NINTENDO DS REVIEW: POKEMON DASH

All new systems have to be graced by an appearance by their flagship iconic characters. Nintendo's ever-popular Pokemon was released to coincide with the release of the new DS system which also features WarioWares: Touched. Both versions show a decided lack of imagination in utilizing the system's unique touch and dual screen feature.

Pokemon Dash is a really uninspired racing game. It seems to be aimed at kids as young as a fetus with the exception of the sudden increase in difficulty that even gave me a headache. And not because it was challenging but because it's annoyingly difficult due to the lack of control.

Using the stylus to outline a path, you guide Pikachu through an obstacle course to various checkpoints on the map. The faster you move the stylus, the faster Pikachu will move. You'll encounter hazards such as lava fields, ice flows and open water. To traverse this inhospitable terrain you can use power-ups to run over them or find balloons that will float you over them. The balloons can be moved in any direction. Being in the air is the only time you'll have a good look at the map and where it is you're supposed to go. The radar system basically disappears when you're on the ground. You can poke the balloon to land quickly but you risk stunning Pikachu if you land on a hard surface.

At first the difficulty level is way too easy. If you can breathe, you can expect to win. The other characters that are supposed to be racing against you move like they just got out of rehab. Then without warning things take a turn for the worse. The pace becomes faster but the claustrophobic view of the environments does nothing to accommodate you. If you haven't been through these levels a number of times you'll never stand a chance because there is no way to tell where to go unless you have the path memorized.

The top-down view is void of any real relief or dimension. Everything looks flat. I've seen better looking GBC games than this. The colors are good and the sprites are nicely animated but the overall lack of detail is unacceptable. You could get away with these graphics in an RPG but not in an action racing game. The music is average but those annoyingly cutesy Pickachu squeeks and gurgles have got to go.

Up to six players can take part in the multi-player mode but each will have to have a copy of the game which is most likely since the majority of kids that would want this game are too young to read this review.

Preview by Chris

I had a dream of a new system without any Pokemon titles. It turned into a nightmare where Pikachu began to chase me with a giant weapon. He was angry at the fact I am over the Pokemon craze and he wanted me to pay for my sinful thinking. I woke up in a cold sweat and could not get the thought of that little yellow mascot chasing me. Of course I would not dream about Pikachu or any of the other Pokemon characters, although I did see a strange new pokemon in my dream. He had Moose Antlers and sounded a lot like Hoyst! Now that is a scary thought. Watch someone will read this and the next time I see anything about Pokemon they will have a new character from Canada. Forget my rant about Pokemon. The fact is the series is solid gold for games and merchandise. It only makes sense that Nintendo would announce a new Pokemon game for the DS system and this one is a little different.

While Nintendo had little info, we know the new game will be a race- style game. Gamers will control Pikachu and other Pokemon through several different racecourses. Players will use the Stylus pen to move their pokemon through the course. Depending on the amount of pressure and the angle will determine the speed and direction. It sounds like this one is going to rely on the touch screen ability in a huge way. There will be obstacles along the way like trying to cross a large body of water by landing on balloons.

It sounds like each course will have five checkpoints and the game will support the multi-player wireless feature. Not much news other than the basic plot. We are sure to see new characters though. The game is said to have some really nice camera angles and graphics will be colorful. No matter if you're a fan of the series or not, this one will sell for the new DS system. Take a look at the few screen shots. We will have more screen shots and a list of game features later on as the game gets closer to a release. Despite my jokes about my dislike of Pokemon, it's a game that kids and adults enjoy and that's all that is important.

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System: DS
Dev: Ambrella
Pub: Nintendo
Release: March 2005
Players: 1 - 5
Review By Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
2.0
CONTROL
2.0
MUSIC/FX
1.5
VALUE
2.5