We already know that you’ve got to catch ’em all, but the fun of Pokémon doesn’t stop after they’re caught. Next, it’s time for battle!
Now, battling Pokémon can be easy, screen-free, and interactive with the new Pokémon Surprise Attack Game from Jazwares. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, this game comes with two Poké Balls, six battle disks, and two Pokémon figures that players can pit against each other.
Overall, the premise of the game is pretty straightforward, especially when played in “Junior” mode. Players each select a Pokémon figure and a disk, then load them into the Poké Ball. The disks are broken up into different wedges (like a pie chart), and each wedge represents either a block (indicated by a circle with a slash through it) or the power of an attack (indicated by icons, such as stars, fairy wings, or water droplets). This game may be safe for kids as young as 4, but younger players may need some help properly slotting their disks to the Poké Ball. You have to put them in at a slight angle and provide just the right amount of force to make them snap in place.
Once the disk and Pokémon figure are in place, kids close the lid of the Poké Ball, then twist it until it clicks. That means it is loaded up, and kids can press the large red button on the base to make the Poké Ball spin around, opening to reveal the figure inside to the opposing player. Be sure to hold on to the base of the Poké Ball as it spins, so the force of the spin doesn’t knock the Poké Ball over! This is the most fun and interactive portion of the game — Honestly, younger kids may just enjoy utilizing this feature as a play pattern on its own, which is another fun way to enjoy this toy.
However, for those who are playing the game, the spinning motion also causes the battle disks to spin. An indicator inside will point to one of the disk’s wedges, and that dictates what the player’s Pokémon does in this round of battle. For example, if the indicator lands on a wedge with three water droplets, that player inflicts three points of damage on their opponent. The opponent has to mark that damage using a counter that is built into the base. The only way the opposing player could avoid that damage is if their indicator landed on a space with a block symbol!
This process repeats for two more rounds. Players must select a new disk for each round, and players continue to track the damage they receive in each round. The player who inflicts more damage on their opponent after three rounds (or who knocks their opponent out at any point) wins the game.
The game instructions also include directions for a single-player game. That is a great way for kids to get familiar with the game mechanics before battling a friend. However, I would say that the game is more fun with two players.
Kids who know Pokémon well, or who get familiar with this game, can also take things up a level with a “Master” version of the game. When playing with these rules, the types of Pokémon and the types of symbols that appear on the battle disks (not just the number) influence play and the amount of damage each player can do in battle. Players who have some Pokémon background will likely enjoy this style of play more, but the instructions do include a detailed guide of which Pokémon types are stronger/weaker against each other, which can be a big help. When playing in this mode, it also helps to have more figures to choose from. The game only comes with two to start, but there are other figures and disks available to purchase separately.
Overall, this game is a good mix of random chance (because of the spinning disks) and light strategy, especially if kids play with the Master rules. It is certainly much easier to learn than Pokémon video games or the Pokémon Trading Card Game, which makes it a good option for younger fans who want to start engaging with Pokémon beyond action figures and plush, but who aren’t quite old enough for the full trainer experience.
While getting the figures and disks properly in place may be a bit of a hurdle for the youngest players, it does get easier with practice. It’s also a fun opportunity for the older Pokémon fans in their life to join in, team up, and teach them about the types of Pokémon and how to be the ultimate Pokémon trainer!
Right now, the game is available in three versions: Pikachu vs. Bulbasaur, Squirtle vs. Jigglypuff, or Charmander vs. Riolu.