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New strategy-based Pokémon game appears from nowhere on iOS

The Pokémon Company has surprised the gaming world with an out-of-the-blue worldwide release of its latest iOS game, Pokémon Duel.

Previously available only in Japan, the franchise follows up the huge success of 2016’s Pokémon GO with a more complex board game style affair. Teams of six Pokémon duke it out in an attempt to reach the opponent’s side of the board, fighting each other when they come into contact. It’s an interesting mechanic and something not really seen before in the Pokémon universe. There’s a quest-based single-player mode or you can battle strangers over the internet.

Just like other games in the series, there’s also a collection element, this time fueled partly by in-app purchases. Players can earn gems by winning battles, which are then used to unlock newer and better Pokémon. Of course, much like the match-three puzzler Pokémon Shuffle, players always have the choice of speeding things up with real money purchases, which is presumably where The Pokémon Company expects to make its riches. Though Nintendo isn’t directly involved with the game, it’s interesting to see a return to the freemium payment model after the mixed reaction to Super Mario Run‘s premium ($10) price tag.

It’s unlikely this game will be as big of a success as Pokémon GO – our first impression is that it has more depth but less broad appeal. There was very little hype for the game pre-release and it was dropped onto the App Store almost from nowhere. However, it’s completely free to try out and worth a shot if you’re a fan of the Nintendo franchise or just curious about iOS strategy games in general.

Download Pokémon Duel on the App Store