I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
I’ve seen Magikarp eaten alive by Pigeotto.
I’ve seen Magikarp blown to pieces by Voltorb.
I’ve seen Magikarp mutate into twisted blue monsters.
And now I’ve seen my time with Magikarp Jump come to an end.
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Weirdly, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ve legitimately gotten somewhat hooked on Magikarp Jump, the new Pokémon Company mobile game that debuted just over a week ago. I’ve been playing it every day, more than Pokémon GO, because it’s something you can pick up and fiddle with every hour or so, and feel like you’re making “progress” in a game with almost no gameplay.
Unlike many mobile games, there is actually something of an “end” to Magikarp Jump, which is part of the reason why I kept going. I usually end up deleting games like Clicker Heroes or Clash of Clans with no real end in sight, but as I made my way through the leagues of Magikarp Jump, I was moving swiftly and it seemed like I was actually going to make it to the final league and find out what was on the other side.
To recap, I have spent zero dollars on this game, even as someone who throws down cash for microtranasctions left and right without thinking about it. There’s simply no reason to do so here, as with or without spending money, you make significant progress in Magikarp Jump just by playing regularly, able to go through a half dozen “generations” of Karp a day just by checking in a few times and making sure you’re feeding or leveling your Karp. Even the game’s “premium” items, the things you buy with diamonds/real world cash, can be earned just by playing. I’ve already bought the two most expensive buddy Pokémon in the game, Charizard and Snorlax, without spending a cent, as the game does supply you with enough natural diamonds on its own.
So, what’s waiting at the end of Magikarp Jump? Was the constant management of 50 generations of Magikarp worthy of the conclusion? Not exactly, though you may have expected that from such a goofy game.
For most of my time with Magikarp Jump, I imagined that I knew what waited at the finale. That I’d beat the last boss, and “What? Magikarp is evolving!” and be rewarded with a Gyarados after so many hours of dealing with Karp. But while you can get a Gyarados in Magikarp Jump, he’s not saved for the ending, nor is it actually a good thing to evolve one. Gyarados shows up in Magikarp Jump like an Easter egg. You tap on your Karp repeatedly until an item you have called an “Everstone” breaks, which keeps your Karp from evolving. Then, once you level up your Karp, it will evolve into a Gyarados and be ineligible for the Magikarp Jump competition. Mayor Karp will simply take it off your hands and you’ll have to start over. Evolving a Gyarados is literally as bad as having a Pidgeotto eat your Magikarp or a Voltorb blow one away.
The actual “rewards” for beating the final 20 stage Luxury League are access to an admittedly cool “dark” pond theme (called a “dank theme,” which can’t be an accident). You get access to two new color variants of Karp, purple and grey, which so far have produced spotted and diamond patterns. And you get Bulbasaur as a buddy who gives you a free League Play restore after a loss every few hours, which is not a very useful ability.
The game informs you that the next league, the “Heal League,” is not ready yet, and your Karp training power maxes out at a 600% bonus with a note that it may be raised in future updates. You can still keep playing, leveling up your food and training with coins, saving diamonds for new buddies and decorations, and playing in a seemingly never-ending series of “Expert Leagues” that seem to be placeholders until new content is released for the game.
What’s to come in Magikarp Jump? I don’t know. Super Mario Run practically never updated a damn thing after release, while Fire Emblem Heroes has new updates all the time. Magikarp Jump seems to be directly telling players there’s more to come, but there’s no word on exactly what that means yet, or if it will simply be raising caps and not much else.
Magikarp Jump, as expected, has been a very strange game. It certainly was a good entry in the time-waster genre, as I have been somewhat slavishly devoted to it this past week or so. Yet the structure is such where you can feel comfortable spending literally nothing on it because you just don’t need to. Good for players, but I have no idea what kind of moneymaker this will be for The Pokémon Company or Nintendo.
So yeah, I made it to the end of this game so you don’t have to. This has been something.