All cards on the table, I’ve been bored with gaming over the past decade. Having gamed hardcore on every console, handheld, and computer (even my TI-82 graphing calculator) since the mid 1980’s, I found as I got older I could no longer spend as much time, money, and resources on gaming.
Reviewing video games (especially the steaming pile of freemium garbage that existed on Android prior to the platform’s current Renaissance, which began when Dead Trigger launched an FPS rush that brought CoD and Halo console players and the PC master race to Android in flocks.
On top of this, Nvidia’s innovative Shield series of Android gaming consoles is gaining traction as we transition to virtual reality in 2016. One of the reasons I’m most excited for VR is because a Rick and Morty VR game is already in the works.
One can only hope it’s a fraction as immersive as the Roy arcade game at Blips and Chitz.
Confessions of a Rick and Morty Fan
I’ve been an auxiliary fan of R&M co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for years. Both Adventure Time (and Adult Swim/Cartoon Network in general) and Community have been longtime favorites of mine (though one longer than the other).
So, last year when the second season was finally approaching, I took the time to create a Rick and Morty Season 1 recap and episode guide.
When season two came along, press screeners of the first two episodes were leaked early on The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites, so I downloaded them about a month prior to the premiere and watched them over and over.
Realizing the show had at least 6 seasons of brilliance in it, I documented the leak and capitalized on the leak and prepared my review the same way the professionals at IGN, AV/Club and other mainstream online media outlets do.
Then I tracked each episode as it came out and posted recaps and a guide to Rick and Morty Season 2.
In doing so, my website scooped your favorite gaming, nerd, cartoon, and entertainment site on what’s one of the biggest cartoon hits to be released since South Park.
And when I noticed Pocket Mortys release from Adult Swim on Android, I knew it was the perfect game for the new Nvidia Shield tablet I picked up at CES.
A Quick Rundown for the Noobs
Originally based on Back to the Future’s Doc and Marty, Rick and Morty is a hilarious spoof of the concept that began with a video short called “Doc and Mahrti.”
Roiland and Harmon tweaked the show and the first season introduced the Smith family: husband Jerry, wife Beth, daughter Summer, and son Morty. Beth’s father, Rick Sanchez, is a mad scientist living with them with a garage workshop and secret (but not-so-secret) lab under the house.
Throughout the show, Rick drags Morty (and eventually Summer and a mixture of the rest of the Smith family) through a series of intergalactic, interdimensional, sci-fi fueled adventures. Rick and Morty episodes are typically divided into two concurrent storylines featuring different members of the family.
Expanding the base concept of time travel to travelling through infinite realms of possibilities, Rick and Morty have even crossed over into the Simpsons.
So as I familiarized myself with the Pocket Mortys Android game, I did so as a die-hard fan tired of seeing his favorite character licenses being slapped onto shoddy, glitchy, and often unplayable garbage.
Anyone familiar with Pokemon or Animal Crossing will immediately recognize the gameplay, controls, and feel of Pocket Mortys. Instead of Ash, you control Rick, who’s traversing different dimensions in search of different Mortys to fight against other Morty masters, including many of our favorite multi-dimensional Ricks from the Council of Ricks (a spoof of Marvel’s Council of Reeds).
The simple and intuitive on-screen touch controls mimic a controller, so I didn’t even need the Shield controller and was able to play off the touchscreen.
I was impressed by the level of detail that went into adding all the little touches for Rick and Morty fans (remember Doofus Rick or those unintelligble alien Olympics from Interdimensional Cable 2?). Many of the worlds were recognizable from the cartoon series and it’s clear Adult Swim was going for fan service.
Like Pokemon, each Morty has distinct strengths and weaknesses, most of which can be deduced simply by looking at what type of Morty they are.
Stripping the rock/paper/scissors formula and class system commonly found in RPG’s and deck-building card games, each Morty in Pocket Mortys is labeled with either a rock, paper, or scissors (except, of course for your Pikachu Morty who’s simply called “Morty” and is balanced).
Up to 4 Mortys can be in your party at any given moment, and I quickly learned party management has some real depth.
Mixing and matching the right Mortys took a little effort, despite the obvious balance system in place. I found it difficult to complete the final boss on a few stages at first, and had to grind to level my Mortys and really dig in to start progressing through the game.
Once I got the hang of it, however, I was soon battling my Mortys like an expert, collecting badges, and fighting my way through the council of Ricks.
Though a basic RPG with a cartoony feel, Pocket Mortys easily stands with the Final Fantasy series and other hardcore RPG’s.
A Ricktastic Role
Rick is easily the most complex cartoon character on TV right now, and giving fans the opportunity to control Rick on his alcohol-fueled adventures is the perfect way to keep us occupied as we wait with bated breath for season 3 and the VR game.
Far from a quick, casual adventure, tracking your Morty collection (there are 82 Mortys at release, and more may be released in future updates), and discovering crafting recipes is an adventure in itself.
Fusing Mr. Meeseeks boxes, fleebs, circuit boards, and cables, you can create fan favorites like the interdimensional goggles, IQ-enhancing helmet, Roy VR headset, and butter robot:
Though there’s no microverse or teenyverse yet, one can only hope these will pop up one day, along with the giant head, Water T, and the rest of the zany R&M cast of auxiliary characters.
Previous Rick and Morty mobile games and apps have failed to catch fire but Mr. Meeseeks is still a popular Dota 2 in-game Easter egg. With such clear attention to detail, Pocket Mortys is a game any fan of the series, Pokemon, or RPG’s in general will fall in love with.
Bells, Whistles, and Alien Clones
Despite my love for the game, it’s not without its flaws. For one, I appreciated the times I heard recognizable music (the theme song is prominent in menu screens, the Council of Ricks, and several dimensional stages), but much of the soundtrack fell flat.
While many of the Mortys were hilarious and clever (Test X1 Morty and Ad Space Morty still make me smile), some were simply Morty in a new shirt, and it felt like they may have run out of ideas.
Original character voiceovers are used, and Ash’s encouraging shouts to Pikachu (and his subsequent responses of “Pika”) are replaced by Rick sarcastically egging Morty on while Morty complains about the inhumanity of finding himself on the wrong end of this twisted cockfighting ring.
Whenever your Mortys are all dazed, Rick blacks out, and wakes up to see Birdperson reviving him and bringing him back to the hospital to recover and continue his fight against the Ricks.
I had been losing my passion for gaming in general, and especially Android gaming, but Pocket Mortys helped kickstart that spark I had when I was younger.
Instead of dreading the chore of having to review another barely playable game, I picked up a title featuring characters I’m passionate about. Although I expected another disappointing Farmville or Command and Conquer-style clone, I was pleasantly surprised to find a game with console-level depth and playability.
Rick and Morty made its way into my heart years ago, and Pocket Mortys rekindled my relationship with the pursuit of hardcore gaming.
Kudos, Adult Swim, for reminding me why I drag myself out of bed every morning to deal with this Rickdiculous world.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Hardcore Droid, High Times, Fast Company, Lifehack, and Huffington Post.