Pokemon Quest Review
Pokemon Go Review (Nintendo Switch & iOS)
by Dylan Blight
Welcome to Tumblecube Island! This strange new land is the setting for Pokémon Quest, a rambunctious action RPG for Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. Pokémon Quest is created by GAME FREAK inc., the original developer of the beloved Pokémon RPG titles.
Announced during a conference held by The Pokémon Company on May 30th, Pokémon Quest was released later the same day on the Nintendo Switch and in late June on mobile devices. The two versions cannot share save data or transfer or any sort, which is highly unfortunate.
Pokémon Quest has a unique art-style for the franchise as you travel to Tumblecube Island. If you didn’t guess it -- everything is in a cube style, with the go-to comparison, of course, being Minecraft. It’s cute for the most part, particularly on some of the smaller Pokémon that look adorable as little cube blocks.
In Pokémon Quest your character travels to Tumblecube Island to-- look, I have no idea. Whatever thin story exists in Quest is solely to have you put together a team of Pokémon and clear out the levels, eventually reaching the final boss who's held up on a mysterious small island at the end of the story. Who’s this mysterious villain?! Well, Quest only features the 151 Pokemon from the original Kanto region, so take a wild guess and you're most likely correct.
For each mission you can take a team of three Pokémon, each of those Pokémon can have up to two attack moves and be equipped with special stones to add more health, attack power, shorter move cool-downs and more. Your team will navigate themselves automatically and auto-attack the closest enemy Pokémon. If you turn on the ‘auto mode’ your Pokémon will also use any of their attacks themselves. If you play with auto-mode off it will be up to you to click on-screen to use your moves and attacks with each attack having a different time to recharge. For the most part, and especially in the early levels of the game, you will be able to just turn on auto mode and come back in several minutes to a ‘successful mission’ screen. Late game, however, it can be a different story, especially on some of the boss levels. Solely because your Pokemon won’t be smart enough to use the right moves at the correct times. If you have a powerful attack with an 8-10 second recharge time you don’t want to waste it on wiping out a Pokémon just one auto attack away from death, for instance, and would be better off saving it for the boss that is about to show up.
When playing in auto mode the difference between mobile and Switch is nothing. However, when you need to be clicking the attack buttons for your Pokémon you will be better off playing on mobile simply for the ease of play that having your phone in your hand will offer compared to a Switch, especially in docked mode where you have to use an on-screen cursor. I’d suggest mobile overall as the best place to play for this reason alone.
Pokémon Quest does use a turn based system which does limit how long you can play at a time. Your battery when you start the game will have a max of four charges allowing you to go on four missions before having to wait thirty minutes for another recharge. The system is a love it or hate it affair, but Quest doesn’t ask you for money to recharge your battery. You can spend in-game currency you earn every twenty-four hours and from in-game milestones on recharging it, but you can’t rack up real-life dollars on simply wanting to play the game.
The max you need to spend on Pokémon Quest is $45 AUD which will grab you all the extras you will need and its nice that the game doesn’t allow you to just chuck money at it for extra recharges or easier ways to get stronger Pokémon. Although each of the three packages you can buy comes with a small bonus of in-game currrency, it's once off and you can't rebuy them for extra, even if you wanted to. If you think you’ll end up buying the extras, you’re better off doing it earlier as it’ll make your experience more fun and less of a grind. I didn’t buy them til the last level and the game was a huge grind at points.
How you get new Pokémon in Quest is through cooking special dishes in your home base. Different variations of ingredients you pick up through quests will attract different types of Pokémon. This system is very convoluted however, and the game doesn't do anything to teach you how to attract the Pokémon you may be after. You will be searching the internet for guides, you may even end up keeping a list of all the dishes on your phone like I do. What makes it hard is once you do get a certain dishes ingredients correct and you learn, let's say how to attract bug Pokémon, it doesn't let you remember the recipe for quick use later. You have to remember the exact combination of ten different ingredients.
Any extra Pokémon you attract you can use in two ways. You can train a Pokémon you want to be higher level by sacrificing other Pokémon to it as fodder. You can also sacrifice Pokémon to change a Pokémon's move but it will change to a random one, meaning yes, you can get a worse move. If you end up trying to teach any of the go-to most powerful moves in the game -- like Alakazam and Psychic -- it can become a pain as you sacrifice Pokémon after Pokémon to the RNG gods.
Once you complete the main story, your quest -- as is mine of the time of writing -- will be to complete your Pokédex. Of course, you gotta catch em’ all. To do this will require a grind, a lot of RNG and patience. You can grind random high-level caves for ingredients and the higher levels will contain ingredients to attract legendary Pokémon to your camp -- those being the likes of Mewtwo, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres and Mew. To reach those higher levels you will need a good team but the game doesn’t allow much variation in what makes a good team. At the moment certain Pokémon and moves will carry your team, which if you choose to follow will make the game rather boring and not open to experimentation. Me personally: shiny dream team and I don't care if I'm sacrificing power for style points.
Pokémon Quest longevity will rely on how much you want to either complete your Pokédex or toss to the RNG gods for attempts at shiny Pokémon. There is no real need to metagame the move-list and team competitions outside the ease of being able to auto mode the highest levels with no PVP mode present. Quest is cute fun though, and clearing batteries in the morning with breakfast or while watching TV can quickly become daily routine. But if you’re like me the hunt for a complete Pokédex and the excitement of even the worst shiny Pokémon provides enough fun to keep Pokémon Quest around for sometime.
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), iOS (reviewed) Android