Pokémon Quest is Nintendo and The Pokémon Company’s latest spin-off release within the infamous creature-catching franchise. It’s also their latest endeavour into the ever-popular mobile game platform, with a mobile release supposedly planned for late June. Nintendo is no stranger to the mobile game market, having already released Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Super Mario Run, with FE Heroes being one I still play almost daily. Now Pokémon Quest is set to join the ranks and I have to say I’m enjoying it so far. Having played it almost every day since its initial Switch release on May 29th, it’s definitely becoming one of those games where I’ll start my day with it, retrieve my ‘log in bonuses’, and revisit it at least a couple of times in a day.
First things first, Pokémon Quest is a free download, meaning there are of course optional in-game purchases to put you ahead of the game, but none of it feels ‘pay to win’. In fact, in the two weeks I’ve been playing it for, I haven’t made a single purchase and yet the pace of progress has felt relatively smooth and rewarding. The main crux of the gameplay is watching your little team of three Pokémon go on an “Expedition” to battle wild Pokémon that spawn in waves.
It’s somewhat lacking in gameplay, especially when you switch on ‘Auto-Battle’ mode, wherein your Pokémon will not only approach wild Pokémon of their own volition but attack them as well, meaning you can just sit back, relax, and watch your team go to town. The other option is to simply tap the moves you want your Pokémon to use in battle, all of which use a cooldown system before they can be used again. Of course, your Pokémon have type bonuses when facing certain Pokémon who are vulnerable to a type you have on your team, like in any other Pokémon game. In Pokémon Quest, this type bonus can mean the difference between progressing to the next level or just being stuck trying to level up your current team if you haven’t befriended the right type yet.
So that’s Expeditions and Battling, but what would a Pokémon game be without the opportunity to catch ‘em all? You meet and ‘befriend’ new Pokémon by cooking meals to draw them into your little base where all your other befriended Pokémon live and interact with each other in cute little ways. You mix together ingredients you gather on your expeditions then it cooks while you go out on… more expeditions! Yes, it gets a little repetitive, but moving on to a new area of the map and discovering new Pokémon still gives me a good enough kick to warrant the effort.
You may, however, reach a point where trying to level up a Pokémon just to use its type bonus to pass a level becomes a little tedious. The option to auto-battle is a nice addition for the lazy player like me though, allowing you to gain EXP, ingredients to cook with, and other items to boost your team’s attack power and HP. Items such as Power Stones and Move Stones boost your Pokémon’s attack and HP stats which, much like the all-important type bonuses, can just tip the scale in your favour when it comes to beating that pesky end-of-level boss battle. Players can strategically assign Power and Move stones to their team via their Pokémon’s respective ‘Power Charms’, replacing older, weaker stones with the newer, more powerful ones you pick up on your expeditions.
You may find though, as you progress from level to level and wild Pokémon become ever stronger, you get more tempted to spend your hard-earned cash on stat-boosting decorations for your base camp or Move Stones to enhance your offense in the field. It’s all up to the individual player, but passing a particularly tough level just by grafting is surprisingly satisfying in Pokémon Quest.
Aside from gameplay, the vibrant palette, stylishly blocky graphics and simple menus make Pokémon Quest a genuinely cheery, easy-going experience every time you pick it up. It’s not an unfamiliar art style, but it’s one that unexpectedly lends itself to the instantly recognisable designs of Pokémon. It feels fresh. Pokémon Quest is a cute, pleasing little lead up to Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee releasing on Switch on November 16th this year. When looking at previous Nintendo mobile titles like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and FE Heroes, it’s hard to say whether Pokémon Quest will sink or swim when it comes to long term playability. But only time, and its upcoming mobile release, will tell. In the meantime, if you have a switch, definitely download Pokémon Quest for free and give it a go!