Pokémon Unite (Switch, Mobile)

I don’t really play a whole lot of PC games, so I’m not familiar with MOBA titles.  MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, by the way.  But when a free-to-play Pokémon themed MOBA came out a while back, I knew I had to try it and review it!  In the game you control your Pokémon directly as you work in teams of five to score goals on your opponent’s side.  If you wanted me to describe it in my own inexperienced words, I’d say it’s like Pokémon mixed with basketball.  I know people would disagree with that description, but that’s how I saw it.  Anyway, Pokémon Unite is available for Switch and mobile devices, but reviewed on Switch here.

So here’s how the game works.  Two teams of five are on each side of an arena, and each team has a certain number of goals represented as circles on the field.  When you are on your side, you can go faster and heal yourself inside the circles.  But if you are on the opposing side, you’ll slow down!  You’ll control your Pokémon directly and must defeat scattered wild Pokémon around the arena.  Doing so will earn you a special type of energy that will let you score goals on your opponents’ circles.  But watch out because if an opponent attacks you, you won’t score the goal.  And if an opponent attacks you and you are defeated, you’ll lose some of your energy and must respawn back at your team’s side after a few seconds.  The more Pokémon you defeat, the higher level you’ll be, which will open up more powerful attack moves for you to use, and some Pokémon will even evolve!  Goal circles can only be scored a certain number of times before they’re destroyed, too, and defeating certain wild Pokémon will give your team an advantage.  At the end of ten minutes, whichever team has the highest score, wins!  And I was happy that you can play as Snorlax, my favorite Pokémon!

After battles, you’ll earn money and other trinkets that you can use to buy more Pokémon to play as and accessories and outfits for your trainer.  You can also earn these things with all sorts of daily missions and such.  The game has a few problems, though. Usually these types of online games feel different every match, but Unite feels a bit repetitive at times.  There were some lags and skips that felt jarring, too.  It’s fun when you are winning, but when you are losing badly because your team members decided to give up and stop playing, it’s not very fun (but sometimes that’s all you feel like you can do when you are being decimated).  Plus all the micro-transactions made progress feel a bit slow.  However, Pokémon Unite is still a pretty approachable online game that’s easy to jump into and play.  And it’s free-to-play so you might as well try it if you’re interested.

Kid Factor:

Pokémon Unite is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You can smack other Pokémon critters around with body slams, fire breath, and electric attacks, but defeated characters just warp back to their starting point, so violence is minimal.  Reading skill is helpful, and while this is one of the more approachable and safe online games for kids, parental supervision is still highly recommended for all the in-game purchases.

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