There were Pokemon games on mobile devices before Pokemon Go arrived, and several have been released in the years since, but none have had even a fraction of the impact as Niantic’s mega-hit. That might change this week, as DeNA and The Pokemon Company have teamed up for a new game called Pokemon Masters.
Pokemon Masters follows trainers who visit the artificial island of Pasio to compete in the Pokemon Masters League, which consists of a series of 3-on-3 tournaments where every trainer can only bring one Pokemon to battle. Unlike in other Pokemon games, instead of catching Pokemon, your goal is to team up with other trainers and their Pokemon (these are known as “sync pairs”) so you can be prepared for any challenge that awaits you.
Having spent about an hour with the game, I was pleasantly surprised by how fluid the combat feels. Pokemon Go prioritizes catching Pokemon, but in Pokemon Masters, you’ll spend a vast majority of your time battling. Battles are similar to those from the mainline Pokemon games, but they’re real-time rather than turn-based, which means you have to be on your toes throughout the battle. It takes some getting used to, but it’s fun.
Fans of Pokemon Go who don’t have any real affinity for the original Pokemon games might not be all that interested in Pokemon Masters, but I’ve found it to be a pleasant surprise so far. There will definitely be some grinding to do as the main story progresses in order to get all of my sync pairs leveled up to compete with more difficult trainers, but I haven’t run into any timers, so I can play to my heart’s content without being pressured to spend money.
But this is a free-to-play game, and if you want to acquire new sync pairs faster, you can always purchase a few gems (the game’s premium currency) to spend at the shop. Pokemon Masters is available right now on the App Store and Google Play, but you will need a Nintendo Account to sign in.