Pokemon Go players have been eagerly awaiting a long-rumored update that could eventually add the ability to go head-to-head with other Pokemon trainers. Now, the Pokemon Company is finally letting us fight with other Pokemon fanatics via iPhone and Android, but it had nothing to do with Pokemon Go. The company just launched an all-new Pokemon game for iOS and Android called Pokemon Duel (Android), and it’s free to play.
Unlike Pokemon Go, where the app does its best to pretend that Pokemon are actual creatures, Pokemon Duel‘s characters are simply small Amiibo-like figures. You assemble your figures like a deck and then compete against other players in a strategy-heavy board game, where the little toys take each other out with their signature moves. Each team is comprised of six Pokemon, and a built-in AI will attempt to give you the best chance at winning by choosing the right moves.
As you might imagine with the game being free-to-play, there are special items and buffs you can gain via an in-game economy system that relies on “gems” for purchases. The boosts are timed and last for specific lengths after activation, so if you spend one you’re silently encouraged to play as much as possible within its activation window.
It seems like a solid little deck-building game, and the board game strategy elements help separate it from the rest of collectible card game genre, but it’s definitely not much of a consolation prize for any Pokemon Go diehards still holding out hope that true Pokemon battles are coming.