Pokémon Masters is the latest big-name mobile RPG by DeNA and the Pokémon Company. This game has quickly climbed the ladder on both Google and Apple app stores, ranking in the top 30 on “Top Free” and “Top Grossing” games on the Google Play Store at the time of this article’s release. With such an impressive climb in such a short amount of time, this must be a truly spectacular new game, right?
Don’t count your I.V.’s before they hatch.
This game is far from perfect. It has some elements that Pokémon lovers will adore, but struggles in terms of pace and feeling overall too repetitive. This review will weigh the best and the worst parts of this new game and look for things that DeNA could do to improve it moving forward.
Overall, the mechanics of battling in Pokémon Masters is enjoyable and provides a lot of room for strategy. Choosing between four moves in quick succession that either do damage to the enemy team or provide a buff to teammates forces players to balance strategy with quick decision-making. All in all, this is a great part of the game to have gotten right for DeNA and should provide a good framework to build from.
This is one of the most key elements of the game to get correct because it helps to keep the game fresh. Right now, players have a temporary chance to unlock Blue and his Pidgeot in the shop and can interact with them through Events. The key will be for DeNA to keep these coming and to continue to feature characters from the Pokémon universe that fans can cling to. If they’re short for answers here, Reddit would be happy to provide some suggestions.
It Feels Like a Pokémon Game
Overall, this game has enough overall elements to still feel like a Pokémon game that is true to the brand. There are a plethora of familiar faces for fans from each generation of the franchise that can make just about anyone feel at home. There are swimmers in arctic areas, quirky catch-phrases, and Brock being Brock. If nothing else, enjoy the time spent being immersed in something that is truly Pokémon at is core.
Needless Dialogue Missions
There is always going to be grinding and dialogue to help develop a storyline in any good RPG. However, what makes it frustrating in Pokémon Masters is how disconnected the dialogue feels from the battling because of the layout of the missions. If the dialogue missions had more interaction where a player could make meaningful decisions, that would be one thing, but simply clicking through (or skipping) these make them feel wholly pointless in the overall campaign.
No Reward for Saving Gems
This may be a minor thing, but it seems completely ridiculous as-is. Currently, in the Shop, players can either purchase one Sync Pair Scout for 300 gems or 10 for 3,000. With absolutely no benefit for saving gems. At the very least, saving that much should give players the chance for a rarer unit, but could even extend to rewarding a free unit for saving up. As it stands right now, why even have the option for 3,000?
Set Star Amount for Sync Pair Scout
This is another potentially smaller thing, but, at a baseline, why are all of the Sync Pair Scout’s all at a set star amount? It would seem more true to Pokémon to give each pair an I.V. or some level of RNG to force players not to simply opt into the Pokémon that are already at five stars. This author wants a five-star Arcanaine, and he wants it now!
Co-Op Speed Too Slow
This is sort of a necessary evil due to the need to keep players on the same page, but it is still painfully slow to battle with other players. Increasing the speed for everyone, even if only slightly, could go a long way because, let’s be honest, no one plays this game at its standard speed. Right?
Things to Add
PvP With Competitive Ladder
This is a lesson that, if not learned quickly, could lead players to lose interest. It’s simple, people invest in their Pokémon and they want to battle against their friends. Not only this, but adding a PvP element to this game unleashes massive potential for a competitive scene to emerge. It’s a style of game that can be played at a very high level with lots of room for strategy that needs to be utilized in PvP. Above anything else, adding this element will be the thing that brings the next 10 million players to Pokémon Masters.
Different Story Elements (i.e. Mini-Games)
One of the things that make Pokémon games so enjoyable are the elements that break the cycle of the game. For Pokémon Stadium, this was the mini-games. For the games that were a part of the base franchise, it was the Safari Zone, the puzzles at each gym, and the various other unique elements. Right now, Pokémon Masters lacks anything in that regard. The story feels overall too repetitive and gets stale by about Chapter 8. Throw in some puzzles, mini-games, or any sort of interactive aspect to the storyline, and this game all of the sudden gets much more fun.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Pokémon Masters has a ton of potential for improvement, but as it currently stands, it doesn’t feel like a game worth as much hype as it’s received thus far. The battling is fun and the world feels like home to Pokémon fans, but the game has too many unnecessary and repetitive elements, feels slow overall, and desperately needs a PvP mode. If these things are addressed in the next couple of weeks or months, this game could be around for a very long time.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Pokemon Masters
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