If you’re a Rick and Morty fan then there’s a fairly decent chance you’ve already seen Adult Swim’s ads for their recently released Pocket Mortys (out now, free), but perhaps you might have been skeptical as to just how good — or even free — the app truly was. Honestly I can’t blame you for carrying such a heavy level of skepticism, we are — after all — talking about the same company whom managed to release the mobile-only Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (our review). Furthermore, this game is not only a tongue-in-cheek clone of Nintendo’s Pokémon — but is furthermore based on a licensed brand — and neither of those have historically been hopeful indicators for video games in general.
Thus the mere sight of Pocket Mortys — despite the commercial self-assuring you that it’s not actually Pay-to-Win — probably has some of you ready to shout “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub”, just like Rick Sanchez. Yet — despite the fact one couldn’t blame you for assuming such things — I’m here to assure you that Pocket Mortys actually is worth your time, possibly even if you’ve never before seen an episode of Rick and Morty. Then again, you might have already wisely deduced this review would be headed in a happy direction should you have noticed the lofty perfect-score proudly displayed atop this page.
Anyways, the entire adventure begins when Rick announces to Morty that he’s just completed a device for scanning and compiling data on Mortys from alternate dimensions (or a Pokédex for Mortys, if you will). At this moment a strange portal opens up in Rick’s lab, after which a completely different Rick — looking as though he just came from Team Rocket — shows up and begins fawning over Morty. This intruder initially begins wondering if this could possibly be the fabled “One True Morty”, but the situation quickly turns violent when he realizes this particular Morty has already been spoken for.
Clearly the only obvious way to resolve this is for the two Ricks to force their Mortys to engage each other in combat, at least until one of them passes out utterly unconscious. Naturally Morty doesn’t really approve of this idea, but Rick — not one to ever back down from an alternate-universe version of himself — quickly pushes Morty into the fray without much thought. After quickly kicking that intruder’s ass back into his portal, Rick decides — much to Morty’s contrary preferences — that they should run into the portal after him (after all, it’d furthermore be a great opportunity to test out his Morty Pokédex).
One thing quickly leads into another, and before you know it Rick has his Portal Gun taken from him by the interdimensional Council of Ricks for engaging in Morty Fighting without a proper license (but — let’s be honest — they’ve long been itching for a reason). Thus in order to get his Portal Gun back — a necessity if the two of them ever want to go home — Rick will need to defeat the entire council of Ricks, which means he’ll first need to collect a ton of badges from lesser Ricks across the multiverse. In order to do this Rick will first need to collect a vast army of powerful Mortys from the numerous dimensions, all while using the power of Mad Science to help out various hapless individuals.
You’ll then start off in the game’s hub-town (just outside the chamber belonging to the Council of Ricks), from here you can find any of the services that Rick might need in order to prove there’s no sport he can’t conquer (including bossing Mortys around). Players can spend Schmeckles to obtain health items and Morty Manipulator Chips (Pokéballs) over at Salesman Rick’s shop, or even get all of their Mortys patched up — free of charge, no less — over at Rick’s Healing Center. Finally, you can even enter a giant standing portal — which doesn’t require a Portal Gun — thus flinging your Rick to some randomly generated universe (which slowly become harder as you collect more badges).
When not in battle you’ll be able to walk Rick around using a virtual on-screen D-Pad on your left-hand side, and interact with people/objects via an on-screen button on the other end (that said, you’ll generally only meet friendly people when in the game’s hub area). When walking around anywhere other than the hub area, you’ll encounter both enemy trainers — because it wouldn’t really be a Pokémon tribute otherwise — as well as random untamed Mortys (meaning you won’t ever have to walk back and forth in the grass here). Although you’ll have to chase down the random Mortys, after which you’ll talk to them in order to commence a fight, the random alien trainers will charge right after Rick the moment they’ve noticed him (again as per classic Pokémon tradition).
Once in a fight — with either a random trainer, or a wild Morty — battles will go down largely the same way things have always been handled in Pokémon, meaning one turn-based round of combat at a time. During each round you’ll either be able to swap between which Morty you have upfront, use an item on any of your team’s five Mortys, or even have your active Morty use any of the four moves they currently know. Altercations will then continue like this until either all of the opposing Mortys have been defeated/captured, or until your own Morty team has been utterly defeated (at which point BirdPerson — heeding Rick’s cry of pain — will fly you over to the Healing Center).
Normally this would be the part where I begin discussing a Pokémon-inspired game’s complex elemental system, but Pocket Mortys has instead opted to keep things a bit more streamlined. All of your Mortys will be imbued with one of three mighty elements: Rock, Paper, or Scissors (and — if we’re entirely honest with each other — I don’t think I really need to explain how these work). The only exception to this rule is your default starting Morty, whom has no assigned element whatsoever (meaning that he’s never particularly weak against anything, with the tradeoff being he’s not strong against anything either).
One thing you might want to keep in mind is that only an attack actually listing an elemental icon will do elemental damage, so a more powerful attack — assuming it’s not displaying that Morty’s element — will sometimes end up dishing out less damage overall.
Winning battles against opposing trainers will generally yield the player with handfuls of Schmeckles, as well as sometimes also rewarding the player with random health items and/or crafting components. Defeating free-roaming Mortys — on the other hand — will always reward both Schmeckles alongside various items, but only if the player deliberately knocks them out (as opposed to capturing them). You can also earn Schmeckles at any time by electing to watch ads on Rick’s Interdimensional Cable Box, but earning them this way will generally pay out far slower than doing the actual battles.
Whenever you defeat a Morty, even if you ultimately lose the overall battle (which only costs you the potential Schmeckles and items you might have won), you’ll additionally be awarded valuable EXP. Much like the classical Pokémon games before it, only Mortys that spent at least one round on the field — even if the only thing they did that round was merely tag out — will be qualified to earn EXP after another Morty gets knocked out. Generally the bulk of earned EXP will go straight to whichever Morty did the final blow, and curiously the amount of EXP everyone then earns will be based exclusively on the relative level-difference between just the opponent and your final-blow giving Morty.
Thankfully — at least in my personal opinion — they’ve simplified one of Pokémon’s crazier aspects by not forcing players to worry about how their team is receiving this valuable EXP, seeing as how Pocket Mortys has no equivalent to an EV/IV System.
Anyways, in order to successfully leave a dimension — at least without having Bird Person drag you out (which has no big consequences, beyond your hurt pride) — you’ll need to track down and defeat that place’s Rick (whom isn’t a member of the Council of Ricks). Yet getting to them can be a bit tricky since: A) every trainer you’ll encounter along the way will want to do battle, B) your Mortys — even if still awake — can become too tired to use their attacks, and C) the dimension will be totally reshuffled if Bird Person saves you. Although you can get health items that fix many of these issues — and even purchase them from Salesman Rick while mid-stage — it would still be to your benefit to not plow through every single trainer, which will sometimes mean taking creative pathways.
Beyond merely taking on each randomly-generated area’s Rick — in order to save up enough badges so that the next council member will deign to fight you — you can additionally find crafting ingredients hidden about each stage, as well as supply crates. All you need to do in order to grab these is walk up to them and hit the button, but this is often easier said than done since you’ll usually need to fight your way through trainers just to reach them (although this step can sometimes be avoided if you’re clever). You can then take these crafting materials to one of the many available crafting tables in order to either make healing items, or to build things that aid those tasking Rick with quests.
Many of these crafting ingredients — plus the things you can make with them — should serve as quite a bit of reference-fuel for long-time fans of Rick and Morty, plus you’ll finally learn just what exactly Turbulent Juice is used for. For instance: if a Robot-Rick should find himself desperately in need of power, perhaps you’ll craft for him an extremely potent Microverse Battery (which is just like slavery, except with extra steps). The perk of doing these quests — rather than using the parts to make health items — is that quests often pay you in Mega Seeds, which have the power to instantly move one of your Mortys up an entire level (and possibly also disable their motor control for 72 hours).
I do want to make it clear that pretty much all expendable-items will eventually become available in Salesman Rick’s shop, at least once you’ve first earned enough Lesser-Rick badges. For the most part this won’t really hurt players seeing as how they won’t even need 200 HP Serums right off the bat, but there is one particular item — which isn’t available at first — that some players might see as malicious. Although I’ll cover the game’s primary monetization scheme soon enough, I’m here to assure you that the Morty Manipulator Chips — which show up after your third badge — aren’t part of any evil plans.
Beyond merely use these chips for the game’s obvious goal of “catching them all”, one unique element of Pocket Mortys is that you’ll actually be far more interested in grabbing duplicate Mortys over ones you don’t yet have. That’s because, save for a few very special cases, the only means of evolving a Morty is by fusing two identical specimens over at Morty Day Care (which is where Rick stores all Mortys not on his current roster). For instance: combining two Scruffy Mortys will yield an Unkempt Morty, whereas mixing together two Unkempt Mortys will produce a mighty Hobo Morty (and the resultant fusion will furthermore always have a higher level than either Morty involved).
The only other way to get a specific Morty — beyond capturing them, and afterwards fusing them — would be to turn in prize tickets at your nearest “Blips and Chitz” kiosk. Turning in one of these coupons will net you a pile of Schmeckles, a bunch of crafting parts, at least one really-rare item (such as a Meeseeks Box capable of instantly winning any fight), and finally a Morty already evolved to his highest form (all at the same time). The downside is that these coupons are generally only won by fighting elite Council of Rick members, as well as sometimes very rarely found within supply crates, meaning that your chief method of earning these will be via IAPs (but they are extremely cheap).
While this might initially seem like Adult Swim Games is trying to twist your arm — especially hyper-early on before Salesman Rick begins offering Morty Manipulator Chips — these coupons are far from necessary, especially since Bird Person is always free.
Anyways — game play matters finally aside — I’m pleased to report that Pocket Mortys not only looks good, with a visual-style deliberately imitating the 2D/3D hybrid appearance of all DS-based Pokémon games, but the app also sounds great as well. Although the entire experience isn’t fully voiced, Rick and his Mortys will often shout back and forth at each other during fights (and Rick is also quite chatty as you walk about dimensions). The game furthermore features 8-Bit and/or instrumental renditions of various famous songs from the TV series, such as: “Do You Feel It?”, “Get Schwifty”, “Goodbye Moonmen”, “Head Bent Over”, and “Let Me Out”.
In conclusion — although Rick and Morty fans will definitely appreciate all of the little references — the fact that Pocket Mortys is such a superb Pokémon clone means that all monster training fans might want to quickly check this one out, especially since it’s free. Although the year is still admittedly rather new, I think it’s only fair to point out that Pocket Mortys has already established itself on the short-list of games I will eventually consider when I determine the top-ten releases of 2016. Fact is journalists rarely stick around with games once they’ve finished their reviews (there simply isn’t enough time for everything), but this is one game I plan to keep with until every last Rick is toppled!
Finally — although not necessarily pertaining to the game play itself — I am quite happy to report that Adult Swim Games pulled out all the stops when they optimized this release, meaning that Pocket Mortys is super stable whenever it’s played with an iPod Touch 5. Not only will the game not crash at random, but the app can furthermore survive going to sleep without crashing either (an accomplishment I haven’t seen successfully pulled off in quite some time). Admittedly the game will crash if you try to open up the Safari Browser while you’re paused, but that matters little since auto-saving means you’ll generally never lose even an inch of progress (except for mid-match fighting progress).
Honestly, my only minor gripe is that Pocket Mortys currently features absolutely no online match-up capabilities (but — then again — I guess the app would probably end up being a lot less free if Adult Swim Games needed to worry about server upkeep costs).
Adult Swim Games’ Pocket Mortys is not only a fantastic use of the Rick and Morty brand, it’s additionally an utterly top-notch Pokémon clone all on its own (that is furthermore both free, plus not plagued with Pay-to-Win IAPs either). While fans will absolutely fawn over the vast wealth of references sure to please those who’ve seen the hit TV series, Pocket Mortys’ rock-solid Pokémon inspired game play is positively assured to please anyone that’s a fan of monster-training simulators. About the only gripe I could levy against this amazing product is that there’s no means for players to battle their various Mortys against each other online (although I’m guessing that server upkeep costs would just end up making the game a lot less free).