Pokemon is quite a big thing. You may have heard of it. After several years in existence, a dizzying number of collectable cards, several years of international Pokemon tournaments and who-knows-how-many different video games, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who couldn’t name a single Pokemon character. Luckily for the purpose of this review, both myself and fellow TGR bod Dave had a pretty much non-existent knowledge of both Pokemon and card battle games in general, so sat down with a large pile of cake and the Pokemon Trainer Kit (the Pikachu Libre and Suicune version as you’re asking) to try and figure out just what was going on. This is, after all, designed to ease people into the world of Pokemon.
And to be fair, it does a very decent job. The pack contains two sets of 30 cards, both in a very specific order to help with the learning process. Both players have a corresponding booklet which outlines every turn they’ll be taking in the opening match, and the foldable poster-like game mat gives rule reminders and very clear outlines of where various things go at each stage of play.
Now, I’m not going to sit and tell you how Pokemon works, that’s not what this review is about. What I will tell you though is that after a single run through using the recommended card orders we felt comfortable enough to shuffle the packs and have a “proper” game, only needing to refer back to the instructions on a couple of occasions. The balance was a little off at times – in our second game Dave evolved one of his Pokemon early in the game into some damage-dealing beast which annihilated my cards in pretty short order – but generally the cards offered a fair match-up with some quite close finishes.
So as we polished off our fourth game (and the final doughnut) the realisation struck that we actually knew how to play Pokemon. We’d started, an hour earlier, barely even knowing what Pokemon card games were all about and were now fluently charging up cards with various types of energy and using it to deal specific levels of damage to other cards, all the while managing a bank of other cards which were evolving and powering themselves up ready for the fight ahead. Bonkers. What seemed like a slow, confusing process at first seemed to genuinely work after only a small number of games.
And as that’s the main raison d’être of the Pokemon Trainer Set, it’s impossible to say anything other than that it performs its job very admirably indeed. There’s a great mix of cards, some very clear instructions (although in the first game we had we must’ve done something wrong as a couple of cards were in the wrong place) and best of all it genuinely teaches you how to play. And with a huge quantity of cards out there to buy, mix into your own decks and play against others it could be the start of a whole new fascination.
Great for kids, and equally great for adults. Impressive stuff.
Pokemon Trainer Kit
Available Now, RRP £9.99
Find your local stockist here