Pocket Crystal League (opens in new tab) It’s a Pokémon-style card game, but it’s not, you know, The Pokemon card game. This free project on itch.io from independent developer moodytail adapts the colorful and fun Pocket Monsters to the addictive framework of last year’s indie card game Inscryption.
Like Inscryption, players draw from one deck for resources and another for units, in this case using various amounts and types of fruit distinct from the Pokémon series to bring Pokémon into play, with the ultimate goal of winning a “tug of war”. ” with opponents in a shared pool of life. Uncontested Pokémon can attack the opposing player directly and must be blocked with another Pokémon in turn.
Moodytail loses Inscryption’s spooky, psychological story in favor of pure strategic fun, and to that end it has introduced new elements by mixing up the card battles. Type advantage can make a huge difference in competition with enemy Pokémon, for example. In addition, there is one more slot in the field versus Inscryption, bringing the total number of cards in play to five, and moodytail has incorporated the leveling up and evolution of individual cards.
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The connective tissue of battles is the step-by-step progression through the desert between gyms. Each turn offers a choice from a number of essential progression activities, including fighting other trainers for cash, leveling up your deck, acquiring new cards, and so on. I found myself racking my brains over the ideal pick at each stage, and it might take some areas to build a deck strong enough to challenge Pocket Crystal League’s demanding gym leaders.
Pocket Crystal League really scratched my Gwent/Inscryption itch, and with eight Gym Leaders and attendance levels in between, it’s an impressive package for a free solo fan game. The only problem is the attention it can get from Nintendo’s lawyers. Big N has been far less accommodating of fan creations than other publishers, and moodytail is prepared for the impact of an almost inevitable cease and desist. The developer is proud of their work, however, and would like to share it with as wide an audience as possible until that day comes.