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- Pokemon Masters
Earlier this week, The Pokemon Company announced a brand new mobile game in conjunction with mobile specialists DeNA called Pokemon Masters. It’s set to star characters from the past games in the series such as Red, Brock, Misty, and others. The debut trailer showed only a tease of gameplay and design, but it looks quite promising so far. While only a glimpse was unveiled during the minute-long announcement of Pokemon Masters there are plenty of reasons to be looking forward to the upcoming mobile game.
Pokemon Masters stars familiar faces that are underutilized
Despite most of the early games only giving characters a few lines of dialogue, Pokemon is filled with iconic characters. Nearly all of the gym leaders from the original Pokemon Red and Blue are fan-favorites and have a warm spot in the heart of gamers. Who can forget taking on Brock’s gym filled with rock types or having to overcome Sabrina and her psychic pocket monsters? These are all formative moments in the series and represent some of the most difficult fights.
A lot of Pokemon characters make a single appearance and are then gone forever since the game often goes to different locales rather than reusing settings. Pokemon Masters is a great chance to build on these characters, many of which have established personalities thanks to the anime and other supplemental media, which will surely help evoke some nostalgia tingles. These are all great characters in their own right, so it’s thrilling that they will finally be used to their full potential here.
The most iconic Pokemon will appear
The Pokemon series has become bloated over the years with an absolutely staggering amount of pocket monsters to collect. It’s no longer about just collecting 150 of them, as there are now 809 of them. That’s a gigantic number and if we’re being honest, most people don’t care about all of them. Does anyone really care about the Pokemon that is just a set of keys or has a lot of love for Wimpod? There’s a lot of dead weight and by focusing on the most iconic trainers, it means we won’t be seeing a lot of the less interesting additions to the series.
Instead, we’ll get to see pocket monsters that we actually have an attachment to. Everyone knows that Red has a monstrous Charizard by his side and that the Indigo Elite Four Champion Lance loves his Dragonite. The same goes for Misty’s Starmie, Brock’s Onyx, and so on. These are all compelling characters that most people would want to team up with and battle against. Pokemon Masters will feature all of the star power and none of the filler characters that make up the bulk of each game, although it would be great to get a kick out of battling Youngster Joey from Pokemon Gold and Silver again since he has a Rattata that is in “the top percentage of Rattatas.”
It brings a new type of Pokemon battles
Despite adding things like mega evolutions and abilities over the years, the battle system in Pokemon is largely the same now as it was in the originals. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it is still a lot of fun, but this spin-off gives us a chance to see what it’s like to use Pokemon in a different way. From the trailer above, we can see that the pocket monsters engage on a three-on-three battle with six different trainers. This isn’t an entirely new concept as they’ve had two-on-two and three-on-three battles in the main games, so this isn’t breaking any convention and is still faithful to the source material.
However, it does look to be a very different battle system overall. Rather than having a number of attacks to choose from, it seems like players will be selecting a single attack for their Pokemon. This is probably done to simplify the battles and speed them up. The partner Pokemon you bring into battle will likely be more important than your move selection, and that still offers up an intriguing challenge for players to figure out. These are all welcome changes and it’s exciting to finally experience something different within the universe.
DeNA has a winning track record on mobile
This isn’t DeNA’s first rodeo in the mobile realm and not even the first time that the studio has taken an iconic role-playing game series to phones. In 2015, the company released Final Fantasy Record Keeper, which is quite similar to Pokemon Masters. While it starred original characters, the entire basis was that they were interacting with different parts of Final Fantasy history. Not only were all of the mainline series represented throughout the story, but a number of spin-offs like Final Fantasy Tactics and even Kingdom Hearts were celebrated too. DeNA understands how to do fan service the right way.
This isn’t to mention all of the other mobile titles that DeNA has worked with Nintendo on. It provided support on Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and the upcoming Mario Kart Tour. Not all of these have been home runs, but they have all been pretty enjoyable titles in their own right and establish a pretty sizable bar of quality to expect. Pokemon Masters will follow in their footsteps as their sixth collaboration with Nintendo and we can expect a lot from it.
The idea came from within Game Freak
While it was introduced as DeNA’s project, Pokemon Masters isn’t some random spin-off by them. The initial idea came from within Game Freak itself as Pokemon series art director Ken Sugimori came up with it. He wanted a title to use the best of his great character designs in order to celebrate the series in a new way. For a series that has stayed so true to its roots, it’s fun to see Game Freak putting a new twist on what it means to be a Pokemon trainer.