Okay, it’s really not a secret: I love Pokémon. A lot. Ever since I was kid, I’ve loved it, and even though my dad seems to hope I’ll grow out of it, I think the franchise is going to own my soul and my wallet for the rest of time.
Of course, that means when Pokémon Quest was announced a couple weeks ago, it didn’t take me long to start playing it. It’s so cute and cubey and colorful!
Seriously, look at that cute little logo. I love it so much. And hey, it’s Thursday, my official day for not-book things, so I guess it’s the perfect time to talk about it!
Pokémon Quest isn’t a traditional Pokémon game by any means. Yes, you still aim to fill a Pokédex, but there’s no catching Pokémon or training them or any of that. It’s all set on a little place called Tumblecube Island, where you take on the role of an explorer looking for treasure. Along the way, you make buddies with the local Pokémon by tempting them with your cooking, and in teams of three, you gradually clear the island’s dangers.
The mechanics are relatively simple in this game since it’s meant to function as an easy way to get into the franchise. You choose three Pokémon for each expedition, and you can give them items called Power Stones to increase their HP and Attack, allowing them to succeed in battle more easily. Expeditions are automatic, too. You can turn off auto to choose what attacks are used and when, as well as to make use of the Scatter button, but if you’re playing casual, you can just select a level to explore and turn your team loose! Along the way, you can find new Power Stones to improve your team, and you can also find cooking ingredients that will help you make new recipes and coax new Pokémon into being your buddy.
I didn’t initially expect to love this game because it’s on the casual side of the spectrum, and I’ve loved the franchise so long that I’m well past being a casual player. But somehow, it’s still managed to make me really happy, and I think that’s thanks to the battery system. Like many mobile games, you get five expeditions (lives, essentially), and for every half hour that elapses in real time, whether you’re playing or not, the battery system recharges enough to allow you to go on one expedition. If you want to play for hours on end, this isn’t the system for you, but if you like a little twenty minute break in between things, it’s absolutely perfect! I can go on my five expeditions, then set it back down and go back to whatever needs to be done without getting too absorbed in the game.
I also love the cooking mechanic! It is chance based, so it’s going to take a long time to collect all 150 Pokémon available in the game, but it’s a very cute and benevolent way to encourage Pokémon to join your team. Plus, as you upgrade your cooking pots, you can cook larger meals and attract Pokémon with higher levels and better moves to help in your exploration efforts.
Really, there are only a couple downsides to this game. The first is that the decoration option is very limited: you can only place decorations in preapproved spots rather than freely dropping them on the base camp map. The second is that the camera in expeditions sometimes tries to follow one Pokémon in one direction, and one in another, and you end up staring at an empty portion of the map with your team fighting at the fringes because there’s no way to manually readjust the camera or focus your team into fighting in one spot.
Other than that, though, everything about this game has been a joy. Best of all, it’s also free to play, though there are DLC packs that total up to $30 if you buy the bundle for all three, and they offer completely exclusive content. I’m honestly considering buying it next time I have a little money to spare.
If you’re looking to play Pokémon Quest, it’s already available on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s supposed to be available by the end of June for Apple and Android devices.
And if you’re ever looking to talk Pokémon? I’m here. I’m all ears. And possibly many words about how much I love Pokémon.