It’s very easy to be cynical. Indeed, it’s hard not to shake your head at a series that has produced a dozen variants all cut from the same template and generated billions in merchandising. However you start playing and you quickly realise that Nintendo’s staggering sales of 155 million Pokemon cartridges have far more concerning exquisite game design than exploitative marketing. Even anyone who has already lost hours and hours in a quest to “catch ’em all” will discover themselves hooked all over again.
Since there is a bulging roster of 493 critters to trap, raise, battle, preen and breed, inevitably some of 100 Pokemon lack the creativity and charisma of old favourites. However the charm in the pocket monsters remains a key ingredient as to what makes these games so pleasurable. Another crucial component is how convincing, consistent and engaging the planet would be to explore. The Sinnoh region is a wonderful place to visit.
Pokemon’s battle product is simple to learn but surprisingly strategic and tactically deep. Assembling a well-rounded team that can defeat any opponent requires careful thought and proves very satisfying.
The best news for moms and dads is the fact that %anchor1 represent some of the best value the gaming industry provides. Immensely deep and captivating, players can spend dozens upon lots of hours seeking to foil Team Galactic’s nefarious plans as well as exploring underground caverns mining for treasure, entering talent shows, growing and harvesting berries, cooking treats for critters and attempting to capture elusive wild creatures.
Most new features are minor improvements, like the Poketech device, which could serve as a wristwatch, pedometer, radar, notebook and display the status of your own menagerie. The most significant addition is wi-fi internet support, which lets faraway friends battle and trade creatures.
A lot has evolved on the planet of Pokémon since we last visited in Emerald. Obviously, the addition of more than a hundred new creatures – many of which are baby versions or evolutions of older Pokémon, like a pre-evolution of Mantine and new forms for single-stage monsters like Lickitung and Aipom – make up a lot of the excitement that surrounds the coming of those new adventures.
Nevertheless it runs a hell of the lot deeper than only a few new arrivals. The battle system has been reworked in the most important switch to the basic principles of battling since the Special stat was divided into individual attack and inlqrn values after the first games turned out to be a little broken. Where before each move would use a particular stat according to its type alignment (so, fire type moves would use Special Attack while Rock moves would carry on Attack), now each move is classed as either Physical or Special and uses the proper stat. This opens up move set possibilities that will never before have worked and paves the way for most previously overlooked monsters to step up and become legitimate possibilities for competitive play.
And just as new evolutions and move sets attempt to level the playing field somewhat, so too does adding numerous new attacks and abilities. Bug and Ghost types are much better catered for with an array of new attack and support moves, and many older attacks have already been given elemental counterparts, such as Fighting and Water versions of Quick Attack. In addition there are numerous new attacks that will make once unusable Pokémon viable, particularly in 2 vs 2 battles.
Power Trick can change defensive legend Shuckle in to a demon by swapping its minimal attack stat with its astronomical defence; Trick Room lets slower Pokémon attack first for many turns, making the likes of Snorlax and Steelix so much more imposing; moves like Bug Devour and Hurl take advantage of held items (both yours and the opponents) to deal damage accordingly. Whatever type you often favour, you’ll find a minimum of a few helpful new moves here to enhance any move set.