Review – Coromon

Pokémon clones have been a dime a dozen through the years. Some turn out to be hidden gems in their own right, introducing ideas that allow them to stand out. Others, however, attempt to only cash in on the concept with no morsel of creativity put forth into the project. One thing is sure; however, the majority of these are found on the mobile market. App stores are bursting at the seams with an outrageous amount of copycats. Hell, Nexomon was on there before hitting the Nintendo Switch. Coromon aims to flip the script, releasing initially on a console before jumping over to cell phones. As a rabid fanboy of the pocket monster juggernaut, I’m excited to jump in. I’m coming into this review blind, knowing nothing but that I’m kidnapping creatures with disk-like devices. Fingers crossed that it manages to recount a robust narrative.

Coromon - About to leave for my journey!

Is this just a mom thing? Growing up, mine was always “don’t forget clean underwear!”

The overarching story for Coromon is relatively concise. It isn’t extensive, tackling the premise of a supernatural presence attempting to upheave the planet. There aren’t gyms to conquer or ambitions to be the very best. The facet where the similarities do begin is in the dialogue. Fluff still reigns supreme, with NPCs spewing out inconsequential drivel. Fortunately, it never includes a drawn-out tangent unless directly linked to the core plot. In general, the writing consists of a handful of brief quips, some witty, most not. It’s just as well, though, because if you’re proactive and a Chatty Cathy, there’s a chance to obtain an item or two randomly. It could also be a useful one, be it something that teaches an ability or healing berries. The in-game universe isn’t too dense, though, meaning conversing with everyone never turns into a slog.

If fear of monotony is at the forefront of your mind, banish the thought. There’s a surprising amount of personality. The exaggerated reactions to any event, whether dire or not, always brought a smile. The usage of emojis and punctuation draw a clear picture of the desired emotion hidden between the lines, be it unbridled panic or rousing excitement. Coromon may not be bleeding buckets of charm, but there’s a flesh wound that’s slowly dripping. Besides, I never groaned with annoyance as I spoke to every NPC. In fact, I happily did it, and that’s a huge win. Much like the fairytale of Goldilocks, the execution here is just right. Bad analogies aside, there is yet another critical purpose to being an extrovert – you may get a side-quest. All in all, the script isn’t going to blow minds, but it’s serviceable.

Coromon - Handicap match

3 on 1? Yeah, I’ve seen this exact situation before on the internet.

Coromon is ripe with options to customize your romp fully. For instance, slashing shop prices by 50%, which I highly suggest doing. I spent thousands because the bosses you periodically face as the adventure builds pack a serious wallop. Another perk restores both HP and SP entirely upon each level. I can only assume this is meant to try and alleviate the need to purchase supplies. The thing is, it doesn’t, mainly due to the previously mentioned power imbalance. If you are hungry for a challenge, buckle up – one alteration effectively adds perma-death. When a Coromon is defeated, it’s recognized as their demise. As a result, they’re immediately released. It’s quite the exciting wrinkle, but it’s also the epitome of frustration, thanks precisely to, again, imbalance. My recommendation is to forgo it. I did and saw my enjoyment factor grow as a result.

While we discuss allowing players to dictate how their session unfurls, I must mention a mechanic known as Potential. It’s another method of bolstering the stats of all your Coromon. It uses the same XP as leveling but functions under a unique numerical ceiling. Basically, it’s possible to jump from 20 to 23 before seeing one increase in that respect. When it occurs, it grants three points that can be distributed as you see fit. If, say, I want an absolute tank with bursting attack prowess, I can invest there. Perhaps I fancy upping my guard to special skills, though. If so, I’d concentrate on, well, special defence. It’s important to remember that these increases are additional to what’s already being given through grinding alone. It introduces a riveting bit of strategy to combat, too. I can manifest Coromon that better reflect my ideologies.

Coromon - Slotting points to realize potential

Unleash your potential. Unleash the Beast.

Yet another method of tweaking your pocket monsters is through their abilities. Unlike Pokémon, move tutors don’t exist, primarily because no technique is ever forgotten. Humorously, there’s a cheeky little jab about that notion that, admittedly, tickled me. See, with Coromon, I’m capable of swapping out my move-set and experimenting to find combinations that seamlessly marry each other. To do this, I’d hurry through menus until I’d reach the spot where I could either enable or disable whichever skill I prefer at the moment. The best part is I have unlimited access, whether I’m inside a laboratory or galavanting through a field. This mechanic is unlike anything I’ve seen, and I love it. My one complaint has to do with switching a trait. These are essentially passives, and doing so costs an exorbitant amount. It isn’t feasible since the money is best spent elsewhere.  

Years ago, Pokémon introduced experience sharing. After a battle, those not used still received an identical amount of points as those locked in combat. It’s a quality-of-life improvement that I applauded. It respects your time. I didn’t need to spend hours grinding each monster individually. Perhaps this is the controversial statement of the decade, but not having it in Coromon is a damn shame. What I don’t understand is why it’s not even implemented. Some orbs do precisely what I’ve outlined; only it’s done in a watered-down manner. Instead of awarding the whole shebang, it’s but a small percentage. It’s a negligible number. I couldn’t begin to fathom why TRAGsoft chose against committing to this gimmick. I know it’s divisive, but if it were thrown in as an option when customizing one’s session, it would play both sides.

Coromon - Switching out abilities

Notice that it says Disable. It’s because I’m not an Enabler…

Abilities aren’t limitless, and eventually, they become obsolete. In Pokémon, PP is the value that determines that, but in Coromon, it’s known as SP and functions differently. Each skill learned is assigned a value, be it three or five, and when used, subtracts from the total SP that a Coromon can harness – that of which can be boosted through Potential. It’s no longer plausible to overload one of your critter partners with only powerful strikes. It demands I balance modestly cost-efficient debuff spells with those that can unleash eradication for a higher rate. If I’m irresponsible with my finances, I must forfeit an entire turn in exchange for revitalizing SP. It consistently kept me on my toes and engaged in the action. 

Achievement Hunters, rejoice, as Coromon infuses a pseudo-system known as Milestones. It’s as the name suggests; whenever you finish a notable goal, it gives you XP that let you purchase goodies. The tasks that need completion aren’t complicated either, ranging from inflicting a concise bit of damage to capturing the equivalent of Shinies Potent variants. Before you ask, yes, they’re just as rare; only they’re a cakewalk to locate. The reason is the capability to snatch an opposing trainer’s Coromon from under them. Yup, that’s a custom rule, and I took full advantage. They seem always to have a smattering of these variations. It made finishing that specific goal on the Milestone list much, much more manageable. A minute detail I have to point out, as well, is that evolution can occur mid-battle. It’s not much, but it happening in real-time is a slight breath of immersion.

Coromon - Milestone cashing in.

I get rewarded for beating up on poor folks. Coromon, you naughty.

The visual fidelity is reminiscent of the GBA era of Pokémon, albeit with a modernized coat of paint. Colours are vibrant, popping off the screen and slapping me across the face. Despite a pixelated look, there was an effort put into detail. For instance, I was prompted to create a character from the very start. If you were to select a dress, there’s an attempt to nail down the female figure. I was also impressed with the Coromon designs on display. I came in blind and had low expectations. The bar was low, and yet, it was not only met but also surpassed. I was blown away. Hell, some look genuinely badass. There’s also an adorable tiger that melts me, and thankfully, when reaching its final evolution, devastation awaits. Performance-wise, there’s an instance of soft-locking. Since Coromon is, like moi, a compulsive auto-saver, though, I never lost progress. 

I’ll be forthright: the score has no right consisting of a couple of straight bangers. The battle theme is mint, especially with bass-boosted headphones. My head was bobbing back and forth as my foot was tapping away. There’s a great mixture of catchy and serene. I’m also impressed by tracks like the one that plays in shops. For a locale that you rarely spend time in, it’s shockingly good. Sure, it’s on loop because of where it is, but the quality of it could have easily had zero effort put into it. The same goes for the Poké Center equivalent – Trainer Hubs. Coromon was a game made with passion – the blood, sweat, and tears aided in creating extraordinary chiptune renditions. Sure, the OST might not inspire awe and intrigue, but it complements the journey to a tee, and for this genre, that’s the bare minimum.

Coromon - The baddies are kidnapping him!

It’s PRECISELY what they need. Man, what are the odds…

Coromon is a quaint journey full of fun, smiles, and kick-ass evolutionary forms. Nothing is offensive. The issues I noted can swiftly be addressed with a patch. In other words, it’s at the cusp of being a superb monster collector. The foundation is hard as a rock, with no signs of chipping – it’s time to build on it. If TRAGsoft implemented a method to share experience points, the appeal amongst adults would rise. There are a variety of others that softens the absence, though – for example, particular rooms in a dungeon act like checkpoints. The best aspect of Coromon, bar none, is the randomizer. It changes everything, jumbling up each facet of this chill adventure. Bluntly said, the replayability factor is crazy. 

Graphics: 8.0

With eye-popping colour and splendid looking pixel art, it does well to replicate the aesthetic of the Gameplay era of Pokémon

Gameplay: 8.0

This game is standard as far as the monster catching sub-genre goes. What helps is the fact that there’s various additional mechanics that not only help it step out from the shadows, but also brings an avalanche of replayability.

Sound: 8.0

In no way was I expecting the music that I heard. I love the battle theme and how beat thumping my intense it is. It doesn’t evoke any emotion but it does get my adrenaline flowing. 

Fun Factor: 8.5

Perhaps my enjoyment has something to do with the fact that I’m a shill for Pokémon. Then again, it likely has something to do with Coromon just being good. 

Final Verdict: 8.0

Coromon is available now on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Coromon was provided by the publisher.