Each machine has four stations; two pairs back to back. Each station includes a facility to exchange currency for medals and a slot to insert medals, present at the top of the control panel assembly. Below these are the joystick, used to select moves, items, and Pokémon on the game board to attack; a circular red confirm button; a smaller circular blue cancel button; and a square yellow button used to change stages.
While the control panels for each pair of adjacent stations are separated, a single large monitor caters for the game display, with the game boards separated by on-screen graphics.
As Pokémon: Battle Nine has the potential to play with large sums of medals, physical medals inserted are added to an in-game bank. Medals earned and used during gameplay are added or deducted from this bank, and the player may cash out at any time.
Each game board consists of a 3×3 grid featuring 9 Pokémon. The Pokémon present depend on the stage, which include Forest and Cave, and the difficulty level chosen by the player. The difficulty level can be chosen any time a player changes stage, and ranges from Lv.1 to Lv.20. Level modifiers scale up the number of medals awarded for combos and captures, but also scales up the medal requirements for moves and other options. Some Pokémon can only be encountered at Lv.6 and above. The Pokémon and character illustrations in the game are sourced from the anime, as are a number of sound effects. Pokémon: Battle Nine includes a roster of more than 170 Pokémon, all of which can be used in battle.
Gameplay in Pokémon: Battle Nine
The main aim of each game is to earn as many medals as possible, which can be done by capturing Pokémon and clearing the game board. Pokémon can be captured much in the same way as the core series: by battling them and using Poké Balls. Players use their main Pokémon to battle against Pokémon on the game board, and can select a move from those available. Using a move costs medals, with stronger moves or those with the potential to hit more than one Pokémon typically costing more medals. The player can decide which Pokémon to attack by using the joystick – the amount of damage it will do is also displayed on each Pokémon's HP bar.
After a Pokémon has attacked, a reel will appear and prompt the player to press the confirm button to select an option. The possible options include: a regular Poké Ball, a Great Ball, a Hyper Ball, a Meowth symbol, and a Team Rocket symbol. If any Poké Ball is selected, it will be thrown at the Pokémon attacked. The type effectiveness of moves and capture conditions are the same as those in the core series; therefore, reducing the HP of Pokémon with effective moves and using higher grade Poké Balls will both improve the chances of capturing it. If a Master Ball is selected, the player can choose to capture any Pokémon remaining on the game board.
Potential medal payout
If a Pokémon is successfully captured, called Pokémon Get, the player has two options available to them: to bank the medals earned, or add it to their team as a Partner Pokémon. Each captured Pokémon earns the player 5 medals, though some Pokémon may have a Get Bonus ranging from +1 to +3, which are added to the main reward. Capturing multiple Pokémon and forming lines earn combo bonuses, and can also earn the player items. A visual representation of this is present toward the center of the adjacent station areas. The ultimate aim for each game is to achieve a Perfect Combo, which requires the capture of all 9 Pokémon. The table to the right displays the medals earned for each combo at Lv.1 and at Lv.20, as well as any items a combo may award.
If a Meowth or Team Rocket symbol is selected instead of a Poké Ball, it will trigger the appearance of Meowth or the whole Team Rocket trio respectively. If Meowth appears, it will attempt to steal 1 captured Pokémon. If successful, it will replace it with a fresh Pokémon. If the whole Team appears, they will steal all captured Pokémon and replace them with fresh ones, essentially causing the player to start over. Both actions will cause the player to lose potential combo bonuses involving the Pokémon captured, so players may decide to bank a combo bonus upon reaching a certain number of lines in the event they may select Team Rocket. Combo bonuses can be banked at any time, and will reset the game board.
A Special Game in progress
As the normal game is played on adjacent stations, a gauge in between both play areas will increase as Pokémon are caught in either game. Once this gauge reaches the top, the Special Game can begin, but both players must agree to play it. In it, players can launch Poké Balls at the four rows of Pokémon. Weaker Pokémon occupy the bottom two rows, which remain largely stationary. The row above contains fewer but stronger Pokémon, which scroll left and right. The top row contains Legendary Pokémon, which only appear for a short period of time. Each Pokémon has a value next to them, which determines how many medals must be spent in order to catch it. The player also has a choice of Poké Balls to use, which require different amounts of medals to use. A standard Poké Ball costs 1 medal, a Great Ball costs 2, and an Ultra Ball costs 3. For example, an Inkay requires 2 medals to capture, so a player may consider firing 2 Poké Balls at it, 1 Great Ball, or 1 Ultra Ball. As the Pokémon are continually moving, a player may consider using low value Poké Balls in case they miss any Pokémon, thus minimizing an overall loss in medals. This however would make capturing higher tier Pokémon more difficult, as more Poké Balls would be required to catch them. A player therefore may opt for different strategies depending on how many medals they have remaining, or if they want to target higher tier Pokémon. Legendary Pokémon can only be caught in the Special Game, and if one is caught, the player will be given the option to add it to their party. After the Special Game has finished, a high score table is displayed, and the normal game resumes.
There are a handful of Pokémon that can be selected from the start, and the player can choose any Pokémon caught via the normal game and some from the Special Game to be their main Pokémon or Partner Pokémon. Pokémon start with default move sets, and can have up to a maximum of 3 moves. As a Pokémon is used more in a game it may learn more moves. As with the cores series, a player can choose to replace moves with newly learned ones if applicable. Some Pokémon can also evolve through repeated use or Mega Evolve using an item.
A player can have up to 3 Partner Pokémon in addition to their main Pokémon. As already stated, a player may add a Pokémon caught in the game to their party instead of earning any medals for its capture. Doing so will remove it from the game board however, causing any combos created with the space it occupied to be nullified. If a player already has 4 Pokémon in their party when given the chance to add a Pokémon, they can choose which Pokémon to reject. A player can switch Pokémon at any time during the main game using the option under their 3 moves, but doing so costs 6 medals. During gameplay, a random Pokémon may also become useable for 1 turn, potentially offering a useful move to aid in capturing Pokémon on the board. The tables below showcase the movesets of all potential starting Pokémon, and a selection of those that can be acquired in the two stages. All medal values reflect those required at Lv.1.
Items can be bought, randomly appear after so many turns, or are awarded upon successfully creating combos. All items are beneficial to a player and the majority of them activate automatically on the player's next turn. A player can have up to 2 items at any time, which appear either side of a player's main Pokémon. Players can choose to change acquired items by spending 1 medal, or they can buy one by spending 3 medals.
Allows a player to switch their main Pokémon with one of their Partner Pokémon without spending any medals. This item is retained until used by the player.
Ball Rank UP
Activates when the player next throws a Poké Ball at a Pokémon on the game board. As long as Meowth or Team Rocket are not selected, Ball Rank UP will upgrade the selected class of Poké Ball by one.
Activates when the player next throws a Poké Ball at a Pokémon on the game board. As long as Meowth or Team Rocket are not selected, the Master Ball will take the place of whatever Poké Ball is ultimately selected.
Get Challenge +1
Activates after a Poké Ball fails to capture a Pokémon on the game board. Another Poké Ball is thrown at the same Pokémon on the game board.
If the player has any eligible Pokémon when they have this item, it will Mega Evolve.
Doubles the damage of the main Pokémon's next attack. If the player has 2 Damage ×2 items, this effect is increased to ×4.
Get Bonus ×2
Any Pokémon with a Get Bonus caught when the player has this item will have the Get Bonus doubled. If the player has 2 Get Bonus ×2 items, this effect is increased to ×4.