The animated television show Rick and Morty is a jumbled, mixed up mess of a show that goes from exploring a theme park inside a dead man to questioning what it means to love by way of a parasitic Borg-like alien from one episode to the next. So, take that, mix in a little Pokémon, and you’ve got the recently released Pocket Mortys.
More specifically, Pocket Mortys is a video game for iOS and Android designed by U.K.-based Big Pixel Studios for Adult Swim. For whatever reason, training and battling Mortys — Rick's grandson and erstwhile sidekick — has become a popular pastime across the multiverse, and the show's main Rick and Morty get mixed up in this spectacle thanks to a Rick that lands in the garage via portal and demands a battle. Here’s how the game describes itself:
Join Ricks throughout the multiverse as they get swept up in the latest craze: Morty training! There are over 70 bizarre Mortys to recruit and train out there, including Mustache Morty, Wizard Morty, Cronenberg Morty and more. Assemble a dream team, then challenge rival Ricks by forcing your grandsons to battle each other. Command, combine and level up your Mortys to prove that you're the greatest Morty trainer of all space and time!
And here’s the thing: this concept alone is likely enough of a draw that Adult Swim could have put out a licensed game that wasn’t very good, but would have been considered successful overall. Just work something up that’s playable, and call it a day. The fact that Pocket Mortys is instead a game that both spoofs Pokémon in all the right ways while calling back to everything that makes Rick and Morty charming is an absolute delight.
But beyond that, what’s most impressive about the game is that both the ads and in-app purchases (IAPs) never feel required or intrusive. In fact, it’s not hard to play through several different worlds before realizing that both even exist in the free-to-play game. It took even longer to notice the ads.
See, little Blips & Chitz vending machines dot the landscape. They’re not required, but they do take coupons. Each coupon deposited dispenses a little ball full of goodies, including a new Morty that’s added to your arsenal. Those coupons? You can buy more of them with real money.
The in-game currency isn’t terribly hard to come by, but if you press the little plus sign next to it when in the shop it brings up a new screen where, essentially, players can watch short ads for “shmeckels.” There’s no real need to do this, unless players like to play incredibly safe, but it’s there for anyone that wants to participate.
It’s fair to say that Pocket Mortys won me over from the moment I started playing. There’s a particularly moving sequence in the Rick and Morty episode “Auto Erotic Assimilation” — yes, really — from the show’s second season that’s underscored by the song "Do You Feel It?" by the band Chaos Chaos. And, 'lo and behold, the very first melody that the Pocket Mortys soundtrack offers up is a chiptune version of "Do You Feel It?" specifically arranged for the video game.
In short, Pocket Mortys is the kind of licensed, free-to-play game that exceeds expectations while setting the bar awfully high for anything of the sort that follows. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be over here listening to the game’s soundtrack again.