PTD 2: A detailed look on the game so far...
Just Like Riding a Bicycle: Joey Returns With PTD2
To this very day, Pokemon Tower Defense still stands as one of the best browser based flash games we have ever played. It had graphics that brought out all the love and nostalgia that fans of Pokemon had for the series. The music was loyal to the source, making every player feel as if they were enjoying a game that was part of the canon series. The gameplay was simple, yet unbelievably clever, showing us all a new way to play and enjoy Pokemon.
If that was not enough, the game also integrated a massive database of Pokemon to collect and a very active community of players with whom you can interact, and more importantly, trade with. This gave the original PTD game an immense replay value that could only be matched by the most successful of integrated social games.
Now the geniuses behind Sam and Dan games are back, and this time, with a promise of an all new PTD game that goes beyond what the original gave us. And from the little samplers that they have put up, we have been left craving more.
Just a Teaser, for Now
For those of you who are already fans of the original PTD, calm down. If you head over to the official SND site, the only thing available is a proof of concept demo. Pokemon Tower Defense 2 is still a work in progress and the official release date for it has yet to be announced. Yes, anyone hoping to get their hands on a fully functional game will be sorely disappointed because we are still a long way from that.
Still, there is plenty to be learned from the demo; little details that hint at all the big features that will be implemented later on are present. All you have to do (to see what PTD2 is about) is play what is currently available.
Existing Accounts are Active
The first thing that you will notice upon playing the game is that it will ask you for a login. New fans of the series will have to sign up for an account, but existing SND users will be happy to see this ever-familiar screen. Pokemon Tower Defense 2 will recognize your existing account and will host your save file online (the same with the first game). However, data from your PTD game will not have any effect on the demo.
This is great news for existing players since this raises hopes for everyone that achievements and earnings from the first game may be carried over to the second. Of course, it is entirely up to the devs to decide on how that will be implemented, but the fact that it uses a singular account per user makes us keen to believe that some sort of data carry over will be implemented.
It has to be pointed out that in the official Pokemon games, carrying over data from an old generation game to a new generation game is not a simple matter –you must literally finish the newer game before you are able to bring in content from the older game. This is done to help players appreciate the new Pokemon that are available (as opposed to relying on older Pokemon that have been strengthened in the previous game). It is quite possible that a similar rule may be implemented with PTD2 in order for players to appreciate the level of challenge that the story mode offers.
In any case, the fact that the login is still present maintains the fact that a trading and community system will be implemented for PTD2. The only question is if content from the older game will be carried over to this new one.
Story Mode is Back
While trading seems to be the main feature of PTD, having a coherent story mode has been one of our favorite aspects of the game. In the original game, you follow the misadventures of an SND original character, Joey, in an alternate future timeline of the Pokemon World (just enough years for Ash/Red to be a full grown adult).
PTD2’s demo story mode puts you in control of an all new character, and you begin with a dream sequence meeting with the three starter Pokemon for Heartgold and Soulsilver. As you converse with the three Pokemon, you will be hounded by their duplicates. The match that follows is pretty straightforward: you get to bring out one Pokemon at a time and it will automatically attack the target before it.
This feels a little different from the traditional Tower Defense mode that is prevalent in the original games. In fact, the new one-on-one combat makes PTD2’s demo seem like a completely different title altogether. Fans of the TD system need not worry though. Apparently, the point of the teaser is to introduce fans to a new game mode, but this does not mean that the TD system has been thrown out the window.
Once again, plenty of emphasis is placed on selecting the right Pokemon for the right enemy. Each of the three Pokemon available has their own elemental strengths and weaknesses –and selecting which one is the most advantageous against the enemy before it is the key to victory. Any fan of the real Pokemon games will recognize this rock-paper-scissors factor as an essential part of the series.
After defeating all three duplicates, the new hero wakes from his dream sequence and the story demo ends. While short, this bite-sized teaser brings out many new features that players will certainly appreciate about the game.
New Game Modes
While it has yet to be announced what extra game modes are going to be available, the devs have decided to let us all in on one mini-game: a special one-on-one match against various trainers of different generations.
The mini-game starts off with its’ own side story: Joey is sent by Professor Oak into the PokeMatrix in order to help him increase his skills as a Pokemon Trainer. In this virtual world, Joey must make use of a limited range of Pokemon against various enemies.
The game will recognize and automatically save your progress in the battles. However, if you lose, you will have to start from the beginning. The only benefit is that more Pokemon will be made available the further you get through the game. Losing matches will be a pretty common event as there is no way that a Caterpie or a Weedle could possibly do well against higher tier Pokemon –you will have to start from the beginning with a better Pokemon as your initial pick.
This mode is made even more fun by the fact that each battle is pretty unique –one that stands out the most is when Joey faces off against a virtual simulation of the young Ash/Red. In this stage, the graphics are done in 8-bit black and white –reminiscent of the original Gameboy graphics. The graphics shift serves a stark contrast to the new 32-bit style sprites and animations that are used in PTD2.
With any sequel (and for that matter, any new game release), there is plenty of emphasis put on how much the graphics have improved, and with PTD2, the verdict on this category is still up in the air.
Currently, the game’s main visuals are a whole lot better –playing more to the style of the crisp sprites, detailed backgrounds, and smooth animations that are found on the later releases of Pokemon for the Nintendo DS. Fans will certainly appreciate the eye-candy, but the real change is in the user interface.
UI is a major factor in PTD because all the other game content is based off Nintendo’s official releases. The in-game menus on the other hand, all come from the folks at SND. The original PTD game had very functional and easy to use menus for organizing your Pokemon roster and controlling your units in combat. With PTD2, these menus seem to be lined up for a massive revamp –but just how far is something we have yet to find out.
At the moment, the biggest change we have seen is with the attack controls for your Pokemon. Clicking on a Pokemon in combat no longer brings up a status menu that allows you to choose your next attack carefully. You must click on one of the four available attacks per Pokemon to change their behavior. This is all done in real time so it is to the player’s advantage to slow down the game speed prior to tinkering with the menus.
Speaking of changing the game speed, the menus for that and for the volume controls have also been enhanced. They look smaller and are less obtrusive, though this may be an issue since new players may end up completely unaware that they are there at all.
The Waiting Game
It will still be quite some time before this game gets its much deserved launch. With no news of a closed beta test at all, it is hard to determine how far along the assembly line PTD2 truly is. Regardless of that variable, you can expect that there will be plenty of fans to play this game when it finally comes out –and you can count us among that ever-growing crowd.