If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Coromon is the greatest love letter ever written. It makes no secret that it has been inspired by classic Pokémon titles, particularly those from the Game Boy Advance era. It stops just short of being a direct imitation of those games but was clearly created to cater to fans who loved those generations and have been craving more of them.
We have to admire the ambition of developers TRAGsoft. When you look to emulate one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time, player expectations will be very high. While this game isn’t going to dethrone the king of monster training games, it is good enough to capitalise on the nostalgia for the classic Pokémon titles without feeling like a soulless clone. If there is one thing that Coromon has no shortage of, it is charm and soul.
The mechanics in this game won’t be a surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with a Pocket Monster. You create a Battle Researcher at Lux Solis, sent out into the world to catch and train Coromon. Your specific task is to collect the essence of the six Titans that populate the Velua region where the game takes place. Of course, there is a shady organisation working behind the scenes to use the Titan essences for their mysterious, nefarious purposes and it is up to the player to stop them.
Coromon takes this familiar formula and offers a few twists and changes to it, but largely it plays things very straight. It won’t offer many surprises in the plot or mechanics, although some elements have been streamlined.
Type match-ups are at the core of the battles here. There are seven different types of Coromon out in the wild, plus six that are restricted to attack types, each with their own weaknesses and strengths. There aren’t any double-types on offer here, so it is significantly easier to figure out what kind of attack to use against an enemy. Having the type-chart easily accessible in the game’s menu even during battle was especially helpful.
Unfortunately, this also means that, to Pokémon veterans, the game feels somewhat simplified. It also means that you won’t have Coromon in your squad that cover multiple types for you, forcing you to grind until some backup creatures are ready to take on bosses where their type match-up will be key. You’ll need to do a lot of grinding, especially in the early parts of the game, which makes the story unfold at a snail’s pace. It can take hours to move from one area of the map to another due to the sudden increase in difficulty offered by new trainers. There are some balance issues here that impede progress without offering anything fun in return, forcing the player to spend hours at a time levelling their Coromon while retracing their steps constantly back to the nearest Pokémon Centre stand-in to heal before doing it all over again.
The game offers some advanced game modes that are similar to fan-favourite Nuzlocke mechanics. These difficulty settings enforce previously self-imposed rules like only catching one Coromon per area and releasing them into the wild if they faint in battle. Including these in the core of the game is a nice touch for Pokémon fans wanting an extra challenge here and serves as a further nod to the affection the developers have for that series and their dedication to replicating the experience as best they can.
That love is largely what keeps Coromon from feeling like a flat, lifeless clone of something greater. Great care has been taken to ensure that each creature you encounter feels distinct, with bespoke cries that play as they burst onto the battlefield. There are 118 different Coromon, which is less than even the original Pokémon Red and Blue offered. There are three total variations of each, though; each Coromon has a ranking of Standard, Potent, or Perfect, depending on how high its Potential stat is, a mechanic that takes the place of the Shiny system. It adds an element of chance and excitement when you spot a creature with a different coloration than usual.
Unsurprisingly considering the franchise it is trying to emulate, Coromon plays particularly well in handheld mode. It feels like this is the way that the developers always intended the game to be played, even though the Switch release was delayed for several months. For players who have already dipped into the game on PC or mobile, the game offers cross-save functionality, meaning that you won’t have to restart your Coromon journey now that the game is out on Switch.
In addition to allowing you to pick up your existing saves on the Switch, Coromon has online multiplayer in the form of ranked and casual matches. Matchmaking for this feature was a slow process, taking several attempts before we could find an opponent. However, once we were in a match there was very little lag to frustrate your strategy. It seemed to be a lack of available players in the immediate post-Switch launch period that kept us from battle rather than any technical hiccup.
Coromon offers dozens of hours of gameplay to enjoy. The world of Velua is charming, full of brightly coloured creatures to capture and over-the-top battles to fight. Fans of classic Pokémon games who have been put off by the series’ transition to 3D environments will feel right at home here, while the experience is stripped back enough to allow new fans to not feel intimidated from the outset. It isn't perfect, and there's nothing surprising about it whatsoever, but it's still a fun and heartfelt tribute to one of gaming’s most popular and long-running franchises.
Coromon takes aim at one of the greatest series of all time and, while it isn’t any threat to Pokémon’s worldwide domination, it is a charming and fun nostalgia trip for fans. Excessive grinding and a story that takes its time to get going mar what is otherwise a worthwhile journey, but if you're a fan of old-school Pokémon, that shouldn’t put you off investigating this title. Whether you’re a new trainer or you’ve been catching 'em all for years now, Coromon has something for you to enjoy.