Pokemon Masters was welcomed with huge hype after its initial announcement, and rightfully so; who doesn’t want to interact with literally every gym leader and elite four from every Pokemon main series game?
Not only that, many protagonists, rivals and champions are part of the game, with more to come. But, does the gameplay justify the hype, or is DeNa just using nostalgia and fanservice to gain their downloads?
This review, being of a mobile game, will instead have a general, gameplay and personal thoughts section. Without further ado:
Table of Contents
Developed and released from DeNa, in collaboration with the Pokemon Company, Pokemon Masters is a fast paced, 3 on 3 game.
Due to its gameplay, as well as its storyline, I have to say, this game resembles the main series Pokemon games more so than any other Pokemon game on mobile.
For the gameplay, more on the gameplay section. As for the storyline; you are a Pokemon Trainer that arrives on the artificial island of Pasio. Trainers from around the world have gathered to participate in an event called the Pokemon Masters League (abbr. PML).
Two young Gym Leaders from Kanto, Brock and Misty, get to know you and see potential in you. So they decide to partner with you.
The rest of the story is you and your team traveling around Pasio in order to recruit more members and take on the 5 PML Leaders who hold the 5 badges you need in order to compete in the PML.
Like any other Pokemon game, you have your own dedicated rival, and a regional bad guy team called Team Break. There is also a “regional” professor, whose main field of interest is sync moves (more on that later).
The story hasn’t finished yet, and many updates come with new chapters.
As mentioned, the game is filled with characters from past games, and every one has a voice actor, which is another cool touch.
So, all this makes it look very much alike to an actual Pokemon game. So where are the differences? In the gameplay of course.
Unlike the main series Pokemon games, every character only has 1 Pokemon. The pair of Trainer / Pokemon is called a Sync Pair. Every character has their own unique Sync Pair which usually is 1 of their signature Pokemon. The protagonist’s Sync Pokemon is Pikachu (duh!).
Before any given battle, you must choose the 3 Sync Pairs that you will take to battle with you. Every Sync Pair has a Type and Role.
Type determines the Type of your moves. Every Pokemon only has one weakness so the game can be more balanced. The Pokemon weaknesses are based on their actual in-game weaknesses.
Role determines your role in the fight. There are the Attack Sync Pairs, which focus on inflicting damage, the Support Sync Pairs, which rely on defending and supporting through healing and raising the whole team’s stats and finally, the Tech Sync Pairs, which mostly inflict conditions. Weather changing pairs are always Tech as well.
So, after you choose your Sync Pairs, you go into the battle. The 3 on 3 battle system is not the traditional turn based combat, instead, you are given an energy bar, which slowly replenishes over time (depending on your Pokemon’s Speed stat). Every battle move has a specific energy cost.
Every Sync Pairs have 2 battle moves and 2 “supporting” moves called Trainer moves, which raise stats for the Pokemon or the whole team. Sometimes they might heal or cure status conditions, or even replenish the energy bar. The “supporting” moves don’t use energy, but count towards the Sync Move counter.
Every Sync Pair has at least 1 Passive Skill that applies for the whole combat duration. Of course, not everything is unlocked from the start; every Sync Pair only begins with 1 attacking move and 1 “supporting” move.
Every Sync Pair can also have a Lucky Skill. Lucky Skills usually either strengthen moves, or reduce/negate stat reductions.
Lucky Skills are unlocked with rewards obtained from the Battle Villa.
You have to spend various items you find in the story, or missions in order to unlock regular moves and abilities.
Every chapter in the story unlocks a new Sync Pair, but you can unlock additional ones by spending gems; the in-game currency. When scouting for Sync Pairs, and already obtained one can appear, which will give you points toward upgrading their Sync Move.
And at long last, the Sync Moves. After a specific number of actions, one of your Sync Pairs can use their very own Sync Move. Lore-wise, Sync Moves signify the bond between Trainer and Pokemon (that’s why most have really fun names that fit each character’s personality).
Battle-wise, they are very powerful moves. The Sync Move also may Mega-Evolve the Pokémon depending on the pair.
Ever since the release of Leaf & Eevee, Sync Moves may also buff the whole team instead of dealing damage.
Every Sync Pair also has its Potential (signified by their stars) and their Level. The Potential basically dictates the maximum level you can reach, while the level is very similar to the main series games’ leveling system.
Each level gives you a raise in stats. Every Sync Pair has a starting level cap, but you can increase that. You can also increase each pair’s potential.
The stats are identical to the main series stats; HP is your hitpoints, Attack for the physical moves, Special Attack for the special moves, Defense for defending the physical moves, Special Defense for defending the special moves and Speed, which is the only one that differs and as mentioned, fills up your in-battle energy gauge.
Some Sync Pairs can evolve their Pokemon after a certain level. To do that, you just do a special story mission. There are also general story missions (called “A Day With … “) that you unlock for every Sync Pair by just recruiting them, which adds to the lore part for all geeks out there.
And to satisfy the weeaboos out there, there is
There is also the co-op mode, unlocked after enough progress in the story. You play with 2 other players and their own Sync Pairs and cooperate with them in various battles and events.
Do note that co-op is much harder than single player, and sometimes requires specific niche pairs to play optimally.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no PvP, nor is it planned (of course, this may get changed in the future but don’t count on it). Pokemon Masters is designed as a cooperative Pokemon battle game, and PvP could ruin that.
Then again, I wouldn’t complain if there was
A Pokemon game with every famous trainer, that you get to choose your favorite and go fight battles? Sign me up!!!
In all seriousness, the game has tons of positives and very few negatives (which I will mention). But it still is a mobile game so maybe the expectations were a bit high. Nevertheless, if you are a Pokemon, then you will enjoy the game.
The best thing is DeNa (her?)self. DeNa makes a huge effort to adhere to its community, always listening for feedback and implementing based on player requests.
It’s very nice to be part of a game that you know that your opinion matters.
There is something though that I believe could lift the game to new heights.
It’s the PvP.
I get their reasoning, I really do, but no one would be forced to play PvP and lose that “cooperative feeling and making friends”, but the more competitive players would be satisfied.
There doesn’t even have to be a reward system, just some form of ranking.
The game started really rocky, but thanks to player feedback and DeNa’s hard efforts, the game’s at its peak and going higher.
I definitely recommend it.
General Rating: 9.0
Have you played Pokemon Masters? Do you like it so far? If you’d like, you can leave me your trainer ID down in the comments so we can become in-game friends. Let me know below.
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