Pokemon Masters is the latest mobile game in the incredibly popular monster catching franchise. Though it has climbed into the Top 10 charts for both Android and iOS free mobile game categories in its first week of release, the lacklustre gameplay and lack of innovation mean that only hardcore Pokemon fans will enjoy this offering.
You take on the role of a new Pokemon trainer just starting out with your Pikachu. Your dream is to climb the ranks of the Pokemon Master League; the twist is that you don’t battle alone but in teams of three trainers, each with their own favourite creatures.
To build up your team, you will meet iconic gym leaders from various past entries in the Pokemon universe, such as Brock with his trusty Onix and Misty with Starmie. You will travel to different regions and battle ever more powerful trainers as you progress through the single-player story.
The battling system is similar to the classic Pokemon games and adopts a turn-based system. Each Pokemon has a range of different attacks that cost a certain amount of energy. As time goes by, you will charge up energy to use your skills.
There is also an ultimate “Sync move” that can be used after a set number of actions, which can turn the tide of battle in an instant.
There is also a simple levelling system to allow aspiring trainers to evolve their Pokemon. However, being a freemium game, there is a premium currency (gems) that you can purchase with real money to buy loot boxes for the upgrade items you need to power up your fighters. You can also earn gems through grinding, but the difficulty ramps up quickly to entice you to spend real money.
On the up side, the graphics are very sharp and the user interface is clean and intuitive to use. The sound effects and backgrounds are also rendered very well. On the other hand, the gameplay and storyline are very generic and don’t bring anything new to the Pokemon formula.
Though the production values are above average, Pokemon Masters is little more than a cash-grabbing slot machine for Pokemon fanatics. Unless you really can’t sleep until you catch ’em all, stay away.