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Video Game / Pokémon Masters

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Pokémon Masters is a 2019 mobile game in the Pokémon series that was released for Android and iOS devices on August 28th, 2019, produced in cooperation between The Pokémon Company and DeNA, the same company who co-developed with Nintendo for mobile games based on their existing franchises.

Masters takes place on the artificial island of Pasio, where the Pokémon Masters League is being held: a grand tournament that invites Trainers from the world over to compete against each other. In Pasio, Trainers form Sync Pairs, a duo between a Trainer and a single Pokémon, and ally with other Sync Pairs to compete in 3v3 Pokémon battles. You are placed in the shoes of one such Trainer, who arrives on Pasio and quickly befriends Kanto Gym Leaders Brock and Misty. To gain entry to the PML, the player and their allies set out to collect five Badges held by particularly strong Trainers scattered across the island, and along the way add some familiar faces to your party on the journey to conquer the PML. However, during their journey they will have to contend with some particularly powerful foes: Lear, resident Jerkass and the creator of Pasio, and the villainous Team Break, a band of masked thieves who steal Pokémon from other Trainers.


The game enables players to form teams using famous Pokémon Trainers from past main-series games. The concept originated from Game Freak character designer and founding member Ken Sugimori, who had the idea for a game where every single character from past games would appear.

The game has a four-minute animated trailer.

This game provides examples of:

  • Allegedly Free Game: The game has a premium currency in the form of Gems, which can only be used to buy more sync pairs from the gacha system. Gems can be obtained at a fairly steady rate by playing through missions and battles, so it doesn't pressure you to spend real money just for a chance at obtaining a new Sync Pair. You can also exchange coins for gems. Everything else in the game, such as battle items, can be easily obtained as quest rewards or by grinding up coins to buy with. The game even lets you set a hard cap on the amount of gems you can buy at any given period of time, and differentiates between gems that were purchased and gems obtained through play. You can't use earned gems to purchase daily discounted sync offers, but the story itself hooks you up with a good handful of trainers just for playing through it.
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  • Always Accurate Attack: The Piercing Gaze ability ensures the user will never miss with their moves.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The characters you earn in the story are recommended for the next chapter. Your Pikachu and Rosa's Snivy are super effective against Barry and Piplup, who will be helpful against Flannery's Torkoal, who will be useful against Erika's grass-type, etc.
    • Special items called Evolution Shards are required in order to take part in the Evolution Stories. If you fail the story, you get the Shards back, so you can try again immediately without having to buy more of them.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Downplayed, in that there is no actual game mechanic that forces a player to put down and stop playing the game after a given amount of time. However, the characters are aware of the time, and will suggest that you go get some sleep if it gets too late. Likewise, they also greet you in the morning. Whitney will greet you with the regret of her staying up too late and not getting enough sleep.
  • Badass in Distress: The tutorial starts with a Punk Girl and a Street Thug harassing Sinnoh League Champion Cynthia and challenging her to a battle. Cynthia claims that her and her Garchomp are too exhausted from recent battles to take up their offer, and Rosa protests that they can't just challenge her whenever they want. It's up to you, Brock, and Misty to put them in their place.
  • Boring, but Practical: Rapid-firing cheap moves and/or support skills to mill through the Sync Move counter faster can help if you need to get your Sync Move out before the opponent.
  • But Thou Must!: ...say Yes to letting story-mandated characters like Rosa or Flannery join your team. When Rosa asks if you were reconsidering your offer for her to join your team, your options are "Nah, we'll be counting on you", and "Nope, welcome to the team."
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Averted. There's nothing stopping you from switching out you and your Pikachu for other trainers as soon as you're allowed to edit your team, and in most cases it's actively encouraged in order to take advantage of type effectiveness.
  • Combatant Cooldown System: Pokemon can only use moves when enough of the team’s shared move gauge has filled over time.
  • Combination Attack: In co-op, when you and your allies attack in succession without the opponent getting a move in enough times, you trigger a Unity Attack, in which everyone teams up for a powerful strike on an opponent.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Well, it is Pokémon. Most enemies will have sync moves that can hit your whole party and remove all of your stat boosts, and if you fight certain trainers from the gacha, they'll have their Pokémon evolved, whether the gacha trainer is able to or not, such as enemy Phoebes with Dusknoir instead of Dusclops or Lt. Surges with Electrode, rather than Voltorb. Opponents often also charge their Sync Moves in far fewer actions than the player, though this is balanced out by giving the computer relatively low APM. To its credit, the game does sometimes provide disclaimers that the AI opponents' capabilities do not reflect their playable versions.
  • Continuity Nod: A lot.
    • One of the random trainers who can show up in the Pokémon Center is a Black Belt who talks about how he used to be a security guard for a gift shop and is now scared of Hyper Beams. He's the poor man who Lance ordered Dragonite to attack at Mahogany Town back in Pokémon Gold and Silver.
    • Brendan reminisces about watching the stars with May, as they do after the end credits of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. He also says her eyes were pretty like stars.
    • Rosa talks about how she had some roles in movies filmed at Pokéstar Studios, and she still tries to keep up on her acting skills even now. For extra fun, Snivy's evolution mission has Brycen showing up in-character as Brycen-Man to challenge her, complete with a Zoroark.
    • Drake refers to Mr. Briney as his "old friend" several times, something that was previously established in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
    • When chatting in the Pokémon Center, Gym Leaders will occasionally mention other Pokémon of theirs that they left behind at the Gyms. These other Pokémon are always ones that the Leaders did in fact use in Gym battles in the original games.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: While bosses are not necessarily immune to status conditions unless they have a passive which prevents specific ones, later ones tend to have passive abilities which makes it so that they heal from them quicker than player characters.
  • Cool Mask: All members of Team Break wear one. Unlike other villainous teams, Team Break doesn't have a standard uniform, so this is the only way to identify their members.
  • Covers Always Lie: Of the seven trainers (minus the player characters) who appear in the game's splash image, only Brock and Rosa are actually playable as of version 1.2. Cynthia and Red have non-playable cameos in the story, and Lance, Diantha, and Steven Stone are nowhere to be found... yet.
  • Cutscene Boss: During Skyla's chapter, a very pissy Lear forces the player into a one-on-one fight against his Krookodile. Lear's Krookodile handily wipes the floor with the player's Pikachu, and he tells you off before he and his posse book it.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: As this game sets out to give characterization to protagonists whose gender, name, and Pokémon are up to player choice, this was inevitable. For example, Masters canon has it that Norman's chid is a boy named Brendan who chose a Treecko as his starter, and the trainer who set out from Aspertia City is a girl named Rosa who partnered with Snivy.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: This game's Female Swimmer class, whose design is recycled from X and Y.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Masters was designed to highlight the human trainers for once, instead of putting the focus on the Pokémon like most spinoff games do.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Although most of the Trainers are already pretty buddy-buddy with each other, you will typically have to beat them in a Pokémon battle before you can obtain their Sync Pair. Although in Barry's case, he mistakes the party for Team Break grunts and challenges you to a fight before Rosa can get a word in.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Main Story mode is this. Early chapters give the players a good challenge to breeze through, but Chapter 5 onwards steep up the difficulty, and it goes harsher during Pokémon Masters League story arcs.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: As of September 2019, Cheren is the final main opponent you can battle on. He teams up with Hilbert and Hilda, and his Stoutland is one of the tankiest Pokémon in game.
  • Dream Match Game: Trainers from across the series are available to recruit and battle.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Much like other Pokémon spin-offs like Pokémon Shuffle, type matchups are greatly streamlined compared to the main series. Pokémon are weak to one type only, but may have attacks of two types. In addition, Pokémon weaknesses are determined on a case-by-case basis instead of being tied to their typing; for example, the Normal difficulty Level Up course features a Slugma (Fire) that is weak to Rock but NOT weak to Water.
  • Exposed to the Elements: In Pryce's story segment, Flannery follows the player, Barry, and Norman around a glacier to look for him, and consequently shivers the entire way due to her attire.
  • Face of a Thug: A thug you encounter in Chapter 10 admits that he has a mean-looking face, so most people run away instead of battling him.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When scouting for sync pairs, you can tell what you're about to get based on the animations of the Poryphone. If an antenna pops up out of the top of your Poryphone during the scouting animation, you're about to roll a 4*. If the antenna folds out into a radar dish, then congratulations: you're about to roll a 5*.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Story-important trainers with Pokémon that can evolve, such as Rosa, will always show up in their first form. This means that Snivy and Piplup will be present with Rosa and Barry, regardless of whether you've already evolved them in your party.
  • The Ghost: Trainers will often talk of friends and other Pokémon of theirs that they left back home, but those characters don't appear in the game (or in a lot of cases, they don't appear yet).
  • Glass Cannon:
    • As in the main series, Korrina's Lucario. Despite having a low starting rarity tier, Lucario sports great offensive pressure, with access to buffs like Dire Hit, Mega Evolution, and Power-Up Punch after Mega Evolving. However, its Defense and Sp. Defense are lackluster, and repeated usage of its strongest move, Close Combat, will quickly whittle away at what measure of defense it has, if any.
    • Even compared to most other Strike-category Sync Pairs, Roark stands out as being all offense. With his attack buffs and his final skill giving him perfect accuracy on his next attack along with a full move gauge, his Cranidos can easily Head Smash things into oblivion, but Head Smash also retains its hideous recoil damage which will inevitably shave off half of Cranidos's health bar or more on each hit.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Story events allow players to temporarily use a featured character, even if they haven't obtained them, in story battles with fixed teams.
  • Healer Signs On Early: Your Player Character and Brock both start with the Potion skill. The first Sync Pair you get from the story after Brock and Misty is Rosa, a Support buffer who has X Sp. Atk All and can learn "Time to Energize" to instantly charge the Move Gauge.
  • Heel Realization: A Swimmer talks about how he can't find any strong Pokémon to capture because someone always interferes with his attempts. Another Swimmer says that there aren't any wild Pokémon on the island, which makes him realize he was actually trying to steal them the whole time and didn't know it.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: A Rising Star's response to a Punk Girl's joke.
    Punk Girl: What keeps Crobat going?
    Rising Star: Hmm... You got me there! I dunno! What keeps a Crobat going?
    Punk Girl: Heh heh... Bat-teries!
    Rising Star: *sigh* And I had such high hopes for that one...
  • Limit Break: Sync Moves are powerful attacks that can be performed by Sync Pairs after completing a certain number of actions. In co-op, chaining enough attacks together will charge a meter and trigger a Unity Attack.
  • Loot Boxes: The game uses a gacha system to scout new Sync Pairs. If you get a repeat of a Sync Pair you already have, their Sync Move will level up and become more powerful (and if the Sync Move is maxed out, you'll get upgrade materials for other trainers instead). The story mode provides a healthy number of free trainers, but some Sync Pairs can only be obtained through scouting them in the shop for gems.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A Youngster that shows up in the Pokemon Center loves to talk about how great and comfortable shorts are to wear, a Running Gag that has persisted throughout franchise.
    • The first trainers who join you are Brock and Misty, just like in the first seasons of the anime. Though in direct contrast to his anime personality, Brock gets nervous when he's in a place with a bunch of pretty girls.
    • When Brock uses his Sync Move he stands shirtless with his arms crossed over his chest, exactly the same as his original sprite in the Generation 1 games.
    • Kris says here she wants to be a researcher. Her Pokémon Adventures counterpart is Professor Oak's aide.
    • According to Brendan, May focuses on Contests, like her anime counterpart.
    • Barry in this game is properly named just like his anime counterpart (see Named by the Adaptation below), and has an Empoleon if you decide to evolve his Piplup twice. Unlike his anime counterpart which comes off as a Butt-Monkey Leeroy Jenkins Satellite Character, he's an Adaptational Nice Guy here.
    • Characters from Alola have Sync Moves named after Z-Moves, unlike other characters who use powered-up normal moves for Sync Moves.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Kris and Barry, who were cases of Hello, [Insert Name Here] in their debut games, are properly named here. In both cases, their first selectable default name became their canon name, the latter being a recursive nod to his anime counterpart.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Just look at the game's character sheet and count the sheer number of trainers who appeared in the trailer but, as of the time of launch, aren't actually in the game. It's easily in the dozens.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: Pokémon models and animations are once again reused from the recent 3DS titles. The trainer models are all built from scratch, each with their own different heights (something usually avoided in mainline games) and extremely detailed animations and expressions.
  • Older Than They Look: Hilbert and Hilda are using their designs from Black and White even though Cheren's design and Rosa being a Trainer show that Black 2 and White 2 has already happened. As a result, even though Hilbert and Hilda are the same age as Cheren they look a couple years younger than him.
  • One Steve Limit: A variation. As of yet, no two Sync Pairs have the same Pokémon as one another. In fact, the Pikachu line is the only evolutionary family with multiple representatives, the player’s Pikachu and Hau’s Alolan Raichu.
  • Play Every Day: There are daily login rewards. The game entices you to log in the next day by telling you what you'll get.
  • Promoted to Playable: Every recruitable Sync Pair not based on one of the playable characters in the main series.
  • Signature Mon: Most trainers in the game are paired up with their most well-known Pokemon. For example: Cynthia has her Garchomp, Red has Charizard, Whitney has her Miltank, and Brock has Onix. A few, however, didn't have a signature to begin with (the most obvious being Factory Heads Noland and Thornton, who don't even have set teams in their home games due to Battle Factory rulesets using random rental Pokémon) or use a Pokémon other than their famous one; for instance Lt. Surge uses a Voltorb instead of his Raichu (likely due to Hau already having dibs on Raichu).
  • Starter Mon: The player character starts out with Pikachu, and Brock and Misty (and their Onix and Starmie) also join immediately so as to make a three-pair team. Rosa and her Snivy and Whitney and her Miltank also come pretty darn close, as they join you at the end of the Forced Tutorial section before you download the rest of the game data.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Along with the usual moves, every opponent's Sync Move clears your team's buffs, save the one gained from using your own Sync Moves.
  • Super Mode: A select few Sync Pairs have the ability to Mega Evolve upon using their Sync Move. The Mega Evolution persists after using the Sync Move and enhances the Pokémon and their moveset. A super move that requires 3 bars to activate replaces the 2nd attack move slot.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: A scientist you encounter asks you to help with his investigation of the strange sightings of black rings showing up. Apparently, not every trainer arrived at Pasio by boat. He just misses out on the sighting of the mythical Pokémon Hoopa floating around in the background, causing mischief. Many trainers arrived on Pasio by passing through Hoopa's portals. Marlon mentions that he swam the entire distance from Unova to Pasio with his Carracosta. He saw this shiny black portal open up right in front of him and he decided to go through it, and found himself in Pasio's waters.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Subverted with Hapu. Unlike the other PML leaders, who have to be fought for a badge, Hapu gives you hers for free on account of you standing up to Team Break and then battles you anyway for funsies.


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