Pokémon Trading Card Game Online Review

There really isn’t much to say about the free Pokémon trading card game online. It’s the Pokémon trading card game, but the way it’s been recreated for iOS is mundane, technically mediocre, and has very little benefit outside of its connection to the beloved franchise. Even though the PC version has been around for years, it still feels incomplete and rushed. As a longtime Pokémon fan and avid card collector, I’m disappointed with its limited scope and widespread low quality, even though it does allow me mobile access to a robust and engaging game that I love.

The Pokémon TCGO looks and sounds surprisingly amateurish. As for the UI, I might have mistaken it for a cheap knockoff – the cards have recognizable official art, but the character art is in a distinctly different style than the typical Pokémon fare. , and the juxtaposition is a bit strange. The generic background music adds to this unofficial feeling. I feel like the same song is played on a loop, and that pissed me off especially since I was spending time fighting.

To his credit, I really had fun playing the campaign, despite my first impressions with the user interface. The relatively powerful single player mode is designed both as an opportunity to practice strategy and incrementally unlock more cards, and my “I have to catch them all” instinct has definitely kicked in. I spent about 10 hours replaying the NPCs in sequence to unlock more boosters, and as in the old days with binders and card protective sleeves, I also spent time admiring my growing collection.

The difficulty of the NPCs isn’t really consistent, even in the most difficult setting, but – and the Pokémon TCG in general is – much of it due to chance. I lost a match almost immediately because I drew too many unnecessary Trainer cards, but I also had a particularly exciting match in which I defeated my opponent’s Kyurem by poisoning and putting him to sleep. continuously with just a Wurmple. Thanks to a series of very lucky draws in my favor, Kyurem was unable to attack, and I stayed alive long enough to draw a better Pokémon.

The other major draw of PokémonTCGO, competitive online play, is exploding its potential with lagging matches that are quite too slow to enjoy. Several opponents took way too long to pick a Pokemon at first, for example, so either there was an issue with the network communication or my opponents had something better to do. During this time, on my end, connecting to the network in general was difficult, and putting down the iPad for a minute to have a snack or to reply to a text wasted time on several occasions.

As for the free-to-play element, Pokémon TCGO’s progression is a bit slow for those who opt out of microtransactions (and, in this case, buy IRL card packs that have redeemable codes). “Buying” a full game from the store costs 500 coins, and you earn anywhere from one to 10 coins per game. This is especially slow if you want to play competitively with a deck that you create yourself, instead of just using and reusing starter decks. As someone with an already large collection of physical Pokémon cards, I find it difficult to rationalize buying more virtual cards for a mediocre online version of the game I already play in the real world.