A common issue with mobile games from gaming franchises is that they end up basically being stripped down versions of their regular cousins. Think Sonic Dash or every mobile EA Sports game ever.
Magikarp Jump has such charm that for a while it seems that it might defy that stereotype. Ultimately, however, it remains exactly that: a throw-away mobile version of a proper game – all surface and no substance.
Much like every other Pokemon game Magikarp Jump involves levelling up your Pokemon and battling against others. It’s Magikarp only around here and the battles are to see how high each can jump – hence the name of the game. You fish for a new Magikarp, train it, feed it and then take it into battle. Eventually that one will retire and you’ll fish out another and go through the same process again.
So far so good. The training, battling and the ‘random encounters’ that pop up after each of these things are all light-hearted and goofy. The graphics are bright and simple. What the game does particularly well is not have any natural stopping points – there are always more battles or training sessions or even just food to eat, so it can be quite addictive.
Eventually though, the novelty wears off and the charm runs out and you realise that fairly early on the game has run out of ideas. Classic mobile game problem! Magikarp Jump’s issue is that it shows it’s hand too early. Just when the game should be going up to another level it becomes a grind of continually repeating screen presses. It moves from being a game you play to being something you tend to, like you would a plant on your window sill.
Whether it’s that Magikarp Jump shows you everything it has to offer straight away or whether it is simply that it doesn’t have enough to offer in the first place, it’s an experience that simply doesn’t last long enough to justify the level of enjoyment it brings. ‘Briefly amusing’ is not what good games are made of.