Saturday, April 20, 2013

Handheld Review : Pokemon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color)

Handheld Review
Pokemon Trading Card Game
Game Boy Color

Recently a PC version of this concept saw the light of day... then promptly fell off the radar of gamers and nobody I know of ever talked of it again. I dont know if it is still active or not, but if by some circumstance it has shut down I wont be surprised. The game seemed unoriginal to me, even for an online PC so called free to play game that, like many games of this type, lives and dies on micro transactions of real cash. In this case micro transactions of real money bought you starter decks and booster packs... yeah, I cant imagine this game still being alive.

Continuing the lack of originality theme we have Pokemon Trading Card Game for the Game Boy Color, also playable on the GBA SP.

You might think a game like Pokemon Trading Card Game might be original, especially if you played the trading card version of Monster Rancher, also for the Game Boy Color, but then you would be wrong. Right to the most basic story premise the game is a shallow clone of Pokemon Red and Blue. You are this fan of the Pokemon TCG, and thanks to your friend the Professor you are set on the road to earn the Legendary Pokemon cards by beating this game's version of the Elite Four (after earning eight gym badges).

But, you might think, isnt that a good thing? Considering how much gameplay you can squeeze out of even first gen Red and Blue this should be a long and involved game... right? Actually no. The explorable domain is very very small. Dr Mason's lab, the eight Pokemon gyms, a Challenge dome, the home of a high level Pokemon TCG trader and the Pokemon Dome (home of the four grandmasters). And if your wondering? All the gyms and the challenge dome are the same basic design. An entrance room, a waiting room (where you can link with other GBAs for linked battles or where you can find NPC to trade with) and the main gym room. You wont always find all the gym members in this room. In the case of the Fighting Club the members are hanging out in other gyms.

Otherwise that is about it. It is maybe 20 or so hours of gameplay. Not the longest Pokemon you played, and not the shortest but... it is a fair decent slice of gaming. Something for your traveling kit if you have a Pokemon obsession, and you can find probably find it if you look about places like GameTZ or Amazon. A decent middle of the road 3 out of 5. Try it, if you can overlook the game's shortcomings, and enjoy.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pocket Reviews : Castlevania Circle of the Moon GBA

Pocket Reviews
Castlevania Circle of the Moon for the Game Boy Advance
Published by Konami
Side scrolling action RPG

Ever since I played Symphony of the Night on the PSP I have been seeing more and more of these so called "Metroidvania" games, a Castlevania game with a gigantic explorable area ala Metroid. Add an element of RPG into the game (equipable armor, weapon and level grinding) and you have a usually good mix... and while this game has these elements it is also missing something. Mainly the story.

Now mind you the story element of Symphony of the Night, or Portrait of Ruin on the DS, they are not Final Fantasy level storytelling but its there at least. There is practically no story here. After the intro,  where you and two others who I barely remember confront a newly resurrected Dracula only to end up seperated, you plow through a few hours of gameplay before you finally locate a piece of story. A small piece. By now several story moments would have occurred already in Symphony or Portrait, by comparison.

The game runs like Symphony lite. Same Metroidvania massive game environment as Symphony but seemingly none of the bells and whistles. There are sections you cant explore until you uncover the means to pass, done through eight "magic spells" enhancing your character. There is also this thing called DSS Cards. 10 Action and 10 Attributes... I have no idea if theyre doing anything, maybe because I only found 1 card each but still...

As GBA games go it is a rather nice pick up. A pretty nice change of pace, and while it is a tad light on story and content it is overall a nice slice of side scrolling Castlevania to dig your fangs into.

Definitely a recommend for your emergency travel kit, as well as the casual retro Game Boy or DS Lite gamer. 4 stakes through the gaming heart out of 5. Find it, try it, enjoy it.

Need to get back on track review wise... next time lets wander back to the classic Game Boy and try out some old school Harvest Moon. That is our next review. That is next time... bouncing back and forth between the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS and 3DS... and maybe the PSVita as it is on my shopping list for yearly tech upgrades this year... but that is coming up so stay tuned next time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pocket Gamer Episode 5 now available

I really need to get back on track with game content!

This episode we look at the first walkthrough of Dragon Quest IX Sentinels of the Starry Skies. Future episodes we'll do walkthroughs of games like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (both the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance versions) and review all the walkthroughs and do additional reviews like Castlevania : Circle of the Moon GBA and more.

Next up? Another Pocket Gamer and a new Antisocial Gamer. Stay tuned.