What the Pokémon TCG Could Learn from Indie Deckbuilding Games

Between collectors and competitive play, the Pokémon Trading Card Game is still going strong. Like many popular card games, Pokémon has also received its own its own digital versions where players can collect and play using cards from various released packs. However, there was one digital version that went beyond the card game itself and took players on an adventure: Pokémon Trading Card Game for Game Boy. Given the success of indie deckbuilding games, it's time for Nintendo to bring back this approach to the Pokémon TCG.

The Game Boy's Pokémon Trading Card Game released in 2000 and featured a storyline similar to Pokémon Red and Blue. The player chooses a starter deck, and from there, they can customize it and gain more cards by defeating NPCs. The goal is to defeat the eight Club Masters -- essentially Gym Leaders -- and then the four Grand Masters acting as the game's Elite Four. Many cards were from the real TCG, and there was even a link cable component so players could battle their friends.

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A second game was made for Game Boy Color called Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR! However, it never released outside of Japan. This had more features, including character gender options, more story, deck assistance, more cards and more opponents. This was when the TCG was still young and card games in general were growing. Today, Pokémon's TCG is among the most popular and well-known games out there -- yet its never received another game like the Game Boy ones. Instead of releasing another online deck dueling game, The Pokémon Company should shake things up once more by coming up with a new Pokémon card game that goes beyond the table.

While card-based video games can be niche, plent of indie games have proven that there is a market for card mechanics. Inscryption is a horror game that incorporates a card game mechanic with demons and life and death, and Slay the Spire is a popular roguelike where players combat monsters and explore dungeons using deckbuilding and card battles. Even The Witcher has its own card-battler RPG based on Gwent called Thronebreaker, which tells the story of a major character from the novels. Developer have gotten creative in terms of how cards can be used in ways that go beyond the traditional PVP gameplay.

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The Pokémon franchise in general has branched out over the years to create games outside of the main series monster collecting and battling RPGs, including dungeon crawlers, puzzle games, a MOBA and more. However, it's been a long time since this creativity has been applied to its TCG.

Pokémon TCG is in a prime position to make a new video game that's not just a digital version of the physical card game. Instead, it could -- and should -- make something unique, whether that's a new RPG with similar features to modern Pokémon titles or an entirely new adventure game with a card-based spin. Between the popularity of games like Slay the Spire and the power of Pokémon's brand, such a game has the potential to be a huge success.

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Gina (305 Articles Published)

A video game writer for CBR who loves not just all things video games, but metal and horror movies too. Living in Canada with her handsome pooch, she also don's a cape for creating digital art on occasion and has some experience with the development side of gaming. Find me over on Twitter.

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