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GameLook report/It’s been a year since the initial announcement of “Pokémon Grand Rally”. This team strategy battle game, which has attracted much attention from the outside world since its announcement, was officially launched in overseas regions on July 21 after a year of polishing. Switch became the first platform to go online, and the mobile phone (iOS/Android) version is scheduled for September this year.
“The Pokémon Gathering” was developed by Tencent Tianmei Studio Group (hereinafter referred to as Tianmei) and The Pokémon Company (hereinafter referred to as TPC). It is the first team competition product of Pokémon IP. Traveling in the market, or for the Pokémon IP itself, has a special status and significance.
Judging from the results on the first day of launch, the “Pokémon Grand Rally” with its own BUFF halo has shown unexpectedly outstanding performance, and many players and industry media have given high evaluations. It can be said that compared with the doubts when I met at the beginning of last year, the attitude of the outside world this year is more “really fragrant”.
But it should also be noted that, compared to the “collection and cultivation” gameplay often used in traditional Pokémon IP games, “Pokémon Grand Rally” is actually quite bold. It has changed the past tradition and turned to team leisure competition. Gameplay is the core. The seemingly radical approach has also aroused some fans’ doubts and even radical voices.
This also makes me even more curious. Why does Tianmei insist on taking a path that no one has traveled before, knowing that it will cause controversy?
A powerful bullet for Pokémon IP “expansion circle”
As one of the world’s well-known IPs, the influence of “Pokémon” is actually beyond doubt. In the past 25 years, this IP, which was developed in games, has derived a series of cross-media works, covering games, animations, books, peripherals and related licensed derivatives.
In terms of games, the “Pokémon” series is still a frequent visitor to the top of the Japanese game sales charts. However, behind the high sales, most of the products are driven by the sentimental party. This just reflects a long-standing problem of Pokémon IP games-although IP is well-known in the public circle, the player circle reached by the game is slightly solidified. From the perspective of development trends, the future of gaming is still a very important area of Pokémon IP, and it is also an important driving force behind the development of IP. And as games become a distribution channel for other entertainment/commercial products, and the rise of Gen Z who are more enthusiastic about virtual worlds, the importance of games will become more and more prominent.
At this juncture, Pokémon needs a blockbuster product to solve the problem of breaking the circle, and “Pokémon Grand Rally” has high hopes.
At the TPC face-to-face meeting in June last year, the official held a separate conference for the product, which is self-evident. President Henghe Ishihara also bluntly expressed at the meeting that he hopes that “more people can play Pokémon and understand Pokémon IP.” The meaning behind it is also very simple and clear-to realize the further expansion of Pokémon IP.
Tsunekazu Ishihara, President of The Pokémon Company
In fact, for mobile games, TPC has tried several times, but in terms of market performance, there is only one AR game “Pokemon GO” that is still at the top of the best-selling list, with historical revenue of more than 5 billion US dollars. , The performance of the remaining IP products is lacklustre.
The appearance of “Pokémon GO” brought Pokémon IP into the mobile AR field for the first time, a very successful re-creation. The success of this product shows that only breaking through traditional design patterns is the key to success. The “Pokémon Grand Rally” developed by Tencent is also a breakthrough in the traditional collection of Pokémon, allowing this IP to enter the field of team leisure competition for the first time.
Considering that the casual competitive gameplay itself is already one of the most popular gameplay in the world, it has a huge audience base, and for such derivative works that take the expansion of the circle as the pre-consideration, the volume of the audience circle is the choice of the core gameplay. Important considerations of the time, and heavyweight IP can often form spontaneous spread among players, so this combination of “super IP + leisure sports” is expected to provide sufficient motivation for the further expansion of Pokémon IP.
In addition, players who are new to Pokémon IP attracted by “Pokémon Grand Rally” will be fed back to other games under the IP to a great extent, further deepening and stabilizing the composite circle layout of Pokémon IP. .
It can be said that the emergence of “Pokémon Grand Rally” is precisely the mission to expand the Pokémon IP.
IP is just used for skin?There may be some misunderstandings
Whether it was just debuted at the beginning or it is now officially launched in overseas regions, I noticed that some players call “Pokémon Grand Rally” a “MOBA for skin” game, and Pokémon IP is regarded as a money-making game. The tool that hurts the feelings of fans.
But looking at it rationally, is this really the case? The answer is obviously no. Don’t rush to curse, let us look at them one by one.
One of the most common criticisms of IP-derived games from fans is that the IP is not restored. In the long run, the degree of IP reduction greatly affects fans’ recognition of the game. Therefore, how to better show the different characteristics of Pokémon has become the primary consideration of Tianmei. The answer given by Tianmei is: while ensuring the IP characteristics, it does not forget to consolidate the game’s strategic competitive attributes.
The character image is the first step to ensure the IP characteristics. From the content displayed in the game, it is not difficult to see that Tianmei has spent a lot of effort on the character image design. In addition to presenting the classic characters’ moves, there are still some In terms of small details, such as the integration of the sleeping-loving characteristics of Kabimon, it not only restores the image of Pokémon, but also takes into account the personality core of the character.
At the same time, according to the different combat methods of Pokémon, Tianmei also set up its professional positioning such as defensive and offensive types. On the one hand, it brings more strategic choices and team battles to the game to satisfy players’ different styles of play. The pursuit of the game, on the other hand, also improves the viewing of the game.
What needs to be pointed out is that each Pokémon in the game also has an exclusive assembly move that can show the highlight moment. In addition, the classic “holdings and battle items” settings and “evolution” mechanisms in the Pokémon IP have also been fully restored. Players can get more satisfaction from this, and also improve their perception of unfamiliar Pokémon in a subtle way, and achieve the effect of expanding Pokémon IP.
As an IP that has existed for 25 years, fans have deep emotional sustenance for Pokémon IP. In order not to destroy fans’ overall knowledge of IP, Tianmei created a new independent worldview system based on gameplay, and invited the well-known composer Jingshan Masada, and well-known voice actor Otani Yujiang, etc., to create the sound of the game and guarantee the sound of Pokémon. The music and sound effects are authentic.
According to Tianmei, the sound effects of Pokémon’s moves are designed based on their respective attributes. While enhancing the expression of Pokémon’s attributes, it also allows players to clearly distinguish their roles through voices in a melee.
In addition, the biggest feature of the game is the integration of the props of the “Pokémon Grand Rally” and the casual competitive gameplay, and the design of props that can be built in at the beginning and have functions such as strengthening power and speed. The simplified setting not only reduces the entry barrier for new players, but also matches the worldview of Pokémon IP.
From map mechanism to gameplay innovation, “Pokémon Grand Rally” is less “competitive” but not “fun”
In terms of gameplay, it may be that the lightweight design of “Pokémon Grand Rally” compared to traditional MOBA games has caused many people to question the depth of the gameplay, but from my actual experience, the game is actually in leisure and competition. The balance of gameplay on the game can be described as ingenious.
The fast-paced games on the market often reveal the problem of insufficient game content, and “Pokémon Grand Rally” has effectively enhanced its strategic depth by enriching the map mechanism and gameplay modes, and providing players with more diversification. Of experience choices.
For this reason, Tianmei has specially adopted the “countdown victory + scoring” limited-time scoring mode for the game. In the game, players will be able to choose between two modes, namely the 5V5 big map battle mode, and the 4V4, 3V3 small map battle mode.
In the 5V5 battle, the game’s single game duration is limited to 10 minutes, and the map area is larger; while the 4V4 and 3V3 modes have made more weight loss overall, the reduction of map points and the placement of different organs shortens the player The distance of the battle, coupled with the refreshing of different wild Pokémon, further accelerates the rhythm of the game. Even under the setting of a single game duration of 5 minutes, you can get a more diverse battle experience.
It can be seen that the game’s limited-time point-to-point gameplay is not based on overthrowing the opponent’s base as a winning condition like traditional MOBA games. On the one hand, it avoids the high threshold and high pressure of traditional MOBA games, and the fixed game duration of a single game is relatively more free. You can come to several rounds while taking the bus and subway, which is more in line with the fragmented entertainment needs of today’s young people; on the other hand, the relatively relaxed game rhythm also conforms to the usual family fun features of the Pokémon series.
In terms of the most important balance of competitive games, Tianmei has also balanced the strong period of its evolution in view of the positioning of Pokémon. For example, some Pokémon’s strong period is relatively advanced, which may quickly help the team to establish a lead; while some Pokémon’s strong period is in the second half of the game, each time they evolve, they can gain breakthrough ability improvements, and gradually Take control of the game.
On the surface, the “evolution” mechanism restores the setting of the character’s growth and evolution in Pokémon, but in depth, after the evolution, players can also choose two different move branches to deal with different battlefield situations. This is actually While further distinguishing the difference from traditional MOBA gameplay, it also enriches the strategy and experience of the game.
Considering that different Pokémon has the difference in the strong period, how to allocate lineup and route resources during the game has become the key to affecting the direction of the battle. As time goes on, the scenes of a headwind turnaround in the MOBA are often presented in the game, indicating that “Pokémon Grand Rally” has the same competitive experience as traditional MOBA games.
In the game, players can also experience three different themed maps based on the rotation mechanism-Giver City, Aura Park, and Mar Arena. It should be pointed out that each map has a unique core gameplay and mechanism, such as the “shift zone” in Giver City. Both Pokémon will move faster when standing on it, which gives the player a better way to move. Provides more operating space, giving a unique mobile gameplay experience.
From the perspective of gameplay design, the addition of the rotation mechanism creates a stronger sense of the game for the game, and map elements such as super springboards can enable the team to quickly switch lanes, which has a huge effect on both offense and defense. , It also accelerates the pace of the game and brings a more exciting competitive experience.
It is not difficult to see from the above that Tianmei actually deliberately added innovative competitive elements to increase the fun and strategy of the game while striving to distinguish the game from the traditional MOBA gameplay, so as to take into account the needs of casual players and competitive players. , To expand the potential user base of the product.
Tianmei used her strength to play a “breakthrough card”
There is a very interesting little detail in “Pokémon Grand Rally”: that is, after the player completes the score, some Pokémon will make a slam dunk action. Therefore, the game has also been ridiculed by many players as “Pokémon Slam Dunk”.
It was such a “slam dunk game” that was not optimistic at first, but it performed far beyond expectations when it was launched on the first day. Taking into account that in overseas markets, the leisure sports category has always been unpopular, and it can make the players “true fragrance” through restoration and innovation. What is reflected behind it is the outside world’s recognition of Tianmei’s research and development in the leisure sports category.
In fact, Tianmei’s R&D strength has always been well-known around the world. This can be seen from the market performance of its “Honor of Kings” and “Call of Duty Mobile Games”.
After Tianmei’s R&D strength was recognized, the next important direction for its continued advancement has become obvious-that is, “exporting content to the outside world”, and this direction is also the current development trend of the entire Chinese game industry.
In “Pokémon Grand Rally”, Tianmei has made preliminary attempts on this, such as spending a lot of effort to achieve data interoperability between the Switch and the mobile phone. Cross-terminal intercommunication brings extremely high technical difficulty in development. It not only requires simultaneous development of dual platforms, but also maintains the consistency of the overall system functions and content of the game on different platforms.
But the benefits are obvious. Cross-terminal intercommunication not only breaks the boundaries between Switch console players and mobile game players, combined with the casual gameplay, but also allows players including novices to easily enjoy the fun of Pokémon battles together, allowing users A larger group of mobile phone players with more young people can have a window to understand Pokémon, and even hope to open up new markets.
With the top R&D strength of the Tianmei R&D team, as well as the support of the love and ingenuity of Pokémon IP, the cooperative R&D between Tianmei and TPC is very eye-catching, which can be seen in the finishing and absorption of international top IP such as Activision and SNK. After the successful cooperation experience, this time has a larger and deeper innovative design in the gameplay, which reflects not only the increasing hard power of Tianmei, but also its firm pursuit of game quality, perhaps in a series of After the excellent cooperative research and development, what we will see before our eyes will be the self-researched by Tianmei of higher quality. Personally, such expectations may be realized in the near future.
This Article is curated from Source and we only provide the English version of the Story.