More Reviews
REVIEWS Wayward Manor Review
Not even the power of Neil Gaiman and The Odd Gentlemen could save this game from a fate worse than death: a terrible score.

ONE PIECE Unlimited World Red Review
"Unlimited World Red"? More like "Sorta Limited Town and Extended Areas... Red. And Blue. And Some Yellow."
More Previews
PREVIEWS Pillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
Release Dates
Release date: 08/05/14

Release date: 08/19/14

Tales of Xillia 2
Release date: 08/19/14

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Release date: 08/19/14

LATEST FEATURES How Bioware Creates Romances
Bioware's games have romances where you might save the world, on the side of course.

We Absolutely Should Be Upset With Club Nintendo's Latest Elite Rewards
Surveys out the wazoo and I get a code for Dr. Luigi?
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Picking Your Gender: 5 Industry Professionals Discuss Queer Identity in Gaming
Women from Naughty Dog, ArenaNet, Harmonix, and Gamespot unite to talk about what they want from games in terms of diversity.
Coming Soon

Read More Member Blogs
Why Sunset Overdrive Can Go Suck A Lemon
By Kakulukia
Posted on 07/14/14
Yesterday, while cleaning up my media center, I found my copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, which I bought sometime before Christmas last year. I had been pretty excited about this game pre-release, what with it being the first "traditional", albeit shorter than usual,...

Pokemon Ranger Review

TomParker By:
GENRE Adventure 
E Contains Mild Cartoon Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Ring around the Charmander.

Yes, boys and girls, it’s time once again for another Pokemon game! You know the Pokemon, don’t you? They’re those adorable little monsters that are so cute that you just want to squeeze them until their heads pop off. Yes, those same demonically cuddly creatures that have been simultaneously terrorizing us and making us vomit from an overdose of cute since the days of the original GameBoy. Yay, Pokemon!

In Pokemon Ranger, you are the newest recruit of a global security force known as, yes, you guessed it, the Pokemon Rangers. You and your ranger buddies have signed a pledge to live in harmony with Pokemon, strive to protect nature every day, and selflessly go to the help of those in need. Yep, you’re one of the good guys
click to enlargeUnfortunately, as a rookie, your first few assignments are the equivalent of getting cats out of trees and helping old ladies across the street. But eventually, all of your Boy Scout good manners pay off, as you find yourself tangling toe-to-toe against the Go-Rock Squad, a twisted group of thugs who only want to use Pokemon for their own selfish interests. They also love that most corrupting influence, rock and roll music. As a defender of all that is good and right In the world (and possibly Perry Como tunes), it’s up to you and your Pokemon to stop these fiendish hipsters.
Pokemon Ranger is something of a return to the classic style of Pokemon game after the universe-bending Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, in which you actually played the game as one of them. The difference is that, where in the past you spent a lot of time developing meaningful relationships with each of your Pokemon, and battling them against each other in the hopes that they would evolve into new and more powerful crickets or sea cucumbers, in Pokemon Ranger, your relations with the Pokemon are a bit more, shall we say, casual. 
While your one poke-partner sticks with you through thick and thin, the liaisons you have with the Pokemon you capture are much more, um, temporary. Each Pokemon you catch functions kind of like an inventory item, and is used up and discarded about as thoughtfully. Some, like Pikachu, can restore your health like a living, breathing health potion. Others work like power-ups to help you in battle, while still others can be used to get past obstacles in the game world, blowing up giant rocks or burning down trees. Once you’ve used them up, they’re out the door, heading back to the wild.
click to enlargeI’m pretty sure that the environmental lobby and the animal rights people finally got to the makers of this game, because the Pokemon Rangers treat their disposable little captives as reverently as if they were endangered spotted owls. Each time you use a Pokemon, you thank it gratefully and then release it carefully into its natural habitat. In fact, you can’t take Pokemon from one part of the world to another, for fear of disrupting the natural balance of things. Heck, you’ve got to make sure you establish an emotional connection with the sea creature before it will ferry you across the water! 
When did this series get all hippie on us? If I wasn’t fighting against the rock musicians, I’d think we were at a Phish concert! Give me the good old days of Pokemon, where you could cram a dragon into a tiny ball, and then force it to do your bidding by only letting it out to fight against its own kind. That’s my kind of relationship with nature!
At least using the stylus to move around, interact with your environment, and access menus is fluid and easy. Very rarely do you ever need to switch back to using the buttons. Even better, they’ve built the gameplay around the strengths and unique capabilities of the stylus. The best example of this is in capturing. 
When you engage in battle with a Pokemon, your prey appears meandering about by itself on the lower screen. To capture it, you have to touch your stylus to the screen and draw enough circles around it to match the critter’s level.   If you pick up your pen too soon, or your endearing little victim manages to attack your line, he breaks free and lives to fight another day. Play is surprisingly strategic, even if it makes you look like a deranged cartoonist as you madly scribble your way through the game. It’s harder than it sounds, as the runty buggers are always shooting fireballs, jumping at your lines, attacking you in groups, or otherwise making it difficult to draw your precious, precious circles.
click to enlargeBecause if there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s die. The save points in this game are a little too thinly spread for my tastes, and heaven help you if you face a difficult fight right after one of the seemingly endless conversations with your Ranger colleagues or your rivals. I ended up having to watch one particularly long exposition FOUR TIMES because I kept getting my line broken by the evil little rock creatures that came right after them. Of course, you can run away from a fight if you manage to stun your enemy. But even then, you’re miles from the nearest town, and unless you can find another Pikachu before something nasty finds you, you’re still sunk.
Putting all this touchy-feeliness aside for a moment, I have to admit that my first impression of Pokemon Ranger was not a good one. From a sensory perspective, this game seems a few steps behind the curve. Now we all know that the DS doesn’t exactly rival the PS3 for awesome graphics or surround sound or anything, but this game looks and sounds like it’s still on the GameBoy Advance! Maybe Pokemon fans go crazy for tinny music and flat-looking graphics, but I expect more, dang it.
Ultimately, Pokemon Ranger’s positive qualities outweigh its flaws, but only barely. It’s good to see Nintendo keep trying new things to refresh an aging title, and taking advantage of the unique opportunities the DS offers. But by putting a little bit more thought into the music and graphics, they could have made a pretty good game, instead of one that is merely okay.
C Revolution report card
  • Easy to get around
  • Good use of stylus
  • Mad scribbling!
  • Too much talking
  • 2001 graphics
  • 1983 music
More from the Game Revolution Network

comments powered by Disqus


More information about Pokemon Ranger

More On GameRevolution