Who’s in the mood for some monster catching?
There have been a few releases within the monster catching genre as of late on the App Store. Geomon is one such game, and it makes an earnest attempt to add elements to the genre that Pokemon built. Geomon does things that I would love to see implemented in a Pokemon release, but I can’t say that they make Geomon surpass the title it aims to imitate.
Right down to the title, Geomon mimics the Pokemon franchise. It is a game that, on the surface, seems like Pokemon in nearly every way. The player’s goal is to catch, raise and battle a team of monsters. These monsters have their own elemental strengths and weaknesses, and learn new attacks as they increase in level. Players pit these monsters in battle against monsters found in the field and monsters owned by other trainers in game and in the real world. Like Pokemon, the monsters are all eye-catching but have little in terms of animation during battle.
What Geomon adds is the use of the iPhone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the player’s location. Depending on the player’s location in the real world, different monsters can be found in the wild. Players also encounter different trainers in the real world, and can engage them in battle. On the surface, this sounds great. A few things get in the way of Geomon making full use of this functionality.
While the idea of having the actual world serve as your in-game world sounds great, it limits the sense of place, and by extension my sense of purpose within the game. Even if I do explore and find a great monster, I can’t catch it unless my monsters are at a high enough level. In Pokemon, there was at least the hope of catching a high level monster found in a chance encounter. I would have rather had the GPS functionality serve as a secondary map, because I don’t feel like the GPS exploration is consistent enough to work as a game mechanic, and it doesn’t add flavor to the game’s missions.
In fact, missions are the primary pull to the game’s arc, and they are largely comprised of “kill x monsters, report back.” Since reporting back always means tapping a button to submit the quest, the game lacks a sense of real exploration and progression. The actual world map feels divorced from the game’s story content.
It becomes hard to complain about a game that is entirely free. Geomon has a decent control system, a large library of monsters, and the ability to battle real-world people, and this is all free. The story is regrettably tied to the use of in-game coins, and if you want to be able to play the next quest within a reasonable amount of time you will need to pay up. Practically, this requires the use of in-game money. I don’t find the story compelling enough to invest money in it. It goes against my internal instinct to pay for content, and not just time.
The blow is softened by the fact that it doesn’t ask for money up front, but Geomon just isn’t the Pokemon usurper it aims to be.
Geomon is available for free on the App Store.