App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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There have been quite a few mobile games to come along and do the Pokémon thing, but none of them (not even the ones featuring actual Pikachus and the like) feel like they have come as close to capturing the magic of this beloved series quite like Coromon. This game arguably more than simply inspired by Game Freak's mega-popular monster-collecting franchise, and it definitely falters in spots to provide a high quality Pokémon-like experience on mobile, but it is still very enjoyable and likely the best kind of this game on the App Store right now.
Pokémon proper, sort of
Nintendo has brought Pokémon to mobile in various forms, but none of them have been in the mold of the core games where you play as a Pokémon trainer and go on a grand adventure capturing and training up monsters for battles against other trainers. Coromon is very much this kind of game, though it obviously doesn't have the Pokémon license and therefore features its own cast of 120 different monsters set in its own unique world.
Outside of that, though, Coromon is genuinely pretty hard to distinguish from a classic Pokémon game. You choose a starting monster and get sent on a quest from your research lab, Lux Solis, to investigate powerful creatures known as Titans. Along the way, you'll discover more about the world, meet an interesting cast of characters, battle with fellow trainers, and walk through lots of tall grass to fight and capture your own lineup of monsters, each with their own special abilities and elemental strengths and weaknesses.
I have some strong nostalgia for Pokémon as the original games were watershed moments in my gaming career, but I have fallen away from the series because of its slow pacing and grind-heavy gameplay. For better or worse, Coromon is committed to this style of game design, though there are some novel aspects to the game that alleviate some of this slow feel. Side quests pop up here and there that give you things to do while you're trying to power level your monsters. That, and the fact that this game is easy to whip out and play on your phone anywhere, make what can be a bit of a slog feel much more manageable to play.
As a free-to-try game, Coromon cleverly disguises its grind behind a rather sizeable free starting act that flows at a pace I wish the rest of the game did. As soon as you pay the $4.99 to gain access to the full game, though, the immediate next area culminates in a boss fight you'll likely spend quite a bit of time leveling a crew of monsters to clear. Luckily, clearing bosses typically gives way to new areas and quests that resume a nice, steady pace, but then it is a matter of time until the game throws up another difficulty spike you have to grind to clear. It's probably worth noting here that Coromon has a lot of customizable difficulty options that can eliminate many (if not all) of these issues, so this is more an evaluation of the game's default difficulty tuning, which--again--feels a bit slow and grindy.
About as many bugs as bug-types
Although Coromon is very transparently just doing "Pokémon but not with actual Pokémon," I do appreciate how clear it is that Freedom Games is doing so from a place of love and reverence for the games it is imitating. The whole game looks great, is cleverly written, and has a lot of inspired and fun monster design. It also goes out of its way to include a lot of convenience features and settings to try and make it the ultimate mobile monster collecting game out there.
The only real problem with all of this is that Coromon is riddled with a bunch of bugs that put a damper on the whole experience. Several times during play, I've had error messages pop up that have crashed the game. There are also certain features advertised in the settings menu that--at least at the time of this writing--straight up don't work. I'm looking at you, cloud saves: This game would be a lot more enjoyable if I could pick up my progress on my tablet or phone interchangeably but this feature just simply doesn't function.
The bottom line
Despite its problems, Coromon seems to be the best classic Pokémon experience you can hope for on iOS right now. It is certainly far from perfect, but there's a lot of love and ambition behind this project that is plain to see, and this makes putting up with some of its rougher edges relatively easy to do.