Folks, a new gacha game that I’ve been looking forward to is out. No, unfortunately it isn’t SINoALICE, but it’s something more familiar to people. It’s Pokemon Masters, a brand new gacha game based on Pokemon that puts more emphasis on the trainers that fans of the series have come to know and love. Now, I’m not really much of a Pokemon player, I’m one of those fellows that just likes the fanart. But I am a gacha game player, so I’ve decided to dive right in.
Pokemon Masters takes you to the artificial island of Pasio, where the Pokemon Masters League is being held. You are greeted to Pasio by Blue, which I guess parallels how his old man greets you in Red/Blue and you can make a player avatar here. While you can change your character a bit, you can’t change your partner Pokemon, who of course is a Pikachu.
So, one of the gimmicks of Pokemon Masters is that you don’t walk around with a proper team. Each person can only have one Pokemon out at a time and together, they are a Sync Pair. Instead, trainers like yourself have to team up with two other Sync Pairs and everybody fights in 3-on-3 battles.
And of course this is a Pokemon game, so it’s gotta bait the Gen 1 crowd, so your first two free Sync Pairs are Brock and Misty, who are paired with Onix and Starmie respectively. They join up with you with no strings attached and want to go out to bring another Sync Pair into their fold.
We head to the city where we find our future Sync Pair, Rosa and Snivy. She’s hanging out with fan favorite character Cynthia and they’re being bugged by the fearsome combination of a jock and a goth. For some reason, they think they can take Cynthia on despite being a bunch of jobbers.
You, Brock and Misty decide to fight them in their honor and we head into our first battle! So, I actually haven’t see game footage, so I was surprised that gameplay is an active-turn battle system. You switch between characters to throw out attacks while other members still have their attacks on cooldown. Attacks use up bars that your whole team draws from that slowly fill up below, so you can’t just spam attacks. And of course it’s Pokemon, so you got elemental weaknesses to account for, the works. It’s an easy to understand battle system, though it’s a bit slow, so I recommend speeding it up.
You know that this game is wish fulfillment because Cynthia is totally impressed that you beat these losers. Not impressed enough to join your posse, but Rosa’s still up if you beat her in a battle. It’s also here in this longer fight where we learn about Sync Moves, where if your team collectively does a certain number of attacks, any one of them can use a Sync Move, which is basically a limit break. Rosa uses one to annihilate Misty’s Starmie, but that doesn’t save her from losing.
Along with Rosa and Starmie, we get a quick tutorial on Sync Pair scoutings, which is the gacha draw of the game. I got Whitney and her Milktank, who… actually kinda sucks? Her Milktank’s Body Slam is strong, but you’d probably prefer just playing the elemental game; she’s got a buff, but it’s just to boost Milktank’s speed and not the whole team. The curse of being a normal type Pokemon….
Anyway, Rosa also wants to introduce you to Barry and his Piplup, who are hanging at the beach. Before we can talk to him however, we run into a bunch of masked people. The two on the left look professional while the last one looked like she was on vacation before deciding to help her friends harass people.
We fight them and we run into Barry. Okay, so the narrative says that he’s impulsive, but that’s stretching the suspension of disbelief. The guy mistakes the gang as members of the evil team we just fought, Team Break, despite the lack of masks and also Rosa yelling at him who she is. He’s kind of a dumbass. But also he’s got a tough Piplup and he’s actually out here using buffs.
He doesn’t realize he’s wrong until after a full battle. Barry’s decided to go on a crusade against Team Break, who’s out here doing the standard Evil Pokemon Team routine of bullying people into giving them their Pokemon. He’s probably doing a bad job at it considering what just happened, so the gang tags along.
We head to a cave that Team Break is using as a hideout. It also becomes apparent that the masks are Team Break’s only uniform, as they’re stuck on the faces of some trainer models we’ve seen before. You know, you’d think that someone should infiltrate Team Break by wearing one of their masks. While fighting these nerds we meet an OC, Paulo, who’s set up to be the game’s rival and another friend in fighting Team Break. I think this guy’s design is cute, so I diagnose him with gay.
We head back to Pasio’s center where we meet the founder of Pasio and the Pokemon Masters League, Lear, along with his cronies, Rachel and Sawyer. Because he’s rich, Lear’s just kind of an asshole for no reason.
Anyway, I decided to take a break from the main story to check out some Sync Pair Stories, which are sets of scenes revolving around members of your crew. They don’t have a lot of depth to them, but they’re nice to have and I kinda get the implication that each character will get more sync stories in the future.
Brock invites you to go train with him and Onix and they head out to a forest, as he prefers to train with his Pokemon in big open spaces. As an experienced gym leader, he talks about his experiences of being a rooky like your character that rose up the ranks. You know, inspiring mentor stuff.
Whitney is playing around with her Miltank and she talks about how she came to know her Miltank. Her Pokemon introduced herself to her by trying to roll into her when she was visiting her ranch as a test of strength. Whitney had fun with that even though a cow suddenly trying to roll into you is kinda terrifying, so she ended up adopting her Miltank so that she can go see the world.
Over on the beach, you come across a Team Break member that’s trying to take the beach for herself and Tepig. Then Misty shows up, scaring her off because of the whole type disadvantage thing. She talks about her Starmie, revealing that it isn’t her normal Starmie. While facing trouble raising this one, she sticks by this Starmie much like how she’ll stick up for rookie trainers like you.
Rosa’s story references the movie stuff in Pokemon B/W 2 and you find her practicing her acting skills by pretending to be Blue. She considers the idea of acting like other trainers to get a better understanding of how they fight. And also, this Snivy, she’s so fucking smug, I love her. I don’t love that smug thinking expression Rosa sometimes does though. I’ve already seen it used by that part of Anime Avatar twitter.
You’re walking through town when Barry bumps into you. Like a normal person, he tries to fine you but ends up admitting that it’s a stupid idea. However, he does want to make money in hopes of building his own Battle Tower like his dad did, so that he can one day defeat his dad with his own tower. He also talks about some other dreams and can’t really focus on one, which is a big mood. I respect you now, Barry.
It is 3 am, so I’ve decided to stop playing here. I got chapter 3 unlocked along with a Training Area. How is this game so far? It’s pretty okay, don’t really feel the need to do some gacha pulls right now. The Sync Pair Stories can stand to be more fleshed out and I wish that missions gave a recommended strength level so you’d know what you’re getting into, but overall, Pokemon Masters is okay.