Nexomon + Nexomon: Extinction: Complete Collection
The Nexomon series is one that most players will look at and immediately pass judgment as a "clone" of a certain popular multi-million, if not billion, selling video game franchise. I won't sugarcoat it, it is heavily based on the Pokemon series in terms of presentation, execution, and overall feel. Within the first few minutes, even playing on a console gives off a "mobile game" feeling. That's not to say mobile gaming is bad, far from it, but you can feel when a game is a port with minor adjustments to cater to the console and PC gamers.
Dig below the surface however and players will find a charming and self-aware monster-taming RPG that knows its audience. It does its best to trim out the fluff while also providing its own story to tell. While the story may be something that would feel right at home in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, all of its assets are original from the Nexomon designs to the characters and the location. You are the child of a scientist couple who is "graced" by the Nexolord. The Nexolord is an arrogant tamer of Nexomon who is involved in a top-secret project.
Of course, your parents won't tell you what that project is because "you're just a child," but fortunately you quickly join in on the adventure. Your best friend is getting harassed by a thug and you go in to help her only to reclaim one of the Nexomon in the thug's briefcase. After the encounter, your job is to go to the various overseers and figure out what their leader, The Nexolord, is planning. The "overseers" act as the game's "gym leaders." I didn't play too far on the Switch version but I have the game on PC and I recall the first overseer being an obnoxious gym rat.
This leads to the gameplay aspect. There's a lot of catching Nexomon, grinding, and raising their levels to have a balanced team. It takes a while to get the ball rolling because items like EXP Share and mechanics like all Pokemon gaining experience are things I take for granted. This game and its sequel is a homage to the classic Pokemon titles with a few quality-of-life checks. The main one is the lack of RNG when engaging in battle.
There are medical centers to heal your Nexomon, there are wild Nexomon, and there are tamer battles. The wild Nexomon are easily distinguished by the rustling in the grass and battles are identified by an icon. One thing that I felt both Nexomon and Extinction did well was with their dialogue. There are many characters who are expressive and aware that the game has its "cliche" moments. Sometimes it goes overboard but self-awareness is what makes these moments enjoyable.
One key difference between Nexomon and Pokemon is how attacks are handled. In the latter, each individual attack has its designated number of usage valued under PP. For the former, each Nexomon has a number of SP and each attack requires a certain number to use. This lines itself up with more traditional RPGs as well as proper strategy so you're not without a way to defend yourself.
I will recommend playing through the first game before Extinction as it offers the same continuity as Black 2 does for Black. That is to say that Extinction is a direct sequel to the first game, referencing the events of the latter in the opening cutscene and the first few minutes. While it's not a requirement to play the first one as it's a new region with new Nexomon, many plot details are revealed to the player without a spoiler warning. I'll be courteous enough to omit the story as it is told in the opening but it would be nice to offer a warning to new players.
For a "clone," there's a lot of charm to be had in both games. With the number of Pokemon fan hacks available, it's best to think of the Nexomon Complete Collection as a glorified "fan game." No mention of any Pocket Monsters or critters of any kind is found here, which would be obvious as this is playable on a Nintendo console among other platforms. Those waiting for Pokemon Violet and Scarlet to scratch the itch of an entirely new Poke-adventure will find sustenance in this combo pack until November.
The Nexomon + Nexomon: Extinction: Complete Collection is available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch