Pokemon Duel is the Best Smartphone Game by Nintendo, So Why is Nobody Talking About it?

Pokemon Duel is possibly the greatest Nintendo app of all time. Why is no one talking about it?

In 2016, Nintendo surprised long time gamers by announcing that they'd be putting several of their beloved franchises on smart phones. Franchises like Pokemon, Mario, Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem. People, like myself, had their doubts until Pokemon Go dropped.

Pokemon Go was a MASSIVE hit. Not just for Nintendo or Niantic, but smartphone games in general. Suddenly people were upgrading their phones for an app; it was a phone seller.

Then, recently, Nintendo dropped Super Mario Run, a runner game starring Nintendo's main man, Mario. It was also hit with success.

And just recently, the world was introduced to Fire Emblem Heroes, a mini-bite sized version of Fire Emblem featuring heroes from every game, taking part in four on four battles.

But it when I was looking up Fire Emblem Heroes by searching "Nintendo" that I saw another game I had never heard about. Pokemon Duel. I downloaded it and, honestly, I don't need any other Nintendo app for the rest of my life as it is perfect, and I'm a little bothered no one's talking about it. So here I am. Let's discuss.

Pokemon Duel is, like many smartphone games, based on collecting characters. In this case, it's about collecting Pokemon because of course it is. Each Pokemon is rendered as a beautiful 3D statue with a base indicating its type. For example, my Manaphy (shown below) has an aquatic landscape below it.

How the game is played, however, differs from just about any other Nintendo app (and most other apps in general). It starts off as a basic variation of the old board game "Cops and Robbers." You have six Pokemon per side, two spots in the corner where your pieces can enter the board and a goal piece on both sides -- yours, that you have to defend, and your opponent's that you have to capture.

Just like in the original board game, surrounding a piece removes it from the board. Where the game differs though is in the Pokemon you select. You can also choose to battle Pokemon. When this happens, a battle screen appears and two wheels come down, one with your Pokemon's available moves, the other with your opponents. They spin rapidly till you tap to stop them. Whoever has the strongest move wins. You also have "MISS" spaces on both sides that are impossible to remove. Because of this, my adorable little scamp of a Polywog has beaten a Ho-oh.

Other things to add to the strategy are special abilities innate in the Pokemon. My adorable little Manaphy that you saw earlier? If you were wondering why my team is mostly Water type, it's because when he's in play, all water type Pokemon get a +20 in their attack, which is huge.

There's also speed to consider. Manaphy brings a lot to the table but can only move one space at a time. My Keldeo or Polywog, however, can move three.

One of the coolest parts of the game is quickly looking through your opponent's Pokemon, seeing what they're capable of and trying to devise what THEY can do. I didn't think I'd have to worry about this at first, until the first time I attacked a Sandshrew and it thanked me by using Dig, crawling under my piece and taking my goal.

Pokemon Duel is easily the most brain consuming app I've ever used -- I have to think a lot. Unlike the mindless smashing of Pokemon Go battles, Pokemon Duel is like a game of chess where every piece is capable of something different every battle. This is without going into the fact that you can still level a Pokemon's tier evolution, so that they can evolve during the battle and raise their stats -- among other fun things.

Not only that, but there's two other places where Pokemon Duel shines.

For one thing, they have a story mode. While the stakes aren't as high as Fire Emblem Heroes' story, it's definitely better written and you actually get dialogue choices.

For another thing, you can actually play your friends. Not just an AI controlling them. I've sat down, told a friend on Facebook I wanted to play them, and gone back and forth with them. All the while using Facebook to yell obscenities at each other every time someone revealed a trick up their sleeve.

So with gorgeous 3D graphics, a charming story, an incredibly solid free-to-play model, a wealth of game modes, a stunning amount of strategy, and so much more, honestly, why is no one talking about this?

Go. Download it. Try it. Love it.

P.S: If you end up wanting to play someone, heck, comment, maybe I or another commenter will be willing to challenge you.


[UPDATE: The game was off to a rocky start with a few lag problems but the game has not only been fixed of practically every lag problem but they also added "gyms" which our tournaments where the amount of wins you get against other players in a row give you better and better prizes the higher you get.]

Our Rating
Pokemon Duel is possibly the greatest Nintendo app of all time. Why is no one talking about it?
Reviewed On: Android


Just a 30-something year old man from Ohio. Wife. Two kids. Game systems. And a dog...somewhere...I think.

Published Feb. 9th 2017

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