Pokmon Ranger: Shadows of Almia Review for Nintendo DS

Pokmon Ranger: Shadows of Almia Review for Nintendo DS

Pokémon Ranger Repeat

Although the Pokémon franchise has been around for more than ten years, one thing that fans of the series can agree on is that most of the series’ appeal can be attributed to the fun RPG battle aspects of the first Red and Blue games. These strategy-based battles were tons of fun and the format of the early Pokémon titles really established the franchise and helped build it into the gaming powerhouse it is today.

Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia screenshot

However, the Pokémon franchise has evolved into more than a few sub-series over the years, and the most striking of these has to be the Pokémon Ranger series. While most traditional Pokémon titles focus on battling other Pokémon, the first Ranger title allowed you to step into the shoes of a Ranger cadet whose main goal was to save and befriend vulnerable Pokémon rather than catch and train them. It was quite a departure from the handheld series at-large, but for the most part it was an enjoyable title. This year sees a new addition to the Pokémon Ranger sub-series: Shadows of Almia. While this title changes the location and adds some new Pokémon to befriend, on the whole this title is far too similar to last year’s title, and even for series newcomers, Shadows of Almia feels far too repetitive.

For those who are new to the Pokémon Ranger sub-series, this title is all about puzzle-style action. You play as either a male or female ranger, and it is your job to use a special tool, known as a “Styler” to form friendships with Pokémon and help save them from bad situations that can range from being chased by little kids to falling into the clutches of an evil mastermind. As you may have guessed, the Styler is activated by using the stylus, and you are able to prove your undying friendship for these downtrodden Pokémon by drawing circles around them after establishing contact with them. One key difference in the actual Styler mechanic is the presence of a new “friendship” bar that you can fill by drawing circles to completely befriend the Pokémon. This is different from the previous entry, in which your capture success depended on sustained circle drawing.

Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia screenshot

In Shadows of Almia, a dastardly plot has been uncovered that involved hypnotized and manipulated Pokémon. These Pokémon attack at will and may mistakenly hurt those around them. It will be up to you to go on various missions with your friends to save all these influenced Pokémon. The game has a linear progression system, which has you accepting certain missions, much like in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. However, these missions lack a lot of the variation of the aforementioned series, and the gameplay gets very repetitive after a while, especially when you consider that the main mechanic involves circling Pokémon with a stylus.

However, there are a few sources of variation in the game, one of which is the different environments. Shadows of Almia does a great job of creating some lush environments. The land of Almia is a very diverse place where you can go on missions in lush green meadows or in deep undersea areas. The level design itself is also done very well, and there are plenty of puzzle aspects to each mission to tide you over until the inevitable circling can begin.

Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia screenshot

One thing that Pokémon fans will definitely appreciate about this title is the new Pokémon. This is the first Pokémon Ranger game to feature all-new Pokémon from the Diamond and Pearl series and has a much larger Pokédex than previous titles. You are also able to choose your companion Pokémon this time (instead of just having one assigned.) Pokémon that you can choose as your companion include Muchlax, Kricketot, Starly, as well as fifteen other Pokémon.

The visual style of Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is very nice and is reminiscent of most other Pokémon titles for the DS. All the characters have a sprite-based structure and have an anime-stylized look. As mentioned before, the environments all look great and the game is a pleasure to look at, despite not having the most technically impressing graphics.

Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia screenshot

Control in this game is exclusively stylus-based, and you are able to select menus, Pokémon, and move your character around with just a tap on the touch screen. However, if you really hate using the stylus, you can pull up menus and move around using the D-pad and shoulder buttons, but you will have to use the stylus eventually to befriend the different Pokémon, which can result in the dreaded stylus and button shuffle that has plagued so many other DS titles. But no matter which way you decide to control this game, it works very well.

The sound in this title is also reminiscent of other Pokémon games, and features a cute little background score as well as some retro-inspired sound effects. Although the different Pokémon noises do sound a lot different than the cutesy Pokémon sounds in the anime, those who are familiar with the Pokémon series of games will undoubtedly appreciate the unchanged sound effects.

Overall, I really wanted to enjoy Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, but it was really the repetitive nature of the game that weakened the overall package. I really enjoyed most of the different aspects of the game, including the cutesy story, the level design, and even the music and sound effects. But whenever I was faced with a mission, I can’t say I ever looked forward to the main “battle” mechanic, as I ended up finding it just a little too tedious to be enjoyable. To it’s credit, Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia does play well in small chunks, but if you are planning on playing for any substantial amount of time, it tends to get quite boring. This title is best suited for those who are Pokémon enthusiasts or for those who don’t mind repetitious gameplay. But for everyone else, this title is best left off of your Pokédex.

Graphics are on-par with other Pokémon titles and feature the same sprite-based characters and Pokémon. 3.9 Control
Controls are exclusively stylus-based and work very well. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background music is very cute, and while the Pokémon noises are still a little bit on the crude side, they still have some retro charm. 3.0

Play Value
There’s plenty to explore in the main story mode, but the repetitive nature of the missions really makes this title a chore to play for any substantial length of time.

3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • This is the first game in the Pokémon Ranger series to feature Pokémon from Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl.
  • Your journey to become a Top Ranger takes you to the new region of Almia. This game has a larger world, more missions, more adventure, and more to do than the previous Pokémon Ranger game.
  • Now you can partner with a variety of different Pokémon of each type to complete Missions—giving you many options on how to approach different challenges.
  • Pokémon Ranger is a unique action-adventure series that features a fun, different way to capture Pokémon with the Nintendo DS stylus, which controls an item called the Capture Styler in the game.

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