For over 20 years, Pokémon has encouraged fans to track down pocket monsters and “catch ’em all.” The best-selling franchise has even been turned into the hit mobile game, Pokémon Go; but that’s not the first time that the game expanded beyond its initial medium. In 1999, Hasbro and Milton Bradley released Pokémon Master Trainer, a board game that attempted to recreate the experience of both the video game and the hit anime series. But it may have fallen far short of that goal.
In a recent video, Joshua Wittenkeller posted an in-depth look at the game, and quickly declared “this is Pokémon Master Trainer, and it will destroy you.” As Wittenkeller explained it, part of the game’s appeal when he was a child was the huge game board, the numerous cards, and the game pieces that represented almost all of the original generation of Pokémon. On the surface, that should have been enough. However, the game’s bizarre rule structure not only stacks the deck against the players, it almost seems to be designed to keep anyone from winning.
For example, each of the multi-colored Ash Ketchum (because there are no other player characters) is stuck with a starter Pokémon, three of which are weaker than the others. And should the players be fortunate enough to find one of the game’s more powerful Pokémon, one of the rules allows rival players to occasionally force trades that can decimate a strong lineup.
If that’s not heartbreaking enough, the game’s final battle is also bound to be frustrating. Players have to travel around the last circle as many times as it takes to land on one of the two spaces that allows the final challenge to begin. And if you can somehow beat the ludicrous odds against you, an opposing player may use a time machine to completely undo your victory and keep the game going. That is a cruel twist on what should be a friendly game!
Even for all of its faults, Wittenkeller admitted to enjoying Pokémon Master Trainer, but he warns fans that this game definitely isn’t for everyone. He also recommended that it only be played by people who don’t take it too seriously, and noted that it took nearly four hours for he and his friends to finish it in a recent game. That’s no small commitment of time!
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Image Credit: TheJWittz