To start to close out Pokemon Month, this month’s Flashback Friday is celebrating a non-traditional Pokemon game — Pokemon Ranch!
Pokemon Ranch was a WiiWare game developed by the Ambrella and was released for the download service in 2008. The game was compatable with the Diamond and Pearl versions of the core Pokemon game series, with Japan’s Pokemon Ranch software getting an update to allow players to connect their Platinum versions as well. Pokemon Ranch received mostly negative reviews, with many citing the missed potential of the idea, but most tended to agree that it was suitable for young Pokemon fans just starting to get into the franchise.
Pokemon Ranch had a simple premise to it, acting as a live storage box. The game’s setting was a ranch run by the NPC Hayley, who was a friend of Bebe, the developer of the Pokemon Storage System in the fourth generation games. Pokemon Ranch allowed players to import their Pokemon from their games into the ranch setting and watch them meander about, interacting with one another, and occasionally grouping up for little activities, such as Pokemon of the same type dancing around a campfire or Pokemon that knew the Sing attack chirping out a little tune.
The game itself wasn’t much of a game as it was a screensaver. It gave players extra space for their fourth generation Pokemon, but other than watching the Pokemon and the Mii characters wander around, there isn’t much for the player to do. Hayley does give the player goals in terms of expanding the ranch when a certain number of Pokemon are reached, and she checks the game’s Pokedex once in a while to urge the player to find Pokemon that have yet to be caught. Other rancher NPCs pop up occasionally and take the player over to their themed ranch to look around at their Pokemon, but that’s basically all there is to the game.
It is quite relaxing, and a bit cute, to see the little chibi versions of the Pokemon running around with one another and the Mii characters. We tended to have Pokemon Ranch playing in the background while we worked, creating a calming atmosphere. While it is definitely outdated at this point, it would be interesting to see if there was ever a fully version of the game put out someday. Perhaps a version that utilized the Pokemon Amie, Refresh, and Poke Pelago features from the sixth and seventh generations?
Have you ever played Pokemon Ranch? What did you think of it?