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Pokémon Masters on the phone transforms collecting Pokémon into a microtransaction

Since Nintendo's expansion to mobile devices four years ago, we've seen a number of unusual experiments, including games with popular flagship characters, but filled to the brim with microtransactions. And Pokémon Masters the last mobile title in the monster capturing series that was announced last month is no exception.

The game was developed by Japanese mobile phone company DeNA, the same company that helped Nintendo develop mobile versions for popular franchise companies like Super Mario Animal Crossing and Mario Kart . For the first time, this is a Nintendo-linked track released by DeNA and not by Nintendo itself. (The company's representative quickly pointed out that Nintendo owns 1

0 percent of DeNA and a third of The Pokémon Company, thereby indirectly affecting some Pokémon properties, even though none of its employees work on the Title.)

The title most similar to Pokémon Masters is Fire Emblem Heroes the iOS and Android game DeNA, which was developed in collaboration with Intelligent Systems and published in 2017. For longtime Pokémon fans who are expecting something more traditional, this may be a surprise bad thing. Earlier this month, I got hold of Pokémon Masters for a quick demo and saw first-hand how DeNA developed the monetization and collection systems of this free game. It is relatively fair as long as you are willing to accept that micro-transactions are central to the experience.

First of all, if you are displaced by traditional Japanese "Gacha" elements, you will not like Pokémon Masters . Gacha is a loot-style mechanic named after random toy machines in Japan. In the Asian mobile market, this is a common method of monetization. Like Fire Emblem Heroes based on Gacha core elements, this special Pokémon mobile game revolves around collecting characters at various levels of rarity and sometimes paying for them more can be unlocked frequently. But unlike traditional Pokémon games, these characters you collect are coaches, not just the title creatures.

In Pokémon Masters, each Pokémon is paired with a particular coach from one of the core games of the franchise which is referred to in the game as a synchronization pair. So if you want to fight with a particular creature, you need to unlock the associated trainer. Think of Brock and his rock partner Onix, Misty and the Water Pokémon Starmie and Red (the protagonist of the first pair of Pokémon games) and his fire-breathing friend Charizard. All are unlockable and playable characters in the game.

Unlocking can be done in several ways. You can buy in-game currencies and head to a larger collection of coaches. You can also spend a reduced amount of another currency that you can earn once a day in the game to unlock a character of your choice. And finally, you can fight in story mode and then include coaches and the associated Pokémon in your list.

The story mode itself is similar to Fire Emblem Heroes where you end up in battles with small, dialogue-intensive cutscenes progressing into battles. DeNA created her own story for playing with some original characters on a new island called Pasio, and you play a unique male or female character that is paired with Pikachu first. The normal features of a Pokémon game are all here: a professor who will assist you in your quest, a rival you must regularly face in the course of history, and a high-profile "master league" in which You have to compete.

Fighting is the only outstanding element, with a turn-based style reminiscent of the core games of Pokémon and neat custom animations, but with simplified movement phrases that make it more like by Pokémon Let & # 39; s go make in practice. You usually play as a trio of coaches, each of whom has a unique Pokémon to switch between, and each Pokémon has a special move that you can use if you've charged a meter in the course of the fight. You can also combine abilities when playing against other human players or AI opponents in co-op mode.

Image: DeNA

There are some other noteworthy subtleties. Ascending requires the use of a currency that is different from the currency you can buy to unlock characters. The same goes for the evolution that allows you to transform your Pokémon to a certain level after completing a particularly difficult chapter and using the required mix of elements. (There seems to be about a dozen different types of collectable currencies and resources that can be spent on a number of items in the game, new Pokémon moves, and other unlockable items.)

In particular, there is no stamina indication, according to DeNA You play the game as many times as you like without having to spend a currency or wait for a timer. DeNA informs me that at the start a total of 65 sync pairs have to be collected. More will be added later. These cover the upcoming Sword and Shield titles appearing in November. Gathering each individual character should not be nearly as intense as in Fire Emblem Heroes at least as good as I could say in my brief time with the title.

This may not be the long-sought Pokémon mobile game that people have been asking for since the beginning of the smartphone era. But it is unique enough to distinguish it from its mobile counterpart Pokémon Go with enough elements and story threads of the core series to make it a much better experience over the limited puzzle and board game to make options that existed before Nintendo was paired with DeNA for the first time more than four years ago.

DeNA will not say when Pokémon Masters will be released on iOS and Android, but the company is keeping a Summer 2019 window for release. That means it's likely to come into the mobile business sometime next month.

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