When the newest main-line Pokemon game was announced, I was a tad excited. Sure, I didn’t get the last few outings (I think I ended with the first Unova one, what was that, X/Y?), but this looked nice. Well, sorta. The girls looked nice, at least. The pokemon looked like pokemon, nothing special. And the world art looked like crap, for a Switch game. Like an indy game, not like a game from a company that has basically all the money. And then there was news that the National Dex, or whatever it’s called, won’t be in the game, at all. Because it’d be too much work. Now, I don’t really care about catching them all (in fact, that’s one of the worst parts of the series, in my opinion), but that sort of attitude really rustles my jimmies, especially when it comes from a company that has practically infinite resources to do what it wants with a game. I mean, pokefans (even cooled ones like me) have been waiting for a main-line console Pokemon for years, and this is what they’re offering? Even so, I was going to use this as an excuse to finally get a Switch, even if grudgingly.
Then I learned about Pokemon Masters, or rather, what Pokemon Masters is really about. When I first heard about it, I just thought it was a Pokemon gacha game. I’d already passed on Pokemon Go (I don’t like pokemans nearly enough to get me to take walks outside), and this sounded like an even worse idea than that, especially with a mainline game coming. But no, it’s not about collecting pokemon, but collecting trainers. Sure, the trainers come with pokemon, but the trainers are the main focus. Now that I can get behind. I already play other waifu collectin’ games, so this was a no-brainer for me.
While I haven’t played that many of the games (Just R/B/Y, B/W1&2, and X/Y), so I’m not really familiar with the characters, that hasn’t stopped me from getting into these games before. Hell, not even knowing the language the game’s in hasn’t stopped me before. So yah, I’m in.
And it officially came out today. So, hurray for that.
Just a few problems, though.
First, I couldn’t find it on the Google Play Store. Odd, that, a major release just wasn’t there? Now, this is on my Android tablet, which is kinda a toaster, but at least it’s better than my cracker of a phone. I was able to find the game on QooApp just fine, and it installed no problem. I had read that this was only working for 64 bit systems…so not a lot of phones. Not the best way to go about this, methinks.
Next, it asked for a whole bunch of info. I was able to deny pretty much all of it though, which was nice. I guess they want to be extra careful, with a game a lot of kids will be playing (they hope). I was even able to tell them to stuff it with the ads. And I didn’t even have to register with my Google account, which I didn’t want to do in the very likely case that I would want to reroll.
It gives options for playing in English or Japanese. That was rough, because I don’t want English voices, but I definitely want English text. It didn’t give the option there to mix it up. It is there in the in-game options, though, so that was nice. I don’t recall if you get those options until before or after you start the first chapter of the game (the options are kinda hidden even after), so I played the first chapter with the English voices. You know, they had both Pokemon money and DeNa money, but they couldn’t even get the cartoon dub actors. Pretty sad. And they do the whole one-line/grunt thing too, which is both sad, because lack of effort, and nice, since I didn’t have to listen to the voice acting so much. There are stories for every trainer I believe, which might be fully voiced, but probably won’t; I haven’t gotten that far yet.
The gameplay is a lot like the triple battles from the games. You get three trainers with one pokemon each, and so does your opponent. However, this isn’t turn-based, but is rather active-time, so you can’t just put your device down in the middle of battle. I don’t know how much I do or don’t like that yet, but at least it’s something different. That seems to be the extent of the battles. Again, I’m not very far, so maybe it changes things up a bit.
The monitization seems to be rather stingy. You don’t get a lot of free rolls, even though this is the beginning of the game. After the first chapter, you only have enough gems to do four single rolls – many gachas give you at least a ten-roll to start, so you feel like you’ve gotten something good (and so gacha vets have enough to decide to reroll or not). From what I understand, you only get enough gems for a ten-roll after playing through all the current story content. Also, they give a lot of the fan-favorites for free during the story, which doesn’t mean a whole lot in the long run (alts are always a thing), but at the beginning that doesn’t induce rolling very much. I guess they are hoping they’ll have a guaranteed audience that will roll everything no matter how stingy the game is, like FGO has.
Some people were complaining that there is a scam gacha that can only be obtained with paid currency, but that’s normal. I guess they are all Dokkan Battle players, which is the only popular game that I know of that allows those deals to be obtained with free currency. I just wish there were a clear graphical difference between the paid currency and the free currency – both use the same crystal icon, whereas games like Dragalia Lost of Granblue Fantasy clearly use different currencies.
The biggest issue, for me, is the performance. I run the game on a tablet, which isn’t the best, but is better than a lot of phones. But I’m getting <15fps. Probably <10fps. It’s slow enough that there is input delay. And I’m not the only one – if you don’t have a high-tier device, you’re going to have trouble. Really poor optimization, for a game that you want young people to play.
It’s only highlighted the troubles I’ve had with this tablet. I can’t even hardly play Princess Connect sometimes, because the lag is so bad. Maybe it has low RAM, or a crap processor, because it seems the problem is with rendering multiple layers – in PriCon it’s whenever there’s a mist effect, and with DL it’s with the menus swooshing in (almost never have trouble with actual gameplay slowdowns in either game though). I might just be in the market for an Android-enabled Chromebook, because my 5.5yo laptop is also (literally) coming apart. Good thing I didn’t buy a Switch yet, eh?