Pokemon Quest is a free-to-play, real-time action RPG in which players control a team of three Pokemon to battle through wave-based levels.
It is a light, fun, approachable diversion for Pokemon fans of all ages, with a generous reward system which allows it to remain completely playable without engaging in the microtransaction system.
Pokemon Quest is all about exploring Tumblecube Island. The player sailed there with a robotic companion, with a mind to discover the many fantastic items hidden there. After creating a Base Camp and befriending a wild Pokemon, the trainer sets off to explore the island, finding ancient artifacts and meeting all manner of Pokemon along the way.
GAMEPLAY & CONTROLS
Gameplay works differently in Pokemon Quest than in mainline Pokemon RPGs like Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but there are similarities.
Each area of Tumblecube Island is comprised of multiple expeditions; short, wave-based levels through which the trainer’s team of three Pokemon defeat groups of hostile Pokemon, gathering experience and random loot along the way.
The player’s Pokemon will automatically run from one real-time battle encounter to the next in expeditions, automatically attacking enemy Pokemon, but they won’t use special attacks unless the battle mode is set to automatic (which is not ideal), or the player selects the attacks themselves.
Players may use Joy-Con to control the action, but I found the touch controls much easier to use, as it allowed me to select special attacks more quickly than I could using the game’s cursor, or switching between Pokemon with the shoulder buttons.
The combined stats of a trainer’s team will determine their collective Power Level, which is a good way to figure out which expeditions you are ready for, but Power Level isn’t everything. Pokemon types also factor heavily into battle encounters, and certain expeditions even grant Power Level bonuses if you take a Pokemon of a particular type with you.
Even if your team has a higher than recommended Power Level, your Charmander will still get demolished if the boss is a Water type, which happened to me several times.
The free-to-play model is simple, and straightforward. Embarking on an expedition will cost one charge of your battery, which holds a total of 5 charges at the beginning of the game. Every 30 minutes, one charge is generated, and charges can be purchased using PM tickets, which the player can obtain from completing Quests and Challenges. Free PM tickets can also be obtained once a day from the Poke Mart.
Although battling happens constantly while on expeditions, that isn’t how you will obtain new Pokemon. To do that, players can dump ingredients they find on expeditions into the cooking pot in their Base Camp. After a certain number of expeditions, the dish will be completed, and, based on what ingredients were used, it will attract new Pokemon to the base camp, which will then join the player’s team.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
The Pokemon on Tumblecube Island are blocky and adorable, and although it sometimes took me a few seconds to figure out which Pokemon I was looking at, they still have a lot of character, and watching them scurry around in large-scale Pokemon battles is charming.
The overall aesthetic of Pokemon Quest is light and happy, like many Pokemon games, and it was hard not to smile while going on an expedition to a new area, or when seeing a favorite Pokemon for the first time.
The music is catchy, and I caught myself humming along with a particularly peppy tune not long after I began playing. On multiple occasions, I found myself dancing in my seat, listening to the Base Camp theme. Overall, Pokemon Quest is well polished, and it shows from the gameplay all the way down to the sound effects, which remain snappy and fun throughout the game.
Pokemon Quest is a light, fun diversion, and well worth any Pokemon fan’s time. It is one of the best free-to-play experiences I’ve had recently, and although there are definitely ways to spend money in the game, Pokemon Quest is generous enough with charges/play time to avoid the problems many free-to-play games fall victim to.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Nintendo
Developer – Nintendo
Release Date – May 29, 2018
Price – Free
Genre – Strategy, Adventure
Players – 1
Size – 221 MB
Brian Barnett has loved video games ever since his uncle Jimmy introduced him to them at the ripe old age of five. His wife, Audrey, was also introduced to video games by her uncle, lending credence to Brian’s theory that behind every gamer, there is a cool uncle.
Since playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Brian has had a passion for Nintendo games. The first thing he did when he started earning money was save up and buy himself a Game Boy, and they quickly became inseparable. Through the years, this led to his special love of portable game consoles, so the release of the Switch is the perfect storm of Nintendo action he has been waiting for.
In addition to his gaming obsession, Brian enjoys playing drums, writing and listening to music, and hosting a weekly video game and nerd culture podcast.
He is an extrovert, and loves talking about and playing games with others, so let him know if you want to team up and play together!
Plays: Switch, New 3DS, SNES, NES, GBA, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita