Monster encounters are better animated and detailed than you might be used to in Micromon. The world is bright and colourful, if a little busy.
As expected, six monsters at a time is the limit, but smart systems for swapping them out are in place.
Micromon on iPhone, iPod and iPad $1.29 Reviewed on: iPad Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10
When Pokemon made its debut almost two decades ago nobody minded the fact that you needed to lug a huge brick-like Game Boy around with you to enjoy monster-catching on the go.
Though the series remains a huge moneymaker for Nintendo, those of us spoiled by super-light smartphones and tablets may be less inclined to take a bulky handheld gaming device with us everywhere just to play.
While many attempts have been made to bring a Pokemon clone to mobile devices, Micromon is the first that succeeds by any measure, and despite a handful of very un-Nintendo hiccups (I’m looking at you, obligatory in-app purchases) it has a lot to offer fans of the genre who prefer to travel light.
Having been sucked into the digital world of Micromon, your avatar immediately meets a quirky professor and is given a vague mission to explore a large and varied world, taming as many of the 130 different Micromon as you can, and leading them into battle against other tamers for fun and profit. So far, so familiar.
But Micromon is just different and fresh enough to serve as a reminder of what Pokemon was like at the height of its charm — before decades of very similar games wore away the appeal.
Each new monster encounter — walking through long grass is still the way to trigger these — is an exciting discovery, and I found myself compelled to catch each new creature I came across.
While several of the designs are almost criminal in their similarity to famous Pokemon monsters, many are funny or cute or cool in their own right.
The world is fun to explore too, and much more expressively rendered than Pokemon’s play-it-safe Kanto or Johto regions.
Some of the characters you meet have a habit of rambling on a bit too long, but thankfully the story is engaging and the writing is frequently surprising in its humour.
But the ever-present lure of micro-transactions does hang over Micromon, giving access to rare monsters and advanced techniques to those willing to fork out extra cash.
You cannot buy anything you cannot also get with hard work (except aesthetic upgrades), but if you plan on playing competitively online be prepared to be beaten by players who have spent more money than you.
Tim is on Twitter: @weeklyrift
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