Pokemon Masters Review


It’s time to look at Nintendo’s latest mobile adventure. Pokémon is one of those series that can really sell well so it makes sense to jump into the market. Just look at Pokémon Go after all. Unfortunately, this one does make some errors along the way which prevent it from being the ultimate title it could be. Still, it’s a great experience and one you may find yourself sticking with for a long time.

The basic plot of the game is that a big tournament has been announced which is called the PML. It is a 3 on 3 tournament with each trainer choosing one buddy Pokémon to team with in this grand adventure. The main character is a new trainer who has been steadily improving his skills. He quickly impressed gym leaders and elite four members and is one of the favorites to win the tournament. Of course to qualify he must first get all of the gym badges and then it’s off to the races.

The story is pretty good. I am glad that the game already covers grabbing all of the badges and the tournament has even begun. I am wondering how the game will stretch this story out for years like the other mobile games. Either we will keep fighting old teams who jump ship or Team Break will interrupt the tournament at some point. One thing that the game could have made clearer are the rules for the tournament though. Originally as it is a 3 on 3 tournament you assume that losing knocks a team out as you proceed. Instead when you beat a team their members are allowed to join you. That means you’re stuck in a lengthy loop if everyone keeps rejoining teams. I feel like once you have lost you should be eliminated from the tournament. By the end of the current campaign the main team may have up to 60+ teams which is pretty insane. This tournament definitely doesn’t seem all that balanced.

The characters also bring up a valid point about how the tournament organizer’s plan doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t believe in friendship or bonds so why did he make a tournament where it’s mandatory to have both of those? It just seems a little odd to be honest. Maybe it’s just his chance to beat all the opponents and prove that the bonds were fake, but it’s a pretty roundabout strategy.

Now when it comes to the soundtrack this game is top notch. It’s comprised of a bunch of awesome remixes for previous battle themes from games of all previous generations. Not a single one is left out and they are all quite catchy. I dare say that the soundtrack is one of the best parts of the game. I ended up turning off the special effect sounds and voices so I could focus on the music. A lot of these remixes even beat the originals. Then you’ve got the graphics which are quite incredible. This does not look like a mobile game and could hold its own with the mainline titles. The character models are on point and there is some actual voice acting so the game did get a good amount of effort out behind it.

I haven’t spoken about the gameplay much yet. It’s a turn based style similar to the main games only you’ve got a meter that lets you know when you can attack again. This way you are more focused on coordinating your attack strategies quickly instead of waiting for the opponent to make a move. Weak moves only take one bar of energy while the stronger ones take 3. Usually anything weaker than 3 is not worth using. Support abilities are crucial though so definitely bring those into play. The gameplay is easy to get the hang of so you should be fine.

There is a lot of content in the game aside from the story. (and the story is fairly long as it is) Every day you get 3 extra levels with 3 difficulties that you can play 3 times each for a lot of items which are used to raise your level cap. You’ve also got the permanent ones which you can play all day to further stockpile your materials. Each character you recruit comes with an extra mission that is basically a long cutscene. Leveling up each character is quick, but they’ve got multiple caps which can only be broken with a considerable amount of materials. Once you have to get the gym notes you are really going to be stuck for a while since you have to beat incredibly hard levels. These levels cannot be beaten on your own so you’ll have to jump into the online content which the game seems to be heavily pushing.

Unfortunately the online is the weakest part of the game so it’s too bad that it’s effectively mandatory. The online matches take forever because the speed is set to 1. I always have it set to 4 to make the matches go a lot quicker so by comparison 1 feels like we are moving at turtle speed. Even then the gym notes aren’t guaranteed so you’re starting to see the grind. This game definitely has a ton of grinding within it if you want to go far. I played for well over 15 hours and didn’t even get a single gym note. You need around 3-5 just to unlock the cap again.

The good news is that there is no energy meter so you can really play the game for as long as you want. Some speculate that this is why there is so much grinding and I suppose that makes sense. Still, I think the game overdoes it with the grinding. After you’ve beaten the main story up to the current update then it becomes really apparent just how much grinding you are expected to do. So, it’s definitely a tradeoff.

It’s still an addicting game of course, but one that could use more of an end game. It does feel noticeably emptier once you have beaten the main story and I know that I would never be all that thrilled about the multiplayer stuff. I like fighting other players but the co-op option won’t work if the speed is stuck to 1. Maybe that will change down the road. I imagine that this is the kind of game that will only get better and better as it goes on so there is a lot to be hopeful about here.

Overall, Pokemon Masters is definitely a great game. It’s got some flaws, but they are not enough to overcome the smooth gameplay and top tier music/graphics. This is a game that big Pokemon fans will get a kick out of for the story as well. It’s nice to see all of the classic characters again and in particular the team up with the Black & White main characters was really nice. I’m sure that when Red shows up that will be a powerful moment as well. This game will probably last years so maybe in a decade or so I’ll check back in and see how far the story has gone.

Overall 8/10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at an app game I downloaded a while back. I remember seeing this one as a twitter ad and figured that I may as well check it out. The posters looked nice and the Madoka series has always been excellent so I was down with seeing what the side story would be like. It’s a fun game that I would probably stick with if there was less to do, but from what I played it is a very complete title.

The game’s story follows a girl named Iroha on her own magical girl adventure. There are a lot of parallels to the show as she meets up with a very aloof magical girl who’s like Homura, a happy one dressed in yellow like Mami, a tough red colored one like Kyoka, etc. So…the story isn’t very original I’ll admit. Iroha’s memories are all in disarray as she doesn’t remember her childhood friends and this seems to directly be related to whatever wish she made with Kyubey to become a magical girl. Iroha wants to find out the secrets of her past, but she doesn’t have any idea how to do that. It may be related to a mystical law of forsaken friendships. As Iroha tries to find out about her past she also helps other magical girls learn to get along and beats up witches in the process.

With these gatcha games you never want to get too invested in the plot because it’s just never going to finish. These games are made to basically never end or if they do end it won’t be for many years. America actually got this game real late so in Japan there are a bunch of sagas out but even there the story isn’t over yet. You just gotta roll with the premise and then get ready for a bunch of inevitable filler. Still, if the adventures are fun then that’s not a problem. I thought the story was pretty reasonable. By default it’s the weakest RPG plot I’ve experienced in the mobile, but the filler isn’t quite as tedious as in Integral Factor. At the very least you always feel like things are happening.

We also do get a true opening that is fully animated which was really cool. The visuals are definitely on point and the soundtrack is awesome even if a little limited. You’ll be hearing the witch theme endlessly but it’s just so catchy and epic that it’ll rope you in. It makes every fight feel epic even if you’re just fighting the same old guys over and over again. The chapters follow a classic formula of fighting 3-5 waves of minions before you get the next round of cutscenes. On a technical level this game definitely shines through.

The gameplay is also very easy to use. You pick one of 3 attack types for each of your 3 characters and then take down the opposing forces. Using the same kind of attack more than once can give you a bonus and naturally there are also elements to keep in mind. You won’t really have to worry about tactics in story mode as at least where I was up to it was very easy. I imagine in PVP or other online modes that it would be a lot more important. The gameplay is very intricate if you are trying to master it though. There are a ton of mechanics which I barely even scratched the surface on. I recommend a lot of studying when you’re first starting up the game.

That’s the only tough part about the mobile RPGs. There are so many things to remember and keep track of. I managed to learn it all for Dragon Ball Legends and Fire Emblem, but I’m sure if I went back I probably wouldn’t remember it as well. The main menu screens are downright confusing here as there are over a dozen different kinds of things to collect and they all have different purposes. You can get lost trying to find things here and since the game barely explains anything you’ll want to run to Reddit right away. Reddit’s always a great database for these mobile games if there is something that you need to know. My main advice is if you do plan on playing this for the long haul, don’t spend or buy anything for the first month or 2. That’ll give you time to really understand the game rather than spending collectibles on things you’ll never actually use. Make sense? It’s definitely something I do with all my mobile games now even though I don’t tend to keep any of them for the long haul except for Pokemon Go.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a fun RPG for fans of Madoka or people who just like this style. As with most mobile games like this one there is almost endless replay value. New events happen every week and the story is extremely long as well. There’s a lot to like here and the game was developed with a lot of care so there are no areas that feel slapped together. It would take a lot to keep me in a mobile game for very long though and while I love the franchise, I am overall still a bigger fan of FE and Dragon Ball. If you’re a big fan of Madoka though this is really a solid one for you to stick with for a while. One big thing here is that it’s a free to play with an energy meter that is almost nonexistent. Unless you are playing this for many hours at a time you won’t have a problem with being told by the game to take a break for a while. This is the kind of Free to Play game that does the industry proud.

Overall 7/10