Magikarp Jump Review: Do one thing and do it well


Magikarp Jump has come out. Have you played it yet? If you haven’t, here are some spoilers to help you decide if you want to.

You might need Magikarp Jump. We all know our day breaks down like this:

Sleep is good. Traffic court is great. Stuff you don’t want to do is my favorite.

But what is there to do in the meantime? What to do with all else? Read books? I don’t know how to read. What about washing, drying, dressing, and acting out plays with your favorite plush toys? My green screen is all wrinkled. Or maybe you can go out into the world and interact with your friends and family? I thought that was traffic court.

Credit: Matt Rutkowski

In absence of any other good idea, Magikarp Jump might be something fun to do. That’s what I thought, anyway. Was it? Was it, Matt? Yes. It was. There. I spoiled the review for you.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

Go on. Touch it. Touch the screen.

That’s what this game is, basically. Screen touching with cute animation and the taunting idea of early retirement. You are not a fish. Magikarp is a fish. Fish get pensions after half an hour of work. It’s not fair.

The gameplay is not hard to pick up. In fact, it took me about 15 minutes to realize I was playing a game and not an interactive comic. You just kind of touch the part of the app that most wants you to touch it, and before you know it you’re collecting JP (Joy Power), coins, and diamonds. Those things are good, and you’re getting them, so that’s nice.

As the game plays itself, you learn that you want your Magikarp to jump high. Your job as a Magikarp trainer from a woe begotten town is to make your Magikarp fly as high as the sky.

There are three ways to do this: eating berries, training, and random chance events. The berry eating is a matter of looking at the submerged fruit on your screen and then touching it. Believe it or not, that’s the most interactive method. Random chance events are the opposite of not random. Training seems like something you can guide, but it isn’t. It seems like tapping real fast would help, but it doesn’t. You just kind of watch a Dwebble nap in one place and then nap some more a couple inches away. Then your Magikarp jumps higher. You do this a lot.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

Relax, Rest, Recharge

There are little clocky countdowns that determine when you can train again. Also, over time, more berries will fill up your fishbowl/lagoon/sink/thing. You touch your screen a bit. Then you do it again.

Once you can’t do it anymore, you stop for a bit.

After that, you do it some more. Maybe something comes up, and you have to stop.

Don’t worry, when you get back you can do it more. After that maybe you should take a little break.

When the break is done, if you can believe it, that screen could use a bit more touching. Maybe this time you can try using your non-dominant hand or your nose. Mix it up a bit. No one has to know.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

One fish, two fish, they fish, you fish

The point of all this touching is to get to the point where you touch your screen competitively. Your JP’s (Jam Plasma) are skyrocketing, and your Magikarp is getting fidgety. Your town depends on your Magikarp (which you presumably named Chet) jumping higher than some other jerks Magikarp.

If it does, then yay! You win. Someone might come out and tell you you’re their hero. You’ll get some EXP too.

If it doesn’t, then also yay kinda! Someone might come out and tell you not to give up. Who are you to defy that small child? Are you some kind of monster?

Go touch that screen again like a good person would. We all wear masks sometimes.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

A man, a plan, a canal, Magikarp

If you’re looking for a bit more than that, I don’t blame you. If you’re looking for more than a bit more, I can’t help you. There is a bit of strategy that comes into play, and that’s in how you dispense the coins and diamonds you’ve been absent-mindedly getting.

You can pop some decorations into your moat. You can also upgrade your berries or training to get you more JP’s (Justin Pumice). If you get up to level 25 on any of them, you get a nice jump in JP (Jingle Pringles). I recommend that. I also recommend the Exeggutor decoration because eggpalm is the best. You need him in your fish life.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

Microtransactions? More like microtransac-funs!

Or maybe not really at all. There are microtransactions to get more diamonds and coins and the like if you so care for it. They can make it so you can tap the screen a bit less in the early stages so you can tap the screen with bigger numbers on it more quickly. That’s your call, really.

It’s not necessary, though. The diamonds can get you boosts, but after about a day of playing, there are so many boosts randomly active that the numbers they give you become pretty unrecognizable. Are you doing well? Hard to say. Could you be doing better? Probably. Is it necessary to pay money to get there? You do you.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

Is it fun?

If the answer to that question is no, then that’s the strongest indictment one can offer. Luckily, that’s not the answer. The game is fun, but only if you like tapping the screen a lot.

It doesn’t appear to eat battery as bad as Pokemon GO, so that’s a plus. You don’t get the walk with it, though, so there’s no workout unless you can count rapid finger tapping. Some do.

I’d say it’s about on the same level as Find Mii on the 3DS. It’s insubstantial, and not something you can play hours straight (because it won’t let you), but in short bursts, it’s a pleasure.

Credit: The Pokemon Company

I have some other random thoughts.

  1. We need Magikarp training sports science. At some point, nameless trainer should be able to figure out that knocking down a tree is better training than punching a soft bag.
  2. There’s something seedy beneath surface in all these Pokemon games. There are rare candies in regular games, support candies in this game, level-upping candies in Pokemon GO. My guess is that there is some knockoff Willy Wonka wannabe poisoning animals to fight each other within a communal hallucination, and that’s not cool.
  3. Mayor Karp loves rubbing fish. That’s not explored in detail, and it shouldn’t be.
  4. It’s good to know that Magikarp flapping outside the water in every game ever wasn’t actually killing it. Magikarp has lungs and gills. That’s fantastic.

That’s about it. If you have any questions or comments, just keep tapping the screen. Eventually, they’ll be answered, or you’ll stop caring.