again.
The other nagging issue is that the dimension the warp portal sends Rick and Morty to is completely random. There is only one main portal warp in the Council of Ricks dimension. So if Rick and Morty are sent back from one dimension after losing a fight, they cannot return to that last dimension to try and retrace their steps and pick up any hidden items that might have been missed. The portal just sends Rick and Morty to another random dimension. There should definitely have been a more specific route for the exploration of the different multiverse dimensions.
The Morty battles wear thin very quickly. There are a bunch of different alternate Mortys that can be collected in the game. What is tedious is that the animations and attacks all look the same. So there is a Ghost Morty who fights Old Man Morty. All these alternate Mortys have different attack names, but all the attacks look exactly the same. This is a free-to-play mobile game, but some variety for the attack animations would have been nice.
The success in the battles is based off the specific type of Morty. Besides the basic Morty, the Mortys are divided into three types: Rock Mortys; Paper Mortys; and Scissor Mortys. Get it? Like Rock, Paper, Scissors. In other words, players will want to match the Mortys up for a battle similar to the rules of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Otherwise, if your Scissor-type Morty is against a Rock-type Morty, even if the Scissor-type Morty is at a higher level, the Scissor-type Morty has a good chance of becoming toast. The joke at how the developers divided the Mortys into different types is sort of amusing, but it loses its appeal very quickly. It becomes frustrating when a certain Morty type is not available or is dazed, and there are no more health items left.
Pocket Mortys as a game experience leaves a lot to be desired. The game really comes off like something that would more or less become a joke or gag for the series. It is more like something Rick and Morty would incessantly poke at while watching inter-dimensional cable instead of actually wanting to take part in. However, if you enjoy freemium mobile games, the irreverent style of Rick and Morty, this might be worth your time.