Category Archives: Reviews

The Nintendo 3DS and the Pokémon Experience: Is Heaven Where This Match Was Made?

Introduction

Whenever writing about Pokémon in general – whether waxing lyrical about the Pokémon RPG adventure of the main-series games or musing about the shortcomings and pitfalls of the many spinoffs – it almost seems an impossible task to sum up the many facets of the franchise for introductory purposes. The adequate condensing of the past fifteen years of Pokémon madness is akin to standing at the foot of a mile-high mountain of books and being required to summarise the information within them within the confines of a small A6 notebook with only a miniature HB pencil: there is simply too much to cover with not enough space in which the information can comfortably fit.

Continue reading

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness Game Review – We’ve Seen These Dungeons Before

Introductions

Spinoffs have somewhat of a bad reputation in the gaming world. Not only does the spinoff have to do everything in its power to do some justice to the original game’s gameplay, but it also has to answer to an angry, impatient mob of distrustful fans. Fans that are likely waiting impatiently with a glare in their eye that reflects their hope that the game will fail and a finger on their mouse that hovers over the ‘Post New Thread’ button of a V-bulletin board in the ‘Spinoff Sceptics’ section. Sequels to a spinoff are at even more of a disadvantage, since if its predecessor was successful it has to live up to this triumph by coming up with the dreaded second album and if the game it succeeds was a failure, then the sequel is already on the back foot and has a lot to answer for, and has pretty much everything to prove. Having not been bowled over by Blue Rescue Team (it missed the strike and also failed to get the spare), Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, along with its sister title Explorers of Time, has a lot to improve upon for existing fans of the series, and also much to prove to new players if is to have even the slightest chance of adding to their fan base.

Continue reading

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team Game Review – The First of the spinoff failures

Introduction

After years of Pokémon-related experience and having been witness to the development of the gaming branch of the franchise over the years, I have come to learn a few important lessons to lessen the blow that so many fans take so personally after purchasing and playing the most recently-released Pokémon title. Firstly, unrealistic expectations will lead to immeasurable levels of disappointment (which is apparently best expressed in a disgruntled fashion on any online fan forum with the tap of the ‘Caps Lock’ key). Secondly, never send a dragon to deal with a dragon. The final lesson – and this one is perhaps the key to eternal happiness and avoidance of Pokémon-related dissatisfaction amongst the young – is to never trust a Pokémon spinoff. The series of games that is responsible for my fundamental mistrust of any Pokémon spinoff and my predisposition to generally hate said type of game is the doomed-from-the-start, shambolic arranged marriage that is the successive Pokémon Mystery Dungeon titles. This failure of unions all began with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team, and what I can’t even begin to fathom is why this uncomfortable relationship hasn’t yet ended in a bitter and hostile divorce.

Continue reading

Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia Game Review – A spinoff with a refreshing capacity to entertain

Gentle Anticipation

Whenever I set about putting any Pokémon spinoff into my 3DS, I always do so with a noticeable hesitation and a heavy sigh that clearly indicates the general level of expectations of what I am about to play . Perhaps my view is distorted by Pokémon-tinted glasses, but I’ve just never managed to get along with most, if not all of the titles that are extrinsic to the main series of Pokémon games. It’s not that I have a closed mind to change and advancement of the ideas posited by the spinoffs, I just haven’t yet played any spinoff that has been truly enjoyable, worth my time, or even worth half of the money that it costs to buy them. My previous experience of Pokémon Ranger wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, but the idea in general, as well as the mechanics of the gameplay showed significant promise over the other spinoffs I’ve experienced. With a mighty three calendar years between Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia and its predecessor (which is also the series’ original game), the feelings that accompanied the insertion of the game into my 3DS were of mild excitement and gentle anticipation. So, can the sequel live up to these reasonable expectations?  As usual, there’s no straight answer to this question.

Continue reading

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time Game Review – Dungeons really aren’t that fun

Introduction

You can pretty much say anything you want about Pokémon, since I’m of the undying opinion that the core series of games from Red and Blue to Black and White Versions 2 are absolute gaming gold. Unfortunately, the same most definitely cannot – or at least should not – be said about pretty much any of the spin-offs that carry the Pokémon name while (in my opinion) abusing and tarnishing it in the process. While there have been some moderately enjoyable offering such as Super Pokémon Rumble, titles like Pokémon Conquest and Pokémon Snap simply fail to capture the magic that the main series of games have always seemed to possess. With these thoughts in mind, it is easy to imagine just how much enthusiasm I was lacking in when popping Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time into my 3DS to see what had changed since its predecessor, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team. To be fair, my findings were a mixed bag with a few surprises and some occasional meeting of my expectations (which were low in the first place), but some very spectacular falling short of said expectations as well.

Continue reading

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Game Review

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Game

Introduction

If it is one thing that Pokémon most definitely is, it is consistent. Year after year, each generation sees the release of paired titles of varying colour, with sequels and/or expansions to the corresponding covers being released in the following years. On the gameplay level, the consistency continues to permeate every single main-series game, and without fail each title sees us battling, capturing Pokémon and training them up, as well as adhering to the usual formula of battling gym leaders and then an elite four to become the champion. So it seems counter-intuitive that Pokémon would exist in a format that is anything other than entirely quantifiable, predictable, and absolutely consistent. The Mystery Dungeon series of Pokémon games represent a true break from the predictable and quite literally a journey into the random, the unpredictable and the ever-changing. The fifth title in the Mystery Dungeon series, ‘Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky’ is a continuation of the basic idea, which involves entering into randomly-generated dungeons to battle against Pokémon at your leisure. Sound appealing to you? Then please continue, as there is more information to follow, with a few of my own opinions scattered in here and there for good measure.

Continue reading

Pokémon Black Version Game Review: Black is the New White (and vice versa)

pokemon black version game

Off the Wagon

Pokémon is more than just a game: it’s an institution. I’m not simply referring to the fact that it is a global media franchise comprised of a multiplicity of elements including films, a number of anime series, trading cards (I still consider Shiny Dark Charizard to be the most valuable possession I own), merchandise, and even a Pokémon-plastered plane; the video games alone formed the backbone of what constituted light entertainment during my teenage years. Sure, I can’t claim to have that many friends, but boy did I have a lot of Pokémon to make up for it. Though I slowly grew out of my 100-Pokéballs-a-day habit, I cannot deny the attention that Pokémon games command from me, and my intrigue grows with each generation that passes. I was mildly curious by generation III, generation IV turned my head, but by Pokémon Black and the fifth generation of Pokémon games, I was sweating profusely and at breaking point. Having read many positive reviews but not being one to trust the opinion of pretty much anyone on the internet, I finally snapped and decided to ingest what Pokémon Black Version had to offer me. I shake my fist at you, Game Freak; you’re fuelling an addiction that took me years to break.

Continue reading

Pokémon Dream Radar Review – A space between dreams and (Pokémon-based) reality

pokemon dream radar

Introduction

Though my faith in the main series of Pokémon games has been subject to a gentle ebb and flow, my belief in their ability to entertain me no matter what the generation or title of game has remained pretty much constant. My consistently positive feelings towards Pokémon tend not to extend beyond the core series, however, with the very mention of spin-offs almost sending a sickening shudder down the length of my spine, since a spin-off inevitably means the altering, “enhancing”, or indeed butchering of the main-game style of play. Pokémon Conquest just didn’t do it for me and Pokémon Snap was a laughable offering. Pokémon Dream Radar on the other hand is cheaply-priced application for the Nintendo 3DS that promises augmentation in both the context of virtual reality and the gameplay of Pokémon Black and White Version 2; an evaluation of its merits and pitfalls shall follow.

Continue reading

Pokémon White Version Game Review: Pokémon as we both have and haven’t seen it before

pokemon white version game

Not Even Once

If it’s one thing that we can rely on Pokémon to provide for us, it is consistency. Many years have passed since the first generation of games, and these years have seen many, many Pokémon games with the perhaps the greatest difference between them being the ever-changing names that appear to be taking inspiration from the visible spectrum of colours. What the series lacks in revolutionary shake-ups between titles, however, it makes up for in depth of gameplay. Pokémon has always involved engaging battles, a wealth of creatures to catch and develop, and perhaps most importantly, a turn-based battle mechanic that deserves its own ‘not even once’ advertising campaign due to its tantalising potential to create addicts of even first-time players.

Continue reading

Pokémon Conquest Game Review – Conquer lands with Pokémon as your weapons

pokemon conquest game

Introduction

I’ve been a violently enthusiastic fan of the main series of Pokémon games since the birth of the concept in generation one of the games, and though this enthusiasm waned somewhat with each generation that passed, it returned once again with the most recent games of the fifth generation, Pokémon Black and White version 2. The wildly simple turn-based system of gameplay and the seemingly endless catalogue of creatures to collect and use in your adventure seems to be a winning combination, and I have always been a firm believer that I would not be able to enjoy the Pokémon franchise in any other form. Pokémon Conquest of course bears all the marks and seals of the Pokémon brand, only this time it appears to be spliced with the gameplay style of Nobunga’s Ambition, a turn-based RPG in which contains feudal principles of war and person-on-person battles. The two game styles appear about as soluble as oil in water. My scepticism about this attempted marriage of the two genres led me to playing Pokémon Conquest with view to jotting down a few of my thoughts about it; it was nothing less than extensively surprised at the result.

Continue reading

Pokédex 3D Pro Review – Your ultimate Pokédex solution where Pokémon come to life.

Introduction

While the fun of the Pokémon experience lies partially in the repeated battling of trainers, the recurring defeat of Team Plasma and their pesky, interfering ways or even the constant domination of your rival throughout the game, the true core of the experience lies in the amassing and training of the Pokémon themselves. Throughout the game, you see your Pokédex fill up with all the creatures you encounter, allowing you to catalogue your expanding collection and view the living spoils of your adventure in an orderly and aesthetically-pleasing fashion. For the more hardcore fans of Pokémon out there, however, the in-game Pokédex may simply not be enough to quench your thirst for Pokémon-related novelties. Enter Pokédex 3D Pro, a comprehensive and vastly expanded version of the original Pokédex 3D title. Smooth, detailed 3D models of over six hundred Pokémon await your perusal, accompanied by supplementary information, quizzes, augmented reality capability and a move list more comprehensive than Sky’s merciless coverage of football that seems to be on all the time.

Continue reading