Pokemon Masters Review (Soft Launch)

Pokemon Masters is out—kinda. There’s a limited soft-launch in Singapore and soon™ Canada, but eager superfans are already playing in other territories via VPNs and the usual tricks. Here you’ll find my evaluation of the game in its current, early state as I’ve completed all the content currently on offer and talked the game over with many other direly impatient Pokemon fans. My efforts to keep things simple has failed—so be ready for a fairly complete look at what the game is like today!

If you wish to play the game or just read up on how it all works in detail, I also have a Pokemon Masters guide on this here site or you can pop in our Discord server to chat about the game!

Editor’s Note: The game’s full release is upon us! The final release fixes a couple of bugs, changes gem prices slightly, adds 5 free trainers to the roster, and has a minor intro event with some similarly minor rewards. It’s nothing that really affects my judgement of the game, so I’ll be leaving the rest of the review as-is.

What Is Pokemon Masters?

Pokemon Masters is perhaps a Gachapon Mobage-style mobile game first, and a Pokemon game second. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but rather I mean that this game was clearly designed to reinforce its goal of being an accessible, stand-alone mobile title before all else. A few tried-and-true Pokemon design choices and rules have been left behind in this process—which occasionally makes things a little confusing for long-time players.

Instead of catching Pokemon, this time around you’re “scouting” for Sync Pairs; a Trainer and Pokemon pair that you actually use to battle. All battles are 3v3 in Pokemon Masters, so you can choose 3 trainers and their Pokemon . Sync Pairs aren’t like normal Pokemon ; not all unevolved Pokemon can evolve to their final form, and Types are tied more to Trainer than they are to the Pokemon; most dual type Pokemon are single type, all pokemon only have a single weakness, and resistances and immunities don’t generally exist.

janine & Ariados pokemon masters
Yep, it’s Gachapon

Pokemons’ Stat growth and Base Power for Moves are also freely re-balanced, moves are tied to a Sync Pair and can’t be changed. There’s no IVs (thank Arceus) or EVs, level 100 is level 100. It’s a drastic overhaul but mostly results in a smoother, simpler experience still largely recognizable as Pokemon. It also offers a balance setup more similar to the usual mobile gachapon-fests; a Treecko can be stronger than a Serperior because they say so, that’s why.

There’s no PVP (possibly a blessing due to power creep and other pay to win nonsense common to these games), but there is co-op play unlocked after beating most of the main story.

3v3? Yeah, You Know Me

pokemon masters combat
Ingame battle

The best thing about the game is definitely the battle format. It’s close to a mix of Rotation and Triple Battles from the main series, but all Pokemon can be hit and target other Pokemon at once; nothing only targets “adjacent” creatures. Pokemon’s moves  charge in “real time” but attacks are still cued up for an almost-turn-based battle closer to Final Fantasy’s famous ATB system.

The 3 Pokemon simultaneous match up offers strategic possibilities beyond the usual on-on-one fights, without the more time intensive complications of a full team 6 versus 6 one-at-a-time style of traditional Pokemon . And more importantly, many new “Trainer Moves” were added to the game with the 3v3 format in mind, adding many buffs that hit the whole party. Skills like this are pretty rare in the mainline games.

As a long-time Pokemon fan it does bother me just how much the AI cheats though; in the mainline games you’re always fighting “real” Pokemon that you could have on your own team right down to the moves and stats. In Pokemon Masters however, enemy Sync Pairs have extremely overpowered Sync Moves (but charge them much more slowly than you usually do) that hit the whole team and often include a Haze effect to remove your buffs. It’s something that would be fun for raid bosses, but feels excessive and cheap in regular battles. It really reduces the feeling of fair competition that’s very big in Pokemon, both in gameplay and story.

All in all I really enjoy the new format, and I really hope Pokemon Sword and Shield will offer a variation of it for play. Addition of online co-op battles to Pokemon is also very welcome. I’ve often wished I could play Battle Tree etc. in Co-op, but only local play has been offered so far, and the peak of having local friends with the latest Pokemon release was grade school for me.

Little Story, Lots of Personality

Continue reading “Pokemon Masters Review (Soft Launch)”

Pokemon Masters Guide, Strategy & All Sync Pairs List

Pokemon Masters is a new mobile Pokemon gashapon RPG, out now worldwide for iOS and Android! In this Pokemon Masters Guide you’ll find strategy, gameplay, and Sync Pair information, as well as common questions about the game.

Though this guide was created during the location test, I’ve confirmed nothing has changed (except IAP prices and some new units) so consider it fully up to date for launch! Feel free to ask questions or contribute information in the comments, discus the game in our Discord server, or add to our Sync Pair Spreadsheet!

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You can support me and my guides monthly on Patreon (and score some rewards like cute cat pictures)! The more I earn the more time I can spend on improving guides like this. My PayPal is a thing too if you can’t do monthly subscriptions.

Updates

Pokemon Masters Game Info

Title: Pokemon Masters
Platform: Android, iOS 
Language: English, Japanese
Release date: 2019-08-28
Developer: DeNA Co. Ltd.
Publisher: Pokemon Company
Price: F2P with microtransactions and gachapon
File Size: 1.33 GB fully installed
Genre: 3v3 Gachapon real-time RPG

Events

Rock Type Training

Trash

Guaranteed 5 Star Scout

This is bait, IMO. It’s paid gem only, and for the 3000 paid gems to get 10 units + 1 5 star, you could have pulled 30 free daily sync pairs instead (expected value 2.1 5 star units).

Launch Celebration Special Rally

Dates: 2019-08-29 through 2019-10-16

A basic event, you simply need to win 5 Co-Op battles and complete Story Mode to earn rewards. Completing all missions gets you 10 Big Pearls. Should be very easy to complete, if minimally rewarding.

There are no Event stages in Explore nor Event Exchanges in the shop.

Pokemon Masters FAQ

Where Are Gym Leader Notes?

To get your first Gym Leader Notes, fight Hard mode of any Co-Op story mode stage, after Chapter 11. Single player will not work.

Very Hard Supercourses drop them too, but they’re vastly harder and ideally require level 90+ pokemon. Supercourses are the best way to get them after you have 1-3 pokemon Max Level Capped.

How Do I Evolve (Pokemon)?

If you’re asking, odds are you can’t. The great majority of Sync Pairs in Pokemon Masters simply do not evolve. A rare few do, including free characters Rosa and Barry, and other units in the Gachapon noted with an icon. Get your pokemon above level 35 (stage 1) or 50 (stage 2) to see if it evolves. If no Sync Story unlocks for evolution, that pokemon does not evolve, ever.

Note that Evolution Stones are very rare and consider not evolving pokemon you may never use, contrary as that may be to Pokemon instincts. Since Launch they increased the cost of evolving, making it extremely prohibitive.

Where are Red and Blue?

Not in the game yet. Blue will have a Gachapon banner starting september 4th. Red is currently MIA but will surely be added in the future, as well most famous trainers. These games always release favorites slowly to keep people interested.

How Do I Get Star Power Ups?

Star Power Ups are the items that raise a character from 3* to 5* etc. But they’re effectively not in the game at least for now. You can only get them by pulling 6+ of the same unit from the gachapon, a feat that would cost several hundred dollars bare minimum, probably over $1000 total.

Hopefully they’ll be event items eventually, they effectively do not exist at present.

How do I complete “Getting Stronger With Gear”?

Beat Chapter 18 Co-Op hard mode to unlock the gear feature, and the Very Hard stages of Co-Op.

Why Am I so Weak!

If you’re neglecting Training Courses you’re going to be extremely underleveled and behind on Move/Level Cap items. They’re your ticket to grinding. If you haven’t completed the story yet, there’s also probably multiple features you haven’t unlocked yet.

How Does Pokemon Masters play?

Continue reading “Pokemon Masters Guide, Strategy & All Sync Pairs List”