Review by Da_GTA_Masta
"Same old, same old."
Pokemon Ranger is another spinoff for the Pokemon Franchise. This might be good for hardcore Pokemon fans but for many gamers, spin offs are usually not a good thing (as we saw with the Mystery Dungeon games) but every now and then they do turn out to be pretty well done (as we saw with Final Fantasy Tactics). Pokemon Ranger falls somewhere in between. The gameplay is certainly interesting, but it feels as though its missing something.
The story involves you becoming a Pokemon Ranger and going up against Team Go-Go. As usual for every Pokemon Game the story is simple, and in many ways very charming. This is something that as a whole I've always admired about Pokemon's kid friendly approach. There's nothing about the story so complex a kid couldn't understand it. It's simple, and that's how the story of a Pokemon game should be.
Pokemon Ranger puts a different spin on Pokemon alright. No big trainer battles, or catching Pokemon in the wild (at least by traditional means). Instead, your character, whether you chose male or female, has something called a Styler which is used to capture Pokemon and utilize their abilities. You'll use your stylus in battle to draw circles around the Pokemon in question. The stronger the Pokemon, the longer it'll take for you to capture it. When you do you'll have access to their unique abilities. Once you've used a Pokemon however, that's it. They're released back into the wild. At first this wasn't so bad, but it made the game become repetitive. Almost to the point of boredom.
Mostly, though, there are puzzles you'll have to solve by capturing a certain Pokemon and then making him do a certain task. Most puzzles are no challenge at all, and in most cases, the Pokemon is right there for you to capture. A lot of the puzzles are overly simplistic with obvious solutions, however. So don't expect a vast amount of challenge to these puzzles.
What hurts the game the most however is that it's entirely too linear. You just about can't stray off the beaten path at all. There's little or no time to do so in most spots. The game also isn't very long. It'll definitely take you less than 20 hours to complete. Also to the games demise is how long the intro takes. The tutorial is just too long. It'll take a couple of hours just to get through the tutorial alone.
As far as the game looks, it's not up to DS standards at all. Much like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, it looks like a late generation GBA game. It's really colorful, though, but it just doesn't look all that great when stacked up against other DS games out there. The music and sound effects are worse. The music isn't all that great, and the sound effects are all straight from the original Gameboy Pokemon Red and Blue that were released years ago.
Pokemon Ranger isn't bad, it just feels incomplete. The gameplay mechanics are interesting, but they wear thin all too soon. Huge Pokemon fans will love this game, but it could've been so much better. Anyway this is the last pokemon spin off before diamond and pearl come out and should tie pokemon fans over until then.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/07
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