Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
I’ll be honest and start this review with a double confession. First of all I’ve never played a Pokémon game, let alone watch the series on TV. Yes, hard to believe, isn’t it? But it gets harder to believe. This is the first time I got a Nintendo DS in my hands. Whether this made it double as hard to check out this game, you’ll find out by reading further.
That I wasn’t acquainted with a Nintendo handheld isn’t an obstacle for this game. Once having pushed the power button everything is quite easy to follow. You can choose between using the stylus or the standard buttons. I needed some getting used to watching two screens, but the makers have gone about this quite well. The top screen usually shows the map of the island or information on the Pokémon. The actual action screen is of course smaller than a PC or TV screen but the graphics are sharp and decent enough. Even shadows of the characters aren’t missing.
What I immediately noticed from the cover is that the game can be played as of the age of 3. although I do have questions with a 3 year old holding a DS, it quickly becomes clear that the enfant better has English as native language as although the manual is multi-language, the game itself isn’t.
At the start of your adventure you can choose whether to play with a male of female character but this choice doen’t influence the game at all. Next to the quite extensive manual, there’s quite a lot of background information you need to go through at the start and the makers would have done better to shorten this a bit as it doesn’t really encourage you to start playing. By the end of it you’ve seen enough text for the rest of the game, but the makers just keep pushing more and more towards you. Personally I found this to slow down Pokémon, but maybe the real fans of the series do like this.
In Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs you travel to the Oblivia region to free the world from Pokémon kidnappers and return peace amongst the critters. The game is built up quite well. Your main mission has smallers quests and you help scared citizens in need. Luckily you’re not on your own but get help from different sides. The story that surrounds your mission is quite fun, has some history, some morals, and now and then even a joke. Quite amusing and addictive.
There are some minor issues though. The goal isn’t always as clear and especially when you pause the game and don’t remember what it was what you were doing earlier, it can take quite a long time and plenty of searching before you’re back on the right path. You can check the status of your hero, but it’s a bit thin and we wouldn’t mind a memory aid in the next game.
A second issue is that when you’ve just avoided a Pokémon, you’ll immediately run into it again. Annoyingly fast that is. On the positive side there are moments where some sort of shortcuts are built in so that when you’ve just crossed three worlds to get a book, you don’t have to go through all of them (with accompanying obstacles) again to return but get back to the right starting place after a short intermezzo of a black screen.
Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs can be played wireless and with up to 4 players. The game even has seperate missions especially for this. With a Nintendo Wi-Fi connection you can also download extra functions and content.
Pokémon fans should definitely get this one and also those not as familiar with the series may want to give this one a go. Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs is an entertaining game with content that’s accessible for everyone.