Magikarp and Chill: a review of Magikarp Jump
also available to read on Patreon
Magikarp Jump is a mobile game developed by Select Button.
It stars the titular Magikarp, which if you’re not familiar with Pokémon, is a useless fish that is far less useless and far more charming in this game than in other Pokémon games.
I’ve never cared for Magikarp more than when I played this game.
MJ’s feeding mechanic makes this more like the “pet simulator, but with Pokémon” game I’ve wanted since playing my first Pokémon game as an eight-year-old.
Think Insaniquarium, but with one fish at a time and without aliens invading your tank.
Magikarp Jump isn’t your typical Pokémon game.
Rather than battling your way through the game’s Pokémon League,
you’re instead jumping your way through the game’s multiple Leagues.
You fish up a Magikarp,
then feed and train it to raise its Jump Power.
Its training sessions are randomized between the tools you have available.
More training tools and food become available as you level up and then you use coins to buy them.
You can also buy decorations and Pokémon for your pond with diamonds.
Coins and diamonds are earned through a variety of in-game events and achievements.
If you’re desperate for coins, you can exchange diamonds for coins, but you can’t exchange coins for diamonds.
There are also support candies which level up your non-Magikarp Pokémon to boost their support abilities.
Pikachu, for example, will give a stronger boost to Jump Power when it’s leveled up.
Support candies are earned primarily through leveling up your food and training tools, although some can also be earned with League victories.
Magikarp Jump is free-to-play; however, the app does have microtransactions that cost real money.
One good thing is that MJ doesn’t put its microtransactions front and center.
Rather, they’re off to the side in a menu that you won’t be using super often.
These aren’t randomized microtransactions, but their existence is something to be aware of if in-app purchases are tempting to you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the app hates it when you close it and open it again.
The game will become full of black blocks.
This particular glitch doesn’t render the game impossible to play, but it’s far less enjoyable to play, especially with its art style being so thoroughly charming.
The solution on Chromebook seems to be to shut down the device and start it up again, although I don’t know if this also works on mobile devices.
MJ also isn’t fond of teaching you about itself.
It’ll teach you about the basics, but anything beyond that must be discovered on your own.
For example, I didn’t know that you could click on the trainer icon to see your League medals, currency totals, and experience points.
Because the art style doesn’t highlight or otherwise indicate what you can click on, it can be difficult to tell what you can interact with.
One last thing is the wait times.
You can feed your Magikarp readily enough;
I’ve often googled something, then returned to the app to find several berries that my Magikarp can gobble up.
However, there are significant wait times involved in training regimes, support skills, and League battles* *if you lose; winning a League battle or training your Magikarp to its maximum level restores your League play.
If those caveats don’t turn you off, here’s where the game shines.
First off, the art style.
Its 2D chibi sprites and backgrounds is something I’d welcome in future games… an Eevee Jump, perhaps?
Secondly, multiple magikarp to fish up.
Orca, Gold, Orange, Calico:
there’s lots of different colors and patterns of Magikarp to encounter.
You unlock better fishing rods with every other League completion.
Better rods allow you to fish up more new Magikarp, and so on and so forth.
In other Pokémon games, Magikarp only comes in its standard and shiny forms like most Pokémon.
However, with some Pokémon such as Spinda sporting several patterns, I’d welcome MJ’s additional variants of Magikarp in other Pokémon games.
The discoveries don’t stop at Magikarp either.
There are different events that can affect your Magikarp’s Jump Power, Training Points, and even give you more currency.
Be careful though, because some events can force your Magikarp to retire prematurely such as evolving your Magikarp into its normally much more useful form: Gyarados.
One thing I wish was included in the game is trainer customization.
Your League opponents are based on your trainer sprite and often sport hats and pants in additional colors.
The exclusion of trainer customization isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but it would’ve been nice to have access to those additional colors myself.
Magikarp Jump will appeal to gamers who want a casual Pokémon experience.
If you’re someone who wants to Magikarp and chill, Magikarp Jump may be your jam.
But if you prefer hardcore gameplay, you’ll be better served elsewhere.
10/28/19 Update: I stopped playing this game for a while, and when I came back, I was bored and frustrated by how long it took to train my Magikarp to max level.
Also, while I wasn't tempted by the game's microtransactions, others might be. You don't need them to progress, but you might want them to progress, as the game has a steep power curve later on.
I still think it has a cute art style; but with Sword and Shield out soon, I'd recommend saving for one of those games instead.