Little known (big known) fact about little old me, I absolutely love Pokémon games. Monster catching. I love it. I live for it. You could dare say the monster catching RPG is one of, if not my favorite genre of video game, it’s damn close. There’s just something about it that hits the spot, like eating your favorite meal after a long day at work. Monster RPG fans have been eating good lately, Pokémon isn’t the only monster taming kid on the block anymore. The past couple years we’ve seen a slew of challengers step up to take on the champion, between new games like Temtem, Monster Sanctuary, Nexomon, hell even Monster Rancher is making a comeback with a re-release of the first two games, not to mention Monster Hunter Stories coming back with an excellent sequel.
The latest in the line of challengers has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch, and I was very eager to grab my backpack full of monster catching devices and potions and other genre relevant bric-a-brac and set out on a brand new adventure with some cool creatures I’ve never seen before. So without further ado, here are my first impressions of Coromon by TRAGsoft.
There are two good things about this new class of monster-catching games. Number one, some of them are going to do things better than Pokémon, which will force The Pokémon Company to actually have to compete with something for the first time in 25 years and actually grow outside their comfort zone. Number two, fans of the genre are getting spoiled and happy with all of these fresh takes on the classic formula that introduce long overdue quality of life improvements and more importantly, refreshing new ideas.
Upon starting the game I’m immediately taken back to the early days of Pokémon with the delightful pixel graphics, a big difference right out the gate however is that Coromon lets you customize the heck out of your trainer right from the jump. Skin color, a ton of clothing options, hair styles and accessories, even beards. Yes, for once you’re not stuck being a ten year old and my grown ass man child self can be represented accurately on screen. I feel seen, TRAGsoft, and I appreciate you.
I’m not done gushing yet as quality of life improvements abound. When you get to the traditional monster lab to get your first monster friend, you’re actually given a difficulty option, something that Pokémon has needed since its introduction in 1996. You can choose between easy, normal, hard and insane. I went with normal, as hard is basically a nuzlocke run, where if your monster faints, they’re gone from your party forever. I would have loved a middle ground option to just bump up every enemy monster’s level a bit to make things more challenging, so unfortunately I think going from normal to nuzlocke with no in-between is a bit extreme and a missed opportunity, but I deeply appreciate the thought and effort to even consider giving players any options at all. Insane difficulty is a harder version of a nuzlocke run where there’s no running from battle and a few other extra levels of challenge. In my younger days as a wide eyed monster tamer, I probably would have given this extra challenge a spin at some point, but as an ancient elder 32 year old with a toddler, normal difficulty it is, for now.
The moment to moment gameplay itself will make any Pokémon veteran feel at home, you travel along routes with branching pathways between towns and other points of interest, entering or avoiding the tall grass and battling against other Coromon trainers along the way. Beat for beat this is a Pokémon game through and through, which is not a bad thing. It feels like I skipped an older generation and I’m just now getting around to playing it. The only difference is Coromon has plenty of quality of life updates, where the older Pokémon games absolutely did not and stubbornly refused to implement even to this day. The future is now old man.
I’m really loving this game so far. I’ve put about 10 hours into it and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Granted, a lot of those hours have been me searching for potent and perfect Coromon, this series’ version of a Shiny. Encountering new monsters at every turn is a treat, as I’m so used to seeing the same Pokemon over and over in those games. Seeing new designs with great names, themes and mythology is a treat. Every so often I’ll see a new guy and be like WHO IS THAT!? Its nice to be surprised every now and then by a monster design that really clicks with you and makes you want to use that guy on your team.
I’ve made it through the opening paces, and have only just begun to see Coromon’s story begin to take a turn into very interesting territory, which I won’t spoil for you. Currently I’m in the first dungeon type area, on my way to fight a legendary monster, quite a bit earlier than a standard Pokemon game would have you going toe to toe with a monster of such status. A clear difference here on my march to this first goal, is the journey to the first big fight has been such a treat.
Pokémon, at its start, had quite a few dungeon style areas where you would go into a building or cave and spend hours wandering around getting in fights with monsters who called the area home as well as bad guys like Team Rocket and the like. You’d actually have to figure your way though, find some keys, flip some switches, and of course who could forget good old fashioned sliding pads that would spin you around all over the place. Over time though, cool and engaging areas like this have all but disappeared from modern Pokémon titles, which I’m sad to say has areas that are basically hallways from Point A to Point B nowadays, and barely a puzzle in sight. Which is why I’m very, very happy to report that Coromon picks up the torch that Pokémon left drowning in a puddle in the late 2000’s, and gives you a meaty dungeon to explore and conquer right out the gate. If they’re throwing something like this at you this early on in the adventure, with a legendary boss supposedly at the end of it no less, I can’t wait to see what else waits for me through the rest of the game.
To sum up my experience so far, here’s some quick thoughts about Coromon:
- Quality of life improvements over genre mainstays are greatly appreciated.
- Charming monster design. An early favorite of mine is Armadil, who is my go-to monster thus far.
- Having some of the Coromon actually kind of say thier names when they pop out is a nice touch and a huge step above the typical midi screeches we get from other big name monster catching brands.
- Great puns in the monster names, Cubzero? Perfect. How did Pokémon not use this name already?
- Relegating HM type moves that do things in the overworld to the tamer character itself is a great play.
- A difficulty between normal and hard where enemy levels are boosted but you don’t lose coromon upon fainting would be incredible.
- No grass/plant type? Why?
- Way too many bug Coromon
- That one scientist with the colored button puzzles. What a nerd.
For now, my immediate impressions of this game are very positive and I’m having a great time. It’s really launching me back in time in a good way, to the time of my life where I’d be sitting up in bed with a dim light on, just light enough to just barely see my GameBoy Color’s screen, just desperately trying to make it back to a Pokémon center after a tough grind right before a gym battle. Only this time, instead of my parents coming in and yelling at me to put that game down and go to bed, its my wife. And I have work in the morning. I’m looking forward to exploring all that the world of Coromon has to offer, and hopeful that this series is just getting started, I’ll be watching Coromon closely to see where TRAGsoft goes from here.
Rest assured I’ll be back with more thoughts and a more in depth analysis of the game when I’ve fully finished it. Until then, happy hunting my friends and as they say in the world of Coromon, “Shine bright!’