Review by dswizard

"World of Warcraft DS"

Pokemon Ranger Shadow of Almia fits into the recent wave of Pokemon spin-offs that start off fun and engaging, but soon become tiresome. There is a sole but major flaw in the game – the same game engine and play is repeated multiple times through the storyline. After a relatively short amount of play, it leaves you feeling deja vu and not so motivated to carry on playing.

Instead of capturing and training pokemon, you befriend and release them at a fast rate. No levelling up, link battles or general pokemon excitement that comes as standard in the mainstream games. Pokemon are used solely as tools, more like items in an inventory than as lifelike partners. But yet they insist on following your character and crowding the screen. The partner pokemon that does not vanish like every pokemon in the game serves no real purpose, it is just there following you and strengthens you in the battles occasionally.

The only thing that does level up is your “styler level” and rank. A health/power rating and track of your progress through the game. Levelling in this way gives no real satisfaction - there is no clear objective or reward. Aside the storyline are many mundane quests (yes they are called quests) requiring you to perform some pointless and dull task for a character in the game. Expect these characters have no personality, they speak a line or two telling you to do something, you do it, and are rewarded with a power-up that doesn't leave you feeling rewarded whatsoever. Levelling your character for no set objective though boring quests? Like a single playered World of Warcraft.

Graphics and sound are pleasant, and while the game is novel it is an enjoyable experience. But once the novelty of the stylus technique and cosmetics wear off, there is not a lot left.

Download missions allow you to transfer exclusive pokemon over to your Diamond and Pearl games. The Darkrai and Manaphy you may have received at a download tour are not so special now. While the downloads are wifi and time limited, it still feels like an injustice to release these pokemon available to anyone, and for many a sole selling point of this game. Once transferred, even if you erase your save game, they are gone forever. So do not risk buying the game second hand if you intend to download these pokemon.

Gameplay: 3/10. Stale, tiresome and unfulfilling.
Story: 5/10. Nothing new, but appeals in the unique pokemon way.
Graphics/Sound: 8/10. Nice, not perfect but a satisfying RTS style.
Play time: 8/10. A good deal to do, just not the same motivation/reward to actually do it. Nothing on Diamond/Pearl.
Overall: 6/10. Worth a try, but don't expect a great adventure.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/04/09

Game Release: Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (EU, 11/21/08)

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