Dealspwn Rating: 8/10
Developer: The Pokémon Company
Slightly remarkably – and somewhat alarmingly – it’s now 14 years since Pokemon was first unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Sheesh. Where has it gone, eh? Mind you, you’re looking good on it. Have you done something with your hair? Very nice. What? And I haven’t aged a bit? Why you’re too kind...
According to both passionate fans of the cult and aging games journalists who never really saw the point of it all, the pinnacle of Pokemon came in 2000 with the release of Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver for the GameBoy Color. The mission side of these games were deep and involving and, on a personal level, certainly wiled away a few weeks of commuting across London.
As is so often the case with things celebrating a 10th anniversary, Nintendo have dusted off these old titles and given them less of a revamp, more a complete overhaul and renamed them HeartGold and SoulSilver. They’ve also added a rather novel twist...
The big twist, aside from the improved graphics you’d expect with the intervening years and, particularly, the evolution of GameBoy Color into DS, is one that’s sure to delight Michelle Obama. It’s called the Pokewalker. Frankly, they can call it what they like, it’s still basically a pedometer / Tamagotchi hybrid. It’s a slightly bizarre concept but, like the best Nintendo creations, it’s actually borderline eccentric genius.
The game, as per, requires to you train your Pokemons (Pokemen?). The more they fight, the more experience they gain, the stronger they become. With the Pokewalker, you can take a Pokemon out of the game and carry it around with you clipped to your belt. By doing so, you’ll earn experience points and make your monstrous little sidekick friendlier and more powerful. When you get home, simply upload your Pokemon back to the main game and enjoy the improved experience. (The Pokewalker also features some built-in extra mini games that unlock extra creatures: creatures that are only accessible, in fact, via this route, so if you’re a Pokemon completist, you’re going to need to get off your backside...
Sadly, however long you spend on foot with your uploaded Pokemon, you can only go up one level: you can’t, for example, clip the device to a passing marathon runner (or dog collar) and create an all-conquering, Godzilla-like, mother of all Pokemon. Even so, it’s a surprisingly successful tweak, so well done Nintendo. If you can just pop along to the White House, I’m sure the First Lady has a prize for you...
Elsewhere, however, this is business as usual for a Pokemon game. Your character is a small, annoyingly perky child on a mission: travel the land, solve puzzles, catch and train the various “pocket monsters” you find, complete challenges and set your Pokemon against those of other junior trainers to become the supreme master.
Given the size of the Pokemon fan community – apparently still quite sizeable after all these years – Nintendo’s “if it ain’t broke” policy is probably a very good thing. This certainly applies to the control system (straightforward and easily picked up) and the nature of the game. What has been changed is the fighting system and, given the increased capacity of the hardware, the size of the game. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to collect all 493 Pokemon and earn all 16 fighting medals. That’s almost double the original, and should keep the devotees happy for several weeks.
As for the fighting system, even a relative novice like yours truly can see an increased reliance in tactics. Fans will claim it has been that way for years. I will never be convinced as it seemed utterly random but this new version is a marked improvement. The use of the stylus makes fights efficient and considerably faster than before (that’s definitely a positive), and extends the attack / defence options.
- Improved graphics and fighting
- The quirky addition of the Pokewalker
- The size of the challenge – this is a massive game which makes it a good value package.
- However you dress it up, it is still a ten year old game – isn’t it time for something new?
- So many pocket monsters out there now you might just lose count
- Only the converted need apply.
The Short Version: Fan of Pokemon? You’re going to be in hog heaven with this huge game. Parents of a Pokemon fan? You’re going to be happy that they might get a little more exercise. Not a fan of Pokemon? This isn’t going to be the title that changes your mind - even if it does come with a gadget.