Why am I still making this fish jump?
Short answer, I’ve got no idea why I’m still playing Magikarp Jump, but I’m hooked. After my fifth ‘training session’, clicking my screen furiously to get Magikarp to jump more, and then eat more berries, I still wanted to train more, and beat all those other punk-ass fishes at a jumping contest. In a lot of ways, Magikarp Jump adheres to the formula of games like Neko Atsume and Flappy Bird (sorry for putting those in the same category). The game keeps things simple, introduces a collection element through various Magikarp coloration has a bright, friendly, color scheme, doesn’t hide any core gameplay behind a pay wall.
The gameplay of Magikarp Jump revolves entirely around catching a Magikarp, training it to level 20 through various games where you tap the screen repeatedly, and then catching another Magikarp (hopefully with a different scale pattern), and doing the same thing again. Throughout this process, the player can take their Magikarp to jumping contests (no gameplay involved here, just a cinematic based on your Magikarp’s Jumping Potential(JP)), and trying to best others in the Magikarp Jump League. This is broken up by various bits of hilarious fish-pun dialogue from NPCs around town, and that’s pretty much it.
So why is the game fun? A lot of what makes this mobile game great lies in the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From your first flops into the world of Magikarp Jump, the NPCs are giving you backstory on Pokemon’s ‘mostly useless’, Magikarp, and the very intense business of Magikarp jumping. The writing is surprisingly funny (if you’ve got a low bar for pun humor like I do), and makes Magikarp Jump fun to pick up for a few seconds on a break, and then toss away again. It’s a game meant to raise the players mood (and possibly get them to fork out a few bucks for diamonds), and doesn’t try to be anything else.
Speaking to the game’s microtransactions, they’re there in full force, but don’t feel intrusive. So far (1-2 hours of play), I haven’t hit a point where I felt like I needed to pay to keep enjoying things. There’s stamina that refills over time for training sessions, but I often felt that by the time I was out of energy, I was bored with the game, so it didn’t matter all that much.
Overall, is Magikarp Jump going to redefine the mobile genre? No, but it’s simple, easy to pick up for a few minutes, and for some reason that I still can’t pinpoint, it’s fun. The NPCs have some hilarious dialogue, and the process of raising a Magikarp to be the very best jumper is a unique direction for the series (please make this game canon, and reference it in the next Pokemon title).