Platforms: iOS, Android

These days, we have endless choices for mobile games. Few games stand out. Those that do are innovative, or at the very least, moderately fun. Unfortunately, Pocket Platoons is neither. It feels like it was cooked up in a lab to be the next Farmville, and it’s not fun. Set in WWII, Pocket Platoons is a combination of two genres. The first is where players design and customize a base from the ground up using in-game currency to purchase decorations. The second is the turn-based strategic combat game, similar to Fire Emblem.

The first chunk of gameplay involves managing your army’s headquarters. Each structure you build has a unique function. The gold needed to purchase upgrades, and do just about anything to them is earned by participating in battles and completing missions. But Pocket Platoons never stops reminding you that your camp could be more stylish if you forked over a few bucks. The ubiquitous presence of prices and pop-up windows throughout Pocket Platoons is almost predatory. It’s more akin to an online shopping experience than a game.

You choose to be either the Axis or the Allies. The combat sections involve battles between your army and the enemy’s. Each army occupies a separate grid on either side of the screen. The grids are populated with troops. Each group of troops has different abilities—some attack several opponents at once and some can repair tanks on the fly, for example. More often than not, the “Auto-Attack” option, which causes the AI to take over, was smart enough to win fights on its own. Therefore, the combat rarely required participation.

Erica, the in-game guide, coaches the player through the game’s tutorials. Her advice is what helps make sense of the game’s many moving parts and currency systems. Unfortunately, her character is represented by an overtly sexualized Japanese anime-style illustration, complete with puckered lips and large eyeballs that wink seductively. This is disappointing, since women famously played an important role in WWII. This, combined with how characters appear in the game—as infantile, big-headed cartoons with baby voices—is a juvenile reduction of a tragic time in world history.

This game feels like a missed opportunity. En Masse should have either doubled down on the WWII setting to create a meaningful gameplay experience, or they should have invented their own setting so that their art style was less careless. As mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of mobile games. Pocket Platoons does not offer a compelling reason to play for more than an hour or so.

This article was written by

Tim Mulkerin is a freelance writer who lives in Tucson, Arizona. He worked really hard for an art history degree before he realized that writing about games and entertainment was what he really wanted to do for a living. Really, it should have been obvious given how he tried to skew every essay assignment towards games in one way or another. You can say hello on Twitter @timmulk.