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Pokémon Masters

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Pokémon Masters App Poster Image
Fun, fresh Pokémon adventure for fans new and old.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The basic gameplay mechanics are easy to pick up and play, and should feel instantly familiar to anyone that's had a Pokémon battle before. Some stats seem to have little effect on battle, though, making matchups more trial and error with a bit of luck tossed in.

Violence & Scariness

Pokémon battles are the focus of the game, so there's a small level of violence. But attacks are mainly shown as big, flashy effects. Defeated Pokémon are simply knocked out and disappear from the screen into their owners' pokéball.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The game's a spinoff of the immensely popular Pokémon franchise, which includes games, cartoons, movies, toys, and just about everything else imaginable. It's a free-to-play game, but one frustrating element is that "unpaid gems" earned through gameplay are separate from "paid gems," which can shut out some content unless players spend money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pokémon Masters is a free-to-play mobile Pokémon battle game available for download on iOS and Android devices. Players recruit trainer and Pokémon "sync pairs," building teams to take into battle against other teams. Battles are the central focus of the game, with Pokémon using a variety of abilities to fight each other. But the violence is mild and cartoonish in nature, with defeated opponents simply disappearing from the screen and shown to be tired rather than injured. Although the game's free-to-play, there's a heavy push for players to spend money on in-game currency that can be traded for special items or to recruit new sync pairs.

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What's it about?

POKÉMON MASTERS takes trainers on a brand-new adventure, joining up with friends new and old for competition unlike any they've had before. The artificial island of Pasio is home to the newly established Pokémon Masters League, a tournament that brings Gym Leaders, Champions, and even members of the Elite Four together with all-star trainers from every region around the globe to battle with and against each other in 3v3 team battles. Each trainer must partner with one Pokémon to form a "sync pair," recruiting other sync pairs to their PML team. One by one, you'll need to challenge PML Leaders scattered throughout Pasio to earn the five badges you need to fight in the PML Championship.

Is it any good?

While the Pokémon franchise is no stranger to mobile apps, with games like Pokémon GO! and Pokémon Rumble Rush, this is the first game to really feel like a complete experience for fans. Pokemon Masters has a solid story that unfolds over time, fleshing out brand-new characters and revisiting classic favorites in fun ways that feel like a natural progression of the overall Pokémon odyssey. The story even manages to successfully explain away the "Gotta Catch 'Em All" mentality of the main games in favor of recruiting "sync pairs" of individual trainers and their partner Pokémon. It makes sense that players are taking their closest (and most well-known) partners into this unique tournament.

The folks behind Pokémon Masters have done a fantastic job of capturing the look and the feel of the Pokémon Universe. Characters look and sound like they've been pulled straight from the cartoons. They all have a wide range of personalities, with glimpses into their individual stories that's just enough to raise players' interests. Battles are quick and easy to play, but still require a certain level of strategic thinking. Players need to manage things like strength and weaknesses in their team makeup, as well as thoughtful use of how and when the use their Pokémon's skills. Unfortunately, the one thing holding Pokemon Masters back from being its very best, like no one ever was, is its frustrating in-game economy. While you can earn gems through standard gameplay, these are kept separate from gems that you pay money for, meaning certain items can only be obtained by spending money on one of a handful of overpriced bundles. If you can separate this money driven mechanic, though, you'll find a great adventure just fingertips from your phone or tablet.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about commercialism in entertainment. How are various games, toys, cartoons, etc., used to promote sales of certain franchises? For example, can movies drive you to buy more toys, or to play more games by building a familiar universe?

  • How do "free-to-play" games use in-app purchases to generate more revenue? At what point do these purchases become either essential for play or too costly for the average player?

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For kids who love Pokémon

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