Review by gamecube101

"Get it for Manaphy, if nothing else"

Now when I heard you could get manaphy only if you owned Pokemon Ranger I (as well as other pokemon fanatics) rushed to the nearest game stop to pick one up. Great marketing ploy, but was the game worth it in the end? Well, let me tell you right now: It's addicting. Really, really addicting. I couldn't put it down. However, it also got me extremely frustrated and annoyed. So, you'll end up playing through story mode, but your enjoyment level is a whole different story.

So you start off as a pokemon ranger, and your mission is to save pokemon in trouble by capturing them with a “styler,” and enlisting them in your service. Once they help you out or you leave the area, they're gone. So the only pokemon you'll really have as your own is a plusle or minun, depending on your gender. You think for your only pokemon you'd get something cool, but you get a plush toy. Whatever. They are usually helpful in battle, so I'll let it slide. To walk around you can guide your ranger with the DS pen, or you can use the D-pad. The only annoyance here is when using the touch screen; it would delay a couple seconds before entering or leaving a building or area, just enough time for another wild pokemon to attack me. So, I preferred the D-pad, but there isn't a huge difference. The big part of the game, the pokemon battles, are very strange. Once you engage a pokemon in battle, you'll see it just wander around on the touch screen. You need to consecutively circle it a number of times, depending on the pokemon, to successfully capture it. Now, if the pokemon attacks or bumps into the line, you'll lose some hit points. If you reach zero, you lose and start from your last save point. Pokemon have a myriad of attacks, from breathing fire at or charging the line. When you have to circle it ten times and it's bashing your rings and breaking them like a maniac, wouldn't some pokemon be simply impossible? That's where recruited pokemon and your partner come in. Plusle and minun can each electrocute the pokemon, paralyzing it for a few seconds for an easier capture. You can find all kinds of pokemon with different, sometimes lifesaving abilities in a tough match, so try to recruit all you can. Which brings me to another point: most battles are ridiculously easy, like close- your- eyes- and- move- your- pen- around- as- fast- as- you- can- and- you'll- catch- them easy. Then, others are incredibly difficult. Charizard, near the end of the game, for example, walks slowly but shoots flame balls into the air, which rain down and sit as puddles of lava. You try to circle him fifteen plus times, but even with paralyzing him, it's nearly impossible. It's incredibly hard to draw circles without hitting the numerous lava puddles, and oh yeah, he'll breathe fire at you to boot. That's what I'm talking about: haphazard difficulty settings. Some battles will be a breeze, others you'll be breaking your pen in frustration. Although the game play is swift and smooth, the story progresses quickly, and you'll find yourself playing it all the way through, even if you are ready to rip your hair out at points.

The story in Ranger is that you grow up as an ordinary kid, but you really want to be a pokemon ranger. So, they give you a chance to prove yourself and (when you do) you become a ranger. Then you're set on many missions, from rescuing old men to thwarting the evil schemes of… Team Go-Rock? That's right, just when you thought evil guys in pokemon weren't going to get dumber, these guys come along. They play music and want to be regarded as better than rangers, so they go around trying to screw you up. Which is annoying, but usually not too difficult to deal with. The story is a solid one, better than most pokemon stories you'll get, so aside from the evil team, there's not too much to complain about here. The story flows smoothly and works nicely.

The graphics in pokemon ranger are solid. Much like the plot, they're nothing incredible, but they work well for the DS. The animations are mostly smooth, the colors blend well and aren't an eyesore, and overall you get a pretty good score in the graphics department in this game. The sound is also good, there are a couple annoying tunes, but it's mostly your pokemon fare, which works pretty well with the game overall. In the graphics and sound departments, the game works pretty well.

The game plays for a solid amount of time, I logged a bit under twenty hours playing through story mode. After that you can go around and try to recruit every pokemon (which takes a while) and of course, get a manaphy by doing an extra mission. So, in the end, the game is fairly good, it is addicting as well as really frustrating. If you want manaphy, go ahead and get the game. You might just enjoy yourself in the process as well.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/15/08

Game Release: Pokemon Ranger (US, 10/30/06)

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