on September 25, 2006
Well, there was no way I was going to miss out on this one. I had my copy reserved since August, and on September 19 I was the first one to the store to bring home this game, which I had already determined in my mind as the best game ever. You get to play as a Pokemon, after all!
Needless to say, I was kinda disappointed. But I'll start with the things I liked.
The personality quiz at the beginning is very cool. The questions are random, so it's difficult to cheat, and the results are pretty darn accurate in my opinion. After being assigned my Pokemon (it was Pikachu, if anyone cares), I got into the real game.
The story is very cute, and even has some moments of drama or suspsense, surprisingly enough. All the Pokemon you meet (save for the wild ones you battle) have real personalities, and the best one of all is the special "partner" you get to choose at the beginning of the game, who adores you and follows you everywhere. Overall, it has much more of a plot than the normal Pokemon games, and Pokemon make better characters than humans anyway.
As for the gameplay, the controls are pretty intuitive, and the AI manages not to deserve banishment to the black lagoon (not that it's great, mind you. It's just passable).
So, what don't I like about this game? Well, for starters, it's very repetitive. Since the dungeons are randomly-generated, every adventure amounts to a series of simple enemy-filled mazes. This isn't so bad in the beginning, when the dungeons are small, but towards the end it's extremely boring. The final dungeon in story mode has a grand total of 35 floors, for crying out loud!
Making this worse is that the items, too, are random. You may get several great TMs, or you may wind up with squat. You may pick up tons of food on the ground, or you may starve (which causes fainting). Since some of the missions involve bringing a certain item to a Pokemon, this can get frustrating.
Another upsetting element is the "catching" of Pokemon. This part of the game is--you guessed it--random. After you beat an enemy, it may offer to join up with you. The problem is, this doesn't happen nearly enough. The only way to increase the odds of a joinup is to be at a much higher level than the potential teammate, and by then their joining you will be pointless anyway since they'll be too weak for you. So unless you want to spend hours trying, you'll pretty much have the same basic team for the majority of your play.
Finally, as a reviewer above me mentioned, many things that could have broken up the monotony are "saved" for after the credits roll. Despite raising my partner Chikorita to level 35, they refused to let her evolve even once until the end, when she went all the way to Meganium in one shot! I also never got to control any other Pokemon 'till after the ending, and by then I was bored of the game and didn't care. This really upset me, especially since I was wondering throughout the entire game when I would get to evolve!
So overall, should you get this game? Well, if you're up for something pretty quick (10-15 hours), love Pokemon, and don't mind being slightly bored, go for it. But on the other hand, there are tons of great games coming out this season, and it really might be better to wait for one of them. I almost wish that I had.