Pokémon Quest (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 03.06.2018 3

Review for Pokémon Quest on Nintendo Switch

The recent announcement of no less than three different pieces of Pokémon software coming to Nintendo Switch between now and the second half of 2019 - five, if you count alternative versions - has sent shockwaves around the gaming audience and industry as a whole. Pokémon is a de facto cash machine, even more so as the Pokémon GO popularity hasn't completely waned yet and it was already known that Pokémon would be coming to Switch eventually. That announcement still managed to cause a dramatic rise of Nintendo's share value at the stock market and the software at hand here, Pokémon Quest, recently made available as a free-to-play title on the Nintendo Switch eShop, has already managed to reach the symbolic one million downloads mark in a mere two days of availability. Time to check it out, then!

Announced at the same time as the Nintendo Switch version of Pokémon Quest is a smart device version coming later in the month of June 2018. It goes with reason, then, that, going in, one can expect an experience close to previous Pokémon games released for Nintendo 3DS and smart devices, such as Pokémon Shuffle, at least in terms of game flow. As expected, as it turns out, that is indeed exactly the case. Pokémon Quest offers the player the chance to follow Pokémon creatures on expeditions across Tumblecube Island, using a drone-like device that consumes energy units from a battery on each expedition.

Again, as expected, these energy units are limited in number and recharge over time... very slowly, so that the player can't get too much free play time out of the game without having to pay to keep playing to their heart's content, exactly like the concept of hearts in Pokémon Shuffle, although in the latter, a player may decide to spend as much time as they want on a puzzle, strategising, to make the most of their allotted free play time. The same isn't really possible here due to the automatic flow of expeditions, meaning that each can't last more than a few minutes at most.

People start out with a battery that can hold five units of energy, but the in-game currency allows for expanding that battery capacity to some extent to allow for more sessions at a time. This currency, PM Tickets, can either be purchased using real money or earned in small quantities by completing quests that act really like an achievement system more than anything else or, it seems, by logging in daily to the piece of software. Normally, one energy unit gets recharged every 30 minutes, which is in line with what is seen in a lot of other games of this type.

Screenshot for Pokémon Quest on Nintendo Switch

This is neither too great, nor so bad that one would not even want to pour any time into it. Energy units can also be purchased using PM tickets, though, of course, as this is what the publisher is hoping punters will do, but these are probably better invested early in other things that will make expeditions themselves go more smoothly. Those actually play by themselves with little in the way of input beyond timing Pokémon attacks right. Otherwise, an auto-play option can even be enabled where Pokémon, who already explore by themselves each area and battle Pokémon on their own, will also use their advanced techniques by themselves, so the player can just sit back and enjoy, making Pokémon Quest really more a contemplative experience than anything else, which in and of itself isn't altogether bad for a free-to-play release. Each expedition sees the party of three Pokémon battle waves of wild Pokémon of a select type, depending on the region of the island being explored, and ends with a battle against, usually, an evolved form of Pokémon already found within said region.

At the end of each of those expeditions, Pokémon will gain experience points and level up accordingly, possibly evolving in the process, just like in the mainline entries. Of course, Pokémon grow stronger in the process, but what really makes them stronger is the unlocking of power stone slots, and equipping said stones on them. Such stones are dropped at random during expeditions by defeated waves of Pokémon, as well as bosses. They come in different types, mighty or sturdy stones, which affect attack and HP, respectively, as well as in different levels of rarity.

Screenshot for Pokémon Quest on Nintendo Switch

Plain grey ones only do what their type determines but bronze or gold ones carry also additional effects on them, either one or three, respectively, like increasing movement speed, increasing critical hit damage or rate, and so on. This adds in an underlying layer of complexity to make the search for the best stones an engrossing quest indeed. Going on expeditions also fills up an "expedition bonus" meter, which once filled ensures a gold stone drop at the end of the next expedition, so it is not entirely random, either. Lastly, there is another type of stone apparently only obtained through clearing certain regions of the game that attach to the Pokémon's moves themselves. Those can help do such things like making the cool-down time for said move shorter. It's a relatively simple system for what is essentially a much simpler title than the mainline entries but Pokémon Shuffle also was, and there was loads of fun to be had there.

Pokémon themselves are not "caught" in the traditional sense of the term but are attracted to the camp site on the island by cooking ingredients found during expeditions, as well as through converting unwanted stones into them. Those go into a big cooking pot that takes a varying amount of time to finish cooking whichever recipe the player comes with. Said time, obviously, involves going on expedition, like four times for one recipe, or two for another, which in turn costs energy units, so again the "patience or pay-to-play" element inherent to these type of experiences comes into focus, as well, when it comes to enlarging the roster of available Pocket Monsters. The cooking pot is not all that the camp site is for, though, since placing decorations within the camp-site may help attract certain types of Pokémon, in particular.

Screenshot for Pokémon Quest on Nintendo Switch

More importantly, though, these may provide some perks that make other core elements of the experience a bit easier, but said decorations are expensive indeed, costing typically several hundreds of PM tickets so that buying any using only what the game hands out may take at least a week for each and that is only if the player keeps saving them. That is also without taking into account the DLC exclusive nature of some of these decorations. Indeed, some of them can only be purchased directly using real funds, not PM tickets, although they do come with free PM tickets as bonus.

It is not unheard of, obviously, not even in Pokémon spin-off realm. This was seen in Pokémon Shuffle but also, and even more prominently, in Pokémon Picross on 3DS. This was also expected here, so it is not a huge surprise. Pokémon Quest is a free game to play but a lot of features can only truly be enjoyed by paying and speedy progress must not be expected without it but, to the patient types out there willing to briefly login and play for a few minutes every day, it is totally possible to make steady progress over a long period of time. Unfortunately, not everyone will want to do that on their Switch, as some people will prefer to not carry it around at all times, playing in handheld mode only during more prolonged periods away from a TV and dock, and this type of experience is perhaps best enjoyed the way it was intended, in small bursts, on a device that lends itself better to very short bursts of play, a role that smartphones fill perhaps better than any other because people always have them in their pockets. With that being said, however, there is nothing inherently wrong with it being played on Switch as it does the job brilliantly and, unlike Pokémon Shuffle, Pokémon Quest does not require a constant Internet connection.

Screenshot for Pokémon Quest on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Like Pokémon Shuffle before it, Pokémon Quest proves to be a pleasant piece of gaming that is best enjoyed while doing something else, like watching TV or during short trips on public transport, due to the short nature of the experience and limited amount of free play time offered by the base software. Like Pokémon Shuffle, however, even if it is on a console that is handheld at core, it will be best enjoyed portably on a device that people are carrying on their person at all times, like a smartphone, with notifications warning the player that their free plays have recharged and the like, so it's probably best to wait for a smart device version before investing any money in there that may not transfer between different versions.

Developer

Game Freak

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I am a cheapskate, I wouldn't pay to play, i got up to world 5 or 6 pretty quickly and now I have got stuck as I keep dying on the boss. Perhaps this requires a bit of a grind but ultimately I will get to the point where I'll just get bored of playing it, I have sank around 4-5 hours into it at the moment, I find it fun as long as I am progressing. 

Also, I thought Shuffle could be played offline couldn't it? 

Our member of the week

Flynnie said:
Also, I thought Shuffle could be played offline couldn't it? 

I haven't played the 3DS version of Shuffle in a long time, i uninstalled it as soon as I got the mobile version simply because it feels so much better to play on Mobile, but on mobile anyway, you sure as hell can't play offline.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I see, I downloaded it on mobile but funnily enough I preferred the 3DS version haha. 

I haven't played Quest since I got stuck. I sort of just gave up!

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