Nintendo has never made a smartphone game. It probably won't in the foreseeable future.
And yet Nintendo's influence on smartphone games is as strong - if not stronger - than any other developer.
Every cute speed-run platformer you play on your phone or tablet, every polished kart racer, every light-hearted action-RPG, every sprawling platform-adventure. They've all been directly influenced by a Nintendo property.
Micromon is perhaps the most blatant example of Nintendo appropriation yet, but it's a pretty accomplished effort for all that.Learning from the master
You don't need us to tell you which game Micromon copies. It's right there in the name.
Everything from the fantastical animal-collecting theme to the anime-influenced top-down RPG world and rock-paper-scissors combat has been lifted straight from Pokémon.
Of course, while plenty of mobile games have nabbed various Pokémon elements over the years, few if any have pinched them all at once and attempted to stitch together a faithful tribute to the playground favourite.
That's precisely what Micromon is, so you could look at it as being quite unique. If you squinted.Ash-en faced
As a young explorer beamed into a virtual world, it's up to you to travel from themed zone to themed zone, talking to villagers, collecting wild Poké... sorry, Micromon, and challenging master trainers in order to build a name for yourself.
Walk through some wild grass or talk to a fellow trainer and you'll be booted into a turn-based battle. Here you send out your roster of tamed creatures, one at a time, to bash their opposing number until they run out of hit points.
Once they're weak enough, you can even attempt to capture wild Micromon for your own expanding menagerie. Each creature is given a clear rarity rating, so you can afford to be selective about which creatures you nab.
Which is a good job, really, as this can be an extremely frustrating process. Of course, in Pokémon you were never guaranteed of capturing a rare creature, but then you never knew that you could purchase a better capturing system with real money.Gotta cash 'em all
Yes, Micromon subscribes to the same kind of IAP system as most other modern mobile games. And in fairness, its implementation is nowhere near as heavy handed here as it is elsewhere.
It appears that you can indeed play through the entire game without making additional payments, as the developer promised. But it will be trickier to capture the rarer Micromon, and you won't be able to play the Lucky egg game that essentially allows you to buy a rare Micromon outright.
Add in the presence of online multiplayer battles, and it leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth, regardless of its relatively light implementation.I choose you
It's a shame, because that aside this is a very well produced clone. The art style is top notch, with plenty of expressive creatures (130 to be precise) to look out for. No, they're not quite as distinctive as Nintendo's best, but you'll still find some gems in there.
The game also captures Pokémon's easygoing adventurous tone as you scoot across the world, exploring mysterious nooks and crannies.
There are a few too many mindless to-and-fro quests, and the tone of the writing veers from breezily spot-on to wince-inducingly amateurish.
But in the game's favour progress is quick and you can explore at your own pace, with the various trainers you meet giving a good indication of the kind of level you need to be aiming (or grinding) for with your crack team of beasties.
The ultimate sign that Micromon has got the basics right, though, is that I was enjoying it far more after three hours than I was after 30 minutes - a sure sign that I was growing attached to my virtual pets and the simple quest at hand.
Micromon, then, is largely successful at reaching a seemingly unambitious goal - to provide a decent Pokémon copy for mobile. Until Nintendo reaches the end of the line with its own portable platforms, any protests at this kind of accomplished copying will be half-hearted at best.