Big in Japan: Pokémon returns with a brand new table top mobile experience

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Big in Japan: Pokémon returns with a brand new table top mobile experience

In Big in Japan, we take a look at a game that is currently topping the charts in Tokyo, to see what mobile gaming looks like across the pond (and then a few more ponds).

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When The Pokémon Company announced that it would be releasing a brand new mobile Pokémon game, entitled Pokémon Co-master, you just knew it would big in Japan.

Developed by Heroz Japan and released at the start of April, Co-master might not be what you'd expect from a Pokémon game.

This isn't a brand new RPG. We'll have to wait until Sun and Moon for that. Instead it's a brand new board game set inside the Pokémon universe.

Pokémon Co-master has hints of the Pokémon Trading Card Game around it: something seen not only in the way that it takes inspiration from table top games, but also in the way it encourages that "Gotta Catch Em' All" mentality.

As always you'll begin with a selection of the franchise's starter Pokémon. New Pokémon can then be obtained via a Gacha system, one that can be paid for via in-game currency or IAPs.

The only disappointing aspect of this, is that currently the game only includes a selection of the 721 Pokémon in existence, with many favourites such as Gengar, Alakazam and Mew notably absent.

Spin that wheel

In terms of gameplay, the game resembles Shogi and Go: games that many would consider the Japanese and Chinese equivalents of Chess respectively.

As the battle begins each player is in control of six Pokémon pieces, which players take in turns to move around the board in an effort to capture their opponent's base, whilst of course keeping one eye on protecting their own.

Battles between two Pocket Monsters are decided by the roll of a roulette wheel, one which includes various different attack powers, alongside special abilities.

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Big In Japan

You can play both offline against the AI, and online against other players. And Heroz has designed the game around short matches, so Co-master's battles are not only great fun, but also perfectly suited to mobile byte-sized gameplay.

Now of course, it's fair to say that the Pokémon brand would have certainly helped the title regardless of its quality.

However, once this brand and its extremely popular characters are combined with common Japanese mobile gaming mechanics, such as those found with the likes of Monster Strike and Puzzle and Dragons, you've got all the ingredients for a game that will more than appeal to a Japanese audience.

All in all, Pokémon Co-master has the makings of not only a pretty complete Pokémon title, but also an experience perfectly suited to mobile too.

So will it make it over to the west? Well, that's a very good question. The brand is obviously still extremely strong, and with Pokemon Go already announced alongside a range of comparable figures, chances are extremely good.

However, if we are to receive this, expect to have to wait until Pokémon fever is in the air again when Sun and Moon release towards the end of the year.

Either way though, if and when Pokémon Co-master comes westerly, despite it's seemingly wacky make-up, Pokémon fans will not want to ignore it.