Cue the Pokemon theme song and the 90’s fans because it’s time to catch ’em all in the brand new mobile Pokemon Masters game. Pokemon Masters, created by DeNA co, was launched on August 29th 2019 to the global world, after a soft opening in Singapore on July 25th to an enormous fan base that crashed the server much like the start of Pokemon Go.
The game itself plays nothing like the classic Pokemon formula, which was actually refreshing. In Pokemon Masters you try to acquire the trainers with their Pokemon partners through a Gacha system, the player acquires a currency called gems which are used to ‘Summon’ a Pokemon trainer, those of which long time fans of the series would recognize like Brandon and Olivia. Much as the Gacha system slightly detracts from the old Pokemon games, there is still the RPG elements of leveling one’s Pokemon and getting them to evolve after a certain threshold. Battle consists of a pseudo turn based system where bars fill at the bottom of the screen that can be consumed to use abilities, or the player can use passives for free, up to a limited amount of times. After the player uses a set amount of actions, they can then use a Sync Move, which is basically a powerful damage dealing ability.
To many fans this may sound like a dream come true, though in its execution, DeNA falls short with a few glaring flaws. The amount of gems the player can acquire, while unlimited based on the 100 gems once a week, the price to summon a Pokemon Trainer is 300. The player is also able to acquire 30 gems per battle mission, and 10 for each story mission. Pokemon Masters plays easy enough for someone not looking to spend money on another Pokemon game, though the difficulty increases as the game goes on, specifically during co-op fights where the strategy of solo fights goes out the window. Then if we take a look at the Gacha system, there is only a 2% chance to acquire a featured trainer, where the other 5 Star units only have a 1% chance. Luckily, for any of us playing Pokemon Masters, there are a good amount of free, story based, trainers they give to the player as well as 3 Star and 4 Star trainers. The game, as it stands right now, is incredibly short and an extreme grind, which is easily offset by nostalgic music, cheesy dialogue, and anime like graphics that fit the Pokemon world perfectly.
At the end of the day, Pokemon Masters earns a 7/10 (3/5), as there is an exceptional amount of room for growth, but for the time being there’s just not enough content to keep players enthralled nor is there enough free currency to really pull for a favorite Pokemon or trainer. Nostalgic moments and rough Gacha rates aside, the story feels reminiscent of the classic Pokemon world, collect badges, defeat the leader, become a champion, all tied up nicely with a new cast of villains that aren’t really relevant at first. The music, graphics, dialogue and the plot are enough to draw in the most basic of fans but Pokemon Masters left us wanting more with a snail’s pace of releasing new content.