Ever since I got my first phone, I’ve been into app games in one way or another. From “Pocket Frogs” to “Subway Surfers”, I’ve always had at least some kind of app game on my phone. I was one of those people wandering around the neighborhood for hours in this past summer playing “Pokemon Go” and one of those people collecting virtual cats on “Neko Atsume” (Cat Collector). App games are the underrated figures of gaming; they are rarely taken seriously as games, yet they make up 35% of the iOS Apple marketplace, and due to the “Pokemon Go” phenomenon, app games have soared above traditional gaming consoles when it comes to consumer spending. Nintendo’s great success in “Pokemon Go” has incentivized them to create new app games such as “Super Mario Run”, which also garnered huge success; however, “Pokemon Duel” is a game that more people should be talking about from Nintendo’s library.
“Pokemon Duel” was released on January 24th this year with relatively little fanfare compared to “Super Mario Run”, let alone “Pokemon Go”, but it is not a game to be overlooked. It is a game that seems to combine “Capture the Flag”, “Chess”, and (oddly enough) “Wheel of Fortune”. You and your opponent have six “Pokemon” statues, in which the object is to get one of your statues onto the enemy’s goal point. Pokemon statues can “battle” by both spinning their wheels that contain various amounts of damage or status effects that it can inflict by chance. “Pokemon Duel” takes advantage of its medium; every match has a low time-commitment and a fast pace making it the perfect game to play on your phone, making it a perfect game to play while waiting for an appointment or class.
What makes “Pokemon Duel” shine is its game mechanics. It is very easy to get hooked into the game; you don’t even need to have knowledge of the original Pokemon video games or the trading card game before getting into this game (I suppose you could even call “Pokemon Duel” a “spin-off”). The game is also free-to-play. You can buy in-game currency, but you won’t suffer an overwhelming disadvantage if you choose not to buy anything with real money. With the variety of figures and strategies, “Pokemon Duel” has you coming back every day to try new strategies and figure combinations. There is no one way to form your sets of figures, and each game opponent will have a different way of battling. Each match lasts about 3-4 minutes (8 at max); I like to play matches as little homework breaks. The game incentivizes coming in every day by introducing daily quests and opportunities for free statues.
No game comes without its flaws, however. While the game has already been released in Japan, there were some server problems upon release; however, they were never as bad as “Pokemon Go” and were fixed relatively quickly. The interface could use some work as well; the menus could use an aesthetic facelift and larger buttons. The gameplay truly shines with ranked live matches. On that same vein, the AI story-mode matches could use a facelift. There’s very little incentive to use it, so the AI mode feels superfluous. None of these flaws really impede my enjoyment of the game, however.
Mobile games have been growing in popularity overtime, and “Pokemon Duel” is an example of what a great app game could be. It’s easy to start playing, but the versatility of gameplay and constant addition of new content make this game addictive and fun. I strongly recommend this game to anyone looking for a new addition to their app game library and with a little bit of free time. I guarantee that once you start, you won’t be able to stop playing.