Pokemon is still the very best like no game ever was, but Coromon provides a fun experience to those who crave a new title in the classic style of the genre that Game Freak created.
Coromon isn’t reinventing the wheel with its Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire-like visuals. While the inspirations are clear as the eye can see, Coromon’s developer, Tragsoft, has lovingly recreated that iconic pixel art style and made it their own. During battles, the Coromon are swaying to and fro with unique animations, and while the attacks don’t look particularly spectacular, they fit the aesthetic of a Game Boy Advance title. One of the most adorable creatures in the game so far is Torugo, a fire-breathing turtle that bobs its head up and down. This little guy deserves a plush of his own one day like Pikachu.
The environments of Coromon are vibrant and varied. You’re immediately sucked into the vibe that the developers are intending, and the pixel art is drop-dead gorgeous. During your adventure, you stumble across a small farm town out of touch from electricity called Hayville. It gives a good juxtaposition between the modern organizational complex that you work in, Lux Solis. The farm town has houses stacked with hay for roofs, and vegetable patches that your character jokingly makes puns around. It all feels lived in and thought out just like the Pokemon series.
There’s so much attention to detail in the world that battles are played out in front of your surrounding environment with all-new art for each landscape. You can see Hayville’s rural setting in the background as you face against a swarm of Beezel or a battle area set in Lux Solis’ complex.
When you’re first greeted into Tragsoft’s world, you’re given a bevy of customization options for your character. There are many types of headgear, hairstyles (and colors), glasses, and clothing available to you. You can be whoever you’d like. Pokemon Sword & Shield recently implemented this, but it’s great to see all sorts of options within a classic monster taming style. What makes this better is that you can unlock new clothes as you progress through the game.
One issue that can be fixed before Coromon’s full release on Steam is the mouse and keyboard controls. It feels cumbersome to boot the menu and click on every single element on the screen you need rather than simply scrolling with WASD and pressing the spacebar to confirm. It’s awkward to control with the keyboard, especially if you love to play Pokemon games, but if you have a controller, you can customize the button inputs to however you’d like. More PC games should do that on-the-fly.
Battles play out in a similar fashion to Pokemon, but there are a few twists to keep an eye on. Instead of the PP system, there is the SP system that with every move drains down to zero. If you run out of SP, you’ll have to spend a turn recharging half of the meter. It’s more akin to TemTem than Pokemon with how those monsters’ bars drain. However, it’s not as crushingly difficult and the recharge mechanic gives you more time to train with your preferred Coromon.
The tried and tested turn-based formula really works in Coromon as you collect and level up your favorite monsters. In fact, this game provides a new level of customization than its competition. Just like Dark Souls, you can allocate points to whatever attribute you prefer with the awakening system. Do you want your Torugo to be tankier? Increase its defense stat! Coromon has a more traditional leveling up format on top of awakening, giving you more options on how you’d like to build your monster team.
What doesn’t particularly work in Coromon is its dreadful pacing. It takes about 30 minutes to 45 minutes to finally get into a wild battle, while trainer battles don’t appear until 90 minutes to two hours. The game gives you a bunch of busy work and chores that it becomes more of a fetch quest than an RPG. When you have to finish a quiz before battling a trainer, you’ve done something wrong. We don’t get into the meat and potatoes fast enough, and with a younger audience, that lack of attention span could drift a potential player away from a decent RPG.
The Pokemon series lately has been criticized for its laughably easy difficulty in Sword & Shield, and Coromon ups the ante for those who want a challenge. For seemingly the first time in the genre, there are multiple levels of difficulty. It’s perfect for someone who likes to conduct Nuzlocke runs as the hard option instantly removes your Coromon from the party for you. You also can’t escape any battle.
There’s an even harder difficulty that erases the ability to fast travel and limits you to only one catchable Coromon in each area. If it faints, it’s gone and you won’t be able to catch another unless you find a perfect Coromon, a creature with the highest potential value (they’re rare to find). If that’s not your speed, there is an easy option too. It provides full HP to any Coromon that level up, shop items are 50% cheaper, and the ability to revive any Coromon with a healing item instead of a revive.
Tragsoft has hidden the fact that Coromon’s originally a mobile game pretty well, but the UI is too simplified to appeal to a hardcore audience on PC. Instead of the moves being listed, there are some vague symbols instead that represent each move. The SP number is on the bottom right. A simple menu of moves that are available to the player, and perhaps a description of what each attack does during the battle would go a long way. Thankfully, you can check each monster’s attacks in the main menu, but it’s not accessible during battles.
One of Pokemon’s most iconic attributes is its legendary music. Unfortunately, Coromon doesn’t live up to its influence. The wild battle theme sounds like the composer copied Nintendo’s homework. It has the same bassline and similar hectic high pitch playing of the piano from Pokemon Gold. There’s plenty of character within the songs that match the overall theme, but they aren’t memorable. So far, the melodies sound repetitive and feature some underwhelming samples.
18 is a love letter to a bygone era of Pokemon games, but manages to add its own flair with the awakening system and multiple difficulties. More PC features like a proper mouse and keyboard set up and a more detailed UI would be welcome as this game continues to be developed.
Coromon is expected to release on Steam sometime in 2021. There’s a demo currently available on Steam during Valve’s Game Festival.
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The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative. His dream is to go to E3 and PAX one day and experience the mania of each event!
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