Release Date: August 29, 2019
Platform: iOS, Android
Pokémon Masters has launched on cellular units, and the massive query is that this: will this new game attain the identical mass viewers, and make as a lot financial institution, as Pokémon Go has? It’ll take a while to get a solution to that query, of course, which leaves us with one other quandary to ponder: is Pokémon Masters any good?
The reply to that second query can be “yes,” however with fairly just a few caveats. The Pokémon Company and the builders at DeNa have drawn collectively an enormous crossover right here, which spans by way of each period of Pokémon storytelling. That alone, as a core idea, is certain to be warmly acquired by followers. Certainly, if you happen to’ve been enjoying by way of all of the basic video games just lately, you may see masses of acquainted faces popping up, partaking in battles and interacting with one another in methods you have by no means seen earlier than.
This unprecedented interconnectivity between Pokémon characters is made potential by the game’s story: a model new island has been created within the Pokémon world, named Pasio, and it’s host to an enormous match the place trainers assemble in groups of three to participate in a brand new kind of battling. Because of this, extra fan-favorite characters are showing on Pasio than you can shake a Sudowoodo at.
The participant character, whose title and look are chosen by you, has additionally traveled to Pasio to participate on this match. As quickly as you arrive, the Kanto health club leaders Misty and Brock signal as much as be in your workforce. The extra you play, the extra characters you may add to your roster. These iconic trainers and their critters are all rendered in eye-pleasing trend, with an artwork model that blends the creature sprites from the video games with the character designs from the anime sequence. It’s a very cute visible language, which seems like a definitive and tremendous approachable model of how this world ought to look.
Each character has one companion Pokémon with them, and these duos are generally known as “Sync Pairs.” Going right into a battle, you may be instructed which sorts of Pokémon shall be most advantageous from a tactical standpoint, and you may select which three Snyc Pairs to ship into the encounter. Interestingly, the urged kind match-ups aren’t all the time those you’d count on, with weak spot and resistances getting just a little bit of an overhaul right here. If you have been eager for a Pokémon game that asks you to do one thing a bit totally different to the same old RPG battles, it is properly price making an attempt out the Pokémon Masters method of doing issues.
With three Pokémon on both workforce, and with real-time mechanics to cope with, you may end up switching between your creatures recurrently to dish out injury in the best method. Unlike the same old turn-based system from the RPG video games, right here there’s a bar on the backside of the display screen – with a number of notches on it – that costs up whilst you battle. Each assault has a sure value, relating to those notches, so you may’t simply do any assault you need at any time. You want to attend for the bar to refill earlier than you do any assaults, with these gaps between violence being the right time to make use of gadgets like potions to heal up your Pokémon.
Each Pokémon additionally has a particular Sync Move, reminiscent of a Z-Move, that may cost up after a certain quantity of turns. Getting to grips with this technique is a enjoyable technique to spend just a few hours, and it will really feel like a breath of recent air if you happen to’ve been slogging by way of RPG battles just lately. Here, successful a match is all about timing and punctiliously deciding on your subsequent strike, relatively than simply doling out the identical highly effective assault repeatedly. It’s a neat refresh of what a Pokémon battle may be.
However, as soon as the preliminary thrill of seeing your favourite characters has worn off, and as soon as you have totally discovered the battle mechanics, you may begin to discover that Pokémon Masters would not actually provide a lot depth or selection in phrases of its core gameplay expertise. The choice to play in co-op mode affords a bit of a distraction, and there is all the time the promise of extra content material to return, however the principle chunk of the game would not really feel significantly compelling. You would possibly put it down after just a few hours and really feel no actual urge to select it up once more.
Whether you pace by way of the principle story or take the time to go to the coaching space or full aspect quests between missions, each side of this game feels prefer it’s on rails. You’re both clicking by way of a dialog the place you aren’t getting to make any life-changing selections, otherwise you’re screen-tapping your method by way of a battle to progress to the following stage. You can even set conversations and battles to play out robotically, which makes it really feel like the entire expertise is basically meaningless. It’s advantageous as a time-sink on a brief commute (though the should be on-line implies that enjoying it on the subway is inconceivable), however Pokémon Masters just isn’t a game that encourages an enormous emotional dedication. If you can time a robotic to faucet the display screen on the proper time, you can most likely full the entire thing with out even taking a look at it.
The extra you play, the extra Pokémon Masters begins to really feel like a Gacha game: you may both grind by way of ranges to earn sufficient diamonds to scout for brand new Sync Pairs so as to add to your assortment, or you may spend some real-life cash to bolster your ranks sooner. There’s a particular endorphin rush once you snare a brand new character, however since all you are able to do is ship them into yet one more battle, the urge to spend cash on buying these new trainers actually is minimal. If you can develop a significant story with these characters, these microtransactions would possibly look a bit extra tempting.
Let’s not neglect that the battle mechanics are enjoyable and the artwork model is nice, and you have got to applaud the breadth of this crossover in phrases of the deep-cut characters which might be crammed in. But even with all of that going for it, Pokémon Masters feels far too pre-determined and repetitive to face subsequent to the basic entries within the Pokémon franchise. Here’s hoping that Pokémon Sword and Shield can scratch the itches that this one missed.