Review by Anclation

"Barely worth it, even if you're a hardcore Pokemaniac."

Back when Pokemon Black and White Versions 2 were first announced, a lot of fans were pleasantly surprised; instead of just another enhanced remake of the first two games (which so obviously would be known as Pokemon Gray), this time we actually got direct, fully-fledged sequels, continuing the story of Black and White and boasting lots of new content. Though no new Pokemon would strictly speaking be added (this was after all a sequel, not a whole new generation of Pokemon games), several new forms of existing Legendaries were actually included, including two new and improved forms of the Ice Dragon Kyurem, which would serve as the Version Mascots for Black 2 and White 2.

However, the new forms ((known as the Therian Forms) of the legendary trio Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus would not actually be obtainable in the new DS games, nor would they be distributed at promotional events organized by Nintendo (the way fans had gotten Pokemon like Mew and Celebi back in the day). Instead, you would need to buy a 3DS eShop game called Pokemon Dream Radar if you wanted to catch the Therian Forms. In order to make sure people didn't feel ripped off (as well as give Pokemaniacs around the world even more of an incentive to pick up Nintendo's newest handheld console) the game would give the player access to plenty of other Pokemon as well (with rare Dream World abilities, no less), in addition to lots of handy items, all of which could easily be transferred over to Black 2 or White 2. Unfortunately, while Pokemon Dream Radar can certainly help you complete your Pokedex, it ultimately fails in terms of being a worthwhile and enjoyable game.

Concept

That is not to say that the idea behind this game is bad. Pokemon Dream Radar is an Augmented Reality game which uses the Nintendo 3DS camera and motion control technology to bring the world of Pokemon to life in your living room, which could actually have been really cool. If you've ever played Face Raiders (and seeing how it comes preloaded on all Nintendo 3DS systems, chances are that you have) you'll sort of know what to expect in terms of gameplay. However, while the two games play somewhat similarly, PDR is much more repetitive, seeing how most of the game consists of simply shooting clouds and collecting energy orbs. Thousands of them in fact. And yes, it gets really old, really fast.

Graphics & Sound

The visual presentation is also quite disappointing. For starters, the 3D technology isn't being used at all. Now, I know 3D isn't everybody's cup of tea, especially when you're dealing with Augmented Reality, but in the case it turned out to be too much of a good thing you would always have had the option of simply turning the 3D off. As things stand, PDR makes less use of the 3D technology than Face Raiders did, despite being a much more recent release. However, even with 3D support the game wouldn't be very interesting visually; instead of showing different Pokemon appearing wherever you are located, all you see is a bunch of clouds, which turn into energy orbs when you shoot them. If one of the clouds actually contain a Pokemon, you won't actually get to see that Pokemon while trying to catch it, only a bigger energy orb. How exciting. The only Pokemon that you actually get to interact with in this game are in fact the Therian Trio.

At least the music (what little of it there is) is really good. Indeed, the song playing when you're going up against the Therian forms is flat out awesome, and makes your encounters with the Therian Trio a whole lot more exciting than they otherwise would have been, leaving you wanting more. Unfortunately, the game doesn't have much more to offer.

Gameplay

The motion controls actually do work really well, so moving around, aiming and shooting is simple and intuitive. Again, if you've ever played Face Raiders you should feel right in your element. The problem comes with the sheer repetition of the whole thing; as I said, most of the time you're simply shooting clouds and then shooting the energy orbs that appear as a result. If you shoot the energy orbs really quickly, even more of them will appear for you to shoot. However, some of the clouds actually contain larger energy orbs with Pokemon inside of them. An energy orb like this is not quite so easy to pierce, as you have to keep it in your crosshairs while pressing the A button multiple times (making your laser work as some sort of tractor beam) in order to nab the Pokemon or item that lies inside of it. Of course, the orb will fly all over the place while you're trying to do this, and will sometimes even shoot back at you (getting hit reduces the time you have at your disposal to catch it). Your encounters with the Therian forms (the game's "boss fights") play pretty much the same way, the only real difference being the time it takes to capture them.

And that's pretty much it. As you collect more orbs you do get the option of using them to buy different upgrades for your orb-collecting device, and you can also spend your orbs in order to increase the number of Pokemon encounters, or increase the chance of coming across items. However, the core gameplay stays the same, and as such the game quickly becomes a bore. The fact that it's not meant to be played over extended periods of time (after you've collected all the orbs from the available clouds, it takes a while for the clouds to respawn) does not really help matters, since you still have to collect several thousand orbs in order to catch the Therian Trio. A boring, repetitive game does not suddenly become entertaining just because it forces you to take plenty of involuntary breaks.

Value

Since you have to collect so many orbs in order to advance, catching Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus will definitely take you a few hours. That might sound decent enough for a cheap eShop title, but considering what the gameplay consists of I'd actually say it counts against the game, since less really is more when it comes to filler. However, there is more to PDR than the Therian Trio, as there are plenty of other Pokemon that you can obtain through this game, as well as some really neat items. All in all, PDR has 26 different Pokemon on offer, and it's especially kind to fans of the 4th Pokemon generation (as in Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver): Owning any 4th Gen game gives you access to its Version Mascot, Dream World ability and all, provided you have already captured the Therian Trio. Owners of HeartGold and/or SoulSilver are especially fortunate, seeing how both Ho-Oh and Lugia have amazing Dream World abilities that make them even better than they used to be.

There are still some serious downsides, not least when it comes to encountering the Pokemon you're looking for. Be prepared to come across plenty of unwanted 'mons and items as you look for something worthwhile, and while this search is of course part of any Pokemon experience, the difference between PDR and the main games is that here you can only see the Pokemon in question after you've caught it (in the main adventures, you can identify and run away from uninteresting encounters right away), which wastes a lot more time. The fact that the clouds take a while to respawn further limits your ability to quickly find interesting Pokemon. Finally, it should be mentioned that in the case of a lot of Pokemon available in this game, their Dream World abilities are actually worse than their normal abilities, and as such you'd be better off catching the likes of Staryu in Black 2 or White 2 rather than in PDR. Considering how the Dream World abilities are supposed to be something of a selling point for this game, that's quite the letdown.

Closing comments

I really do like the idea behind this game, not only with regards to how it is a 3DS title linking up with the DS Pokemon games and acting as a bridge between generations, but also because Pokemon DLC like this could for me and many others be a much more convenient way of getting rare Pokemon than the other distribution methods (such as promotional events, aka the reason I never got Mew or Celebi). However, while Pokemon Dream Radar may at first glance seem well worth the (admittedly low) price, it can't really be recommended if you value your time as much as your money. As a game, it's boring, time consuming and in many ways lazy. Certain hardcore Pokemaniacs may still find the available content worth the hassle, but the rest of us would be better off trading for the particular Pokemon we're after, or just settling for the impressive selection of Pokemon that are already available in Pokemon Black and White Versions 2. Now those are some games actually worth spending quality time on!


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/12

Game Release: Pokemon Dream Radar (EU, 10/12/12)


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