Title: Pokemon Ranger
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Creatures Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Platform: Nintendo DS
Category: Action, Role-Playing
Release Date: March 23, 2006
How I got the game: I bought it
Pokemon Ranger is a spin-off Pokemon game, the first in a trilogy of “Pokemon Ranger” games. It’s a Nintendo DS game I got long ago when it first came out. I had completed then, getting stuck on some after story gameplay, and never picked it up again. I thought it was about time I tried it again.
In Pokemon, you’ve got your gym leaders, ace trainers, breeders, collectors, and more. In this game, we’re playing as a different type of person in the Pokemon world – a ranger. A Ranger is like a typical park ranger. They take care of their city and the areas around it and protect the Pokemon and people.
You’re a newbie ranger starting with your newly acquired partner Pokemon, Plusle. Plusle chose you, not the other way around. At first, you’re started off with small missions to get your feet wet. Then Professor Hastings, the union leader and creator of the Capture Styler and Super Styler, gets his Super Styler stolen by the Go-Rock Squad… while you’re escorting him. Yes, it’s kind of your fault.
Now you’re assigned a series of tasks and missions that get you closer to finding the Go-Rock Squad and making sure they don’t wreck havoc.
Pokemon Ranger came out about two years after the Nintendo DS was released. Most of the games were stylus-based with the new touchscreen and this game was no different.
In this game, you play as the protagonist – a girl or a boy – and complete missions to further the plot of the story. You walk around using either the D-pad, joystick, or you can use your stylus on the screen and lead your character around. I personally liked the former.
To interact with people and objects, such as the podium to save the game, you pressed the A-button. To encounter wild Pokemon all you had to do was run into them… or let them run into you.
Battling while Pokemon is different than the typical mainstream Pokemon game. Using your stylus, you have to draw rings around the Pokemon in order to capture them. Some Pokemon take more rings than others. The Pokemon run around a lot and even attack breaking the ring – but if an attack lands on the ring your stylus is hurt. You have a certain amount of energy in your stylus, it grows the more you gain experience points by capturing Pokemon, but if it runs out of energy, it’s game over.
This wasn’t a bad mechanic at all, I enjoyed it. Of course, it has its flaws. The wild Pokemon are free to roam where ever. They’re not restricted to the bottom screen, which means they run off screen a lot. Then you need to wait for them to come back. Also, if they’re standing beside the edge of the screen and your stylus bumps into the edge, it counts as though you lifted your stylus off the screen and the capture has to begin all over again. I missed so many times because of that and it got pretty annoying.
Some Pokemon have field moves in which you can use them to help in your missions. For example, fire Pokemon can burn down logs to clear a path, electric Pokemon can recharge your stylus for you. Not all Pokemon have field moves, but they all have a special ability to help when capturing Pokemon. For example, water Pokemon can allow your stylus to create a bubble and contain the wild Pokemon while you try to catch it. Psychic Pokemon enter the battle field and levitate the wild Pokemon suspending it for a brief moment of time while you quickly draw rings around it.
Some missions had a set of puzzles you needed to solve whether you needed a Pokemon’s help or not. While the puzzles weren’t bad, they weren’t hard either. It is a Pokemon game, so I wasn’t expecting extreme stuff, but I played through the entire game in less than 10 hours.
The graphics are nicely done for a Nintendo DS game. It’s pixelated for sure, but your character isn’t a chibi like in the earlier Pokemon games. Plusle follows you around as does any other Pokemon you capture which is cute to see.
I enjoyed the setting of the game too. There were four main cities, each based on a season – summer, spring, winter, and fall – and while it doesn’t sound like much, the scenery was well done.
The music is just as well too. When I turned the game on I was instantly brought back into the gameplay as though I had never taken a hiatus from it. The sound effects are satisfying, especially when you catch a Pokemon.
I can see myself playing this game again or even going back to it to do the post-game stuff. There are two other games in the Ranger series that I’d like to give a try. It’s not my favorite Pokemon game, but I thought it was an interesting concept and it was good enough.
POKEMON RANGER gets…
3 out of 5 lives.