Very few games can emulate the Pokemon formula without feeling like a cheap knockoff that only exists to make a quick buck. Thankfully, the free to play Pocket Mortys is a great take on the Pokemon formula.
Pocket Mortys takes place in the Rick and Morty universe where you play as a Rick who has a Morty who must battle other aliens and other Ricks who have their own Mortys. Lost? I was too, and if you aren't a fan of the show, you will be woefully confused. Basically, in Rick and Morty (the show) Rick has a portal gun that lets him travel to different dimensions with his grandson, Morty. However, in all these dimensions, there are Ricks who also have their own Mortys. Eventually, all these Ricks got together and formed a council of Ricks to make sure the Ricks throughout the different dimensions were under control and had a central hub for them all to go to. To make things even more weird, the Rick you play as in Pocket Mortys isn't the same Rick from Rick and Morty.
So, after getting over the shock that you are collecting a bunch of kids named Morty to do battle against other versions of yourself, how does the actual gameplay hold up? Pocket Morty is a very simple affair. You go to different dimensions, capture wild Mortys to create a team, train them and eventually become strong enough to battle that dimension's Rick. Each of the 82 Mortys has their own type of either rock, paper or scissors. For some reason, this made me laugh out loud as the developers didn't even bother to make up something creative like fire, water, or grass. Nope, just good ol' rock paper scissors. However, like all simplistic free to play games, the fun can end as quick as it began thanks to paying to win.
During my initial time with the game, I was worried that essential items like the chips used to collect Mortys were locked behind a paywall. Fortunately, they can eventually be bought with in-game money, which Pocket Mortys is very generous in handing out. While the game is loaded with kiosks to purchase booster packs for real world money, you never feel at a disadvantage because you didn't buy the boosters, and the only advertisements in the game are optional. This is a rarity in free-to-play games, and the lack of pay-to-win allowed me to overlook the overly simplistic battle system, which at times did feel a little boring. Outside of battling, you can combine your Mortys into one evolved Morty and can combine your items into stronger items using the game's many recipes. The only missed opportunity is the lack of multiplayer battles. The main idea of Pokemon is to catch the titular creatures and battle and trade with your friends. So unless you're a completionist or just really love Rick and Morty, it's doubtful you'll make it to the end before succumbing to the boring battle system.
I was ready to launch Pocket Mortys into a new dimension filled with nothing but bad games, but it instead belongs on a pedestal as an example for how to do free-to-play games right. Pocket Mortys is good enough in its own right to have been a full priced mobile device game, but it being free is just an added bonus. It has a simplistic battle system that is perfect for short bursts of play, a bunch of Mortys to collect and doesn't shove paid content at you. While some may find the battle system lacking, Pocket Mortys might be the best alternative to Pokemon that mobile devices have available.