Pokemon Tower Defense 2: Generations
Sam & Dan have currently developed 12 story mode levels of the second pokemon game.
Read our first feedback on the second game below or share your thoughts with other visitors about what you think of the second game so far on the left...
Sam and Dan's Pokemon Tower Defense: Generations - An addictive tower defence game wrapped in a Pokemon skin
To protect the world from devastation, to unite all people within our nation...I would like to make it clear that I have stopped my recitation of the Team Rocket introductory theme song at this point not because I am unfamiliar with the rest of it (a fact which I am simultaneously proud and ashamed of), but because I would like to get down to the task of pushing ‘Pokemon Tower Defense: Generations’ to the forefront of the entertainment section of your squishy, fun-hungry brain. I have happened upon this game recently and it is one of the very few games of the tower defence genre that I have played and actually gone on to enjoy. Aside from the fact that the game’s appearance and music is heavily based on the original Pokémon games for the Gameboy, it is unique in its blending of tower defence, role-playing and action-game characteristics. Possessing a definite storyline, the requirement of strategic thinking from the player and a refreshingly light-hearted approach to the genre, this game will provide all the flavours of Pokémon but without the hefty price tag.
Firstly, when a game has ‘Pokemon’ in the title, I will never, ever be convinced of its value to me as entertainment or indeed it’s worthiness of using the great Pokemon name unless it actually contains at least one of the themes from the original game boy games. I’m not talking about this post first generation rubbish like Pokemon Silver, Gold, Ruby or Sapphire, since it is a recognised and empirically proven fact that all the games after Pokemon Yellow were in fact terrible (There are still only 151 Pokemon as far as I’m concerned). It takes a creative individual to imagine the delight on my judgemental, eternally-disgruntled face when opening ‘Sam and Dan’s Pokemon Tower Defense: Generations’ and hearing the crunchy, tin-like marching snare and memorable introductory melody that only the Nintendo GameBoy could produce, and could only be the wandering music from the original and best Pokemon games.
Now, before the word ‘Pokemon’ loses all of its meaning, I’d better furnish you with the basics of Pokemon Tower Defense 2. With the tower defence genre standing firmly at its heart, ‘Pokemon Tower Defence 2: Generations’ attempts to give this genre a little twist by adding in features of an RPG such as the inclusion of a main character whom which you control and a definite (if a little silly) storyline to follow. Strategy is also a requirement of the game, with your selection of Pokemon and moves which they possess being the fundamental factors which decide whether you win or lose a particular battle. Items which are beneficial to your Pokémon such as health potions and power ups like Rare Candy (a feature of the original Gameboy games which allow your Pokémon to level up) are also available for you to purchase with coins which are won through winning battles.
The game is played by simply using your mouse to navigate through the menu screens and battle scenes, with the directional arrows being used to control Joey (the main character and poor man’s Ash Catch’em) in the intermediate sections where you are free (to a limited extent) to roam the environment around you. The general procedure, whether in story or 1vs1 mode, is that once you encounter an enemy and the battle begins, you drag whichever Pokémon you have in your possession into the pre-designated battle zone. Adhering to the true essence of Pokémon battles, you are only allowed to have one equipped at any one time, but are allowed up to six of them in your arsenal which you can bring into play at your leisure, provided you drag your active Pokémon out of the battle arena first. Once the battle begins, the currently-active Pokémon will perform whichever attack it is set to use repeatedly until it is either victorious, defeated or told to use a different attack by the player. Depending on how many attacks the Pokémon currently has, you can instruct your Pokémon to perform different attacks by pressing the keys which correspond to them such as Z and X (the actual keys vary depending on your moves but are kindly indicated on screen).
To play the game you must first register with an email address and password; I have seen some overly harsh comments made on various websites about being required to do this, and I couldn’t sympathise any less with them. After all, the game is still free and it doesn’t require actual registration, it is simply a tool for saving your progress so that you can return later. Due to the lengthy and engrossing nature of the game, you are going to need this save-your-game function, otherwise you are in for a very disappointing and severely frustrating experience akin to that of losing all your lives in the original Super Mario Bros game, back when saving was for wussies and for those who could afford a better console.
In its earlier versions, the only truly playable mode in the game was 1vs1. In this mode you follow the daring adventures of Joey (he isn’t quite Ash Catch’em, but he’ll do for a flash game) and play your way through Professor Oak’s Pokématrix; my enthusiasm at the inclusion of professor Oak in the game was unbridled and the humorous, self-referential dialogue that is exchanged between Joey and his acquaintances makes playing 1vs1 mode an incredibly enjoyable experience. Occasional in-jokes, references to the original Pokemon games and even allusions to the (in my opinion) underrated TV show are indicative of the Sam and Dan’s good-natured sense of humour, making true Pokemon fans feel right at home while providing a means of access to the game for those who aren’t so familiar with the Pokemon universe. This means that regardless of prior knowledge or experience of the pocket-monster universe or even tower defence games in general, the player is able to pick up the game with incredible ease.
Of course, there are some aspects of the 1vs1 game (and by extension, Story mode) which require a little practice in order for the player to get to grips with them: such particulars include the attacking procedures once a battle starts and learning the different strengths and weaknesses of each Pokemon depending on its type and method of attack. With the game possessing such a rich selection of Pokemon, and each of these Pokemon in turn possessing their own types, levels and attacks, there are a considerable number of variables to get to grips with. After involving myself in only a few battles, however, I found these variable very easy to get to grips with and they posed very little problem from that moment onwards. Play it for yourself and you will see what I mean.
I suggest you think of 1vs1 as a training ground in which you can feel free to thrash out a few battles to become accustomed to the unusual yet intriguing blend of the tower defence, RPG and strategy genres. 1vs1 mode is as close to the roaming battle format that is typical of the Pokémon games of yore. Instead of following a story and pitting you against multiple enemies at any one time in a given location as is the norm for tower defence titles, you encounter and battle your opponents on a one to one basis and in fair and true combat style. Much like an exotic cocktail purchased from an unfamiliar bar, the game can be quite overwhelming at first; the individual flavours each competing for your attention and leaving you awash with confusion and doubt, but as you become accustomed to the experience and its particular variety of flavour, you find yourself beginning to enjoy it. Now I’m not sure whether I’m enjoying the game or whether I’m just thirsty for a Manhattan.
Pretty much everything about 1vs1 mode is in some way an homage to the original Pokemon games; everything from original 8-bit soundtrack to the areas in which Joey battles in the virtual world of the Pokématrix including Oak’s own house and Veridian forest (where you can actually roam around in the grass to capture Pokemon as you do in the original game). I was particularly amused at the ‘flashbacks’ which happen to Joey where the artwork becomes identical to the original Gameboy title and brings Ash Catch’em back for a little cameo appearance.
I was distinctly impressed with the ever-evolving nature of the game: after all, it originally it only included the 1vs1 option with no story mode whatsoever, but due to the ongoing development efforts of Sam and Dan, the game is being updated (or so we’re told) as more additions and options are created and refined. The addition of story mode allows much more depth to the game and brings it from the level of merely an excellent tower defence game to something that is truly worth investing your time in (if you enjoy these sort of games that is; those not accustomed to the genre or enthusiastic about its traits, get out now). Such is the extent of the ever-happening update process that there are some menu buttons which are not yet accessible and a constant reminder at the top of the screen overlays the action with the words ‘Work in Progress’. With the game constantly changing and being added to, the long-term player will most definitely appreciate the frequent additions and care being taken of their favourite title.
In contrast to the original game, you are given the ability to actually move around the levels in story mode, exploring the surroundings and interacting which objects, which is a nice distinction from the original where you were limited to the game’s format of selecting from a set of predetermined levels. You may now use your arrow keys and explore the map thoroughly, denoting a sense that you are involved in a true adventure, which is all that Ash Catch’em ever would have wanted. Beginning with some eccentric interaction with Professor Oak, Story mode begins by selecting some user-specific details such as gender, name and which version of Pokémon you wish the game to take its variable aspects from. At this point the game almost lost me as a fan due to my allegiance to the original 151 Pokémon, but I soldiered on nonetheless because after all, the game so far had impressed me to a significant degree.
Story mode includes its own tutorial woven seamlessly into the gameplay in the form of Joey himself explaining the movement controls and giving you a chance to practice them by guiding him through his home, which is the place you begin your wonderful adventure. The ‘Z’ button or ‘Spacebar’ is used to interact with objects and characters around him. Upon exploring the local area and finding the lab in which three Pokéballs reside, you are charged choosing your first Pokémon, selecting from Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile. Now, as a fan of the original Pokémon and being ignorant of anything beyond those titles, I have no idea who these Pokémon are but for the sake of the game, you must choose your first companion and stick with it. From this point onwards, you must train, battle and develop your Pokémon into maturity.
Story mode is filled with challenges that are simply variations on the strictly battle-oriented gameplay of 1vs1 mode. Such challenges include situations where you are able to place Pokémon in multiple battle positions in order to face multiple opponents. Your first challenge, for example, is protecting the professor’s Pokémon from the shadow Pokémon, who are attempting to steal them. This mode is where the tower defence aspect of the game really shines through, since you have the ability to make positional choices, placing your Pokémon at the optimum position to defend against waves of attacks. Story mode continues in this manner with challenges of increasing difficulty, which you must overcome by catching, training and battling with new Pokémon that you encounter along the way.
During the battles themselves, it is entirely up to you which Pokémon you decide to use and in what order. As you continue to play the game, you will become accustomed to the different requirements of each battle, learning that some Pokémon types are more effective against others, and even down to the details of which move will be more effective against the enemy you are currently facing. You have the option of changing the characteristics of the attack which is currently in use including the speed and intensity of the attack.
Story mode gives you the ability to save your progress, which is a characteristic that most RPG games possess, and is one that is pretty much essential in this game due to the level of investment involved in developing your Pokémon and their abilities. The storyline unfolds as you travel, battle and converse wittily through the different areas within the game, starting with New Bark Town, moving on to Route 29, Cherrygrove City and travelling through Routes 30, 31 and 46. All of these areas are similar in nature to the locations in the Pokémon games for Gameboy; this familiarity is a pleasant feature of the game which gives a sense of continuity and sense that it is a home away from home for fans of the Pokémon World. The adherence to the original games is nothing short of admirable.
As a battle begins and your Pokémon collection grows, you must choose which Pokémon to first send out into battle; in the first few fights of story mode, you are limited to the few Pokémon in your possession (beginning with only one), but as story mode progresses and your collection becomes more varied and abundant, your particular strategic choices begin to have an ever-increasing effect on the outcome of the battles. In particular, it is sensible to pay attention to the levels of your Pokémon, with your starting creature being at a mere level five. Perhaps your worries will diminish when you realise that the enemies you fight at this stage are usually this level or lower, making your battles at very least evenly matched, if not advantageous in your favour. If your levels do happen to be unfairly contrasting in the favour of the enemy, it pays to vary your attacks, using the starting moves of your Pokémon which are often intended to increase you defence and reduce the effectiveness of the enemies’ attacks and ability to defend themselves.
Positioning of the Pokémon is also a crucial factor in determining the battle’s outcome. For example, the first real battle involves defending Oak’s remaining two Pokémon against attackers which enter from below; when dragging your Pokémon from the bottom of the screen and into the battle zone, you are given the choice of multiple zones in which to place your Pokémon. Choosing the point with maximum coverage of the entrance allows maximum attacking potential for the highest number of potential opponents: such is the nature of this Pokémon-infused tower defence game. Cunning use of the items available for purchase also gives you an advantage in battle, allowing you to do things such as heal your Pokémon with potions or increase the level of your Pokémon with rare candy.
The main attraction of the game, aside from the challenging nature of the tower defence format, is the acquisition and development of your particular Pokémon from untamed, untrained and frankly pathetic examples of fantasy-based wildlife into your own personal army of high-level minions of your heroic crusades. The challenge of creating something from almost nothing provides a sense of longevity for the game, being akin to what Sam and Dan themselves refer to as ‘creating replayability’. This description is entirely accurate, since the game is incredibly challenging and requires a significant amount of effort and long-term dedication in order to come close to completing it. Clear your schedule, it’s about to be filled with hours upon hours of Pokémon Tower Defence 2.
Continue Reading our views on PTD 2 so far
Pokemon Tower Defense 2: Johto's Shadow is under constant development, when it's development is finalised we shall notify you on this page.