Most freemium games start you off with at least an hour’s worth of content before they start asking you to buy currency. Little Masters doesn’t play by those rules. Little Masters, a blatant Pokemon rip-off, cuts right to the chase.
The chase, of course, is for your dollars. Part of the reason you run out of currency so quickly is that there’s not much to do in the game. Before long, you’ll run out of tasks and end up waiting around and twiddling your thumbs unless you’re willing to part with real-life money.
Little Masters may look like Pokemon in screenshots, but it’s remarkably shallow and tiny. Unlike the vast Pokeverse Nintendo has created in their venerable RPG series, there’s no questing to be found here. There’s no world to explore. You don’t even control your character. He just stands there on a pint-sized farm, collecting monsters and battling with them.
To find monsters to battle, you hire townsfolk and send them hunting. They’re gone for a set amount of real-life time, or you can pay coins to make them hurry up. When they come back, you fight whatever monster they’ve nabbed. If you win the battle (and you usually will, because it’s your team of five Pokemon–er, monsters— against one), you automatically get an egg containing the type of monster you defeated.
You can then deposit that egg in your hatchery and either wait for it to hatch, or pay a handful of coins to speed up the process. As you battle, your monsters level up and evolve, and you can swap them out for new monsters you pick up.
As you might expect if you’ve played Pokemon, the monsters are based on elements like Fire, Grass, Water, Metal, Dark, Poison, and the like. Each element is strong against some elements and weak against others. Unless you write them down, however, the interactions quickly become tough to remember. This won’t be a problem for devoted fans, but it might turn off casual players.
The only other thing to do in the game is to battle your monsters online against Game Center friends, or random opponents. Unfortunately, these fights are also pretty ho-hum. The matchmaking is awful, so we were almost always matched with people who were stronger, often much stronger than we were, resulting in scores of one-hit deaths. Maybe one in 20 of our matches were close– not a very encouraging ratio.
Adding to the game’s problems, it’s buggy. During the hours we spent toiling away with our team of monsters, the game froze or crashed fairly often.
Little Masters is obviously trying to cash in on Pokemon’s fame, but it doesn’t add anything to the formula. In fact, it removes a whole lot of what makes Pokemon great. So give it a try if you must– it’s free after all– but there are other more worthy Pokemon-style games on the App Store that don’t feel like watered-down rip-offs. As it stands, Little Masters is a shallow clone and nothing more.