Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Pokemon Dream Radar

Nintendo have revealed plans to dip their toes into the mobile market with interactive demo/advertisement apps for games on their first-party hardware. This might, to some, indicate the inevitable jump to mobile, but these people have obviously never played Pokemon Dream Radar, a $3 game Nintendo would never get away with in the mobile market. There are much better games for free, but this has the Pokemon brand, and Nintendo have only just ventured into the free-to-play market with Steel Diver: Sub Wars.

Take the Face Raiders 3DS bundled game and replace those floating heads with orbs. That's Pokemon Dream Radar. Players assume the role of a Pokemon researcher tasked with capturing monsters hidden behind pink clouds floating augmented-reality-like around the room. Most clouds break into orbs, the currency used to upgrade various aspects of the capture beam, as well as the number of clouds found during each venture, among other things. Quickly grabbing all of the orbs will start a chain, spawning another group of orbs with a subsequently shorter lifespan. Distinct flashing clouds will contain a Pokemon, represented by an even bigger orb, but judging by screenshots found online there is probably an upgrade that reveals their form, or maybe only the legendary monsters are fully represented. This orb will erratically dart around the room, requiring precision movement to stay on its tail, which is no easy task while simultaneously weakening it by mashing the A button. 

More often than not, capturing a Pokemon will cause it to drop an item and flee. These include things like berries, shards, revives, and EV-boosting nutrients. Potential Pokemon range from common creatures like Musharna and Sigiglyph to an array of legendaries  including the Thundurus/Landorus/Tornadus trio. Each legendary can be captured only once. All captured items and Pokemon can only be sent to Pokemon Black/White 2. Here it becomes apparent that Dream Radar isn't meant to be a standalone game, but a glorified DLC delivery system that arbitrarily controls how quickly the player can extract the content by limiting the rate at which clouds regenerate, though this can be bypassed by spending play coins. Black or White 2, there's absolutely no reason to drop 3 bucks on Dream Radar. That money would be better spend on any game on this list. However, given the amount of time it'll take to capture all of the legendary Pokemon, it might be wise to purchase this title long before either of the 5th generation sequels. Mechanically, it isn't a bad application by any stretch of the imagination, but there are also very few mechanics to scrutinize. For what it is, it's well-polished and the sense of progression, though completely arbitrary, might trick you, if only for a minute, into thinking you're having fun. Pokemon fans should go into knowing they'll have to grind for a while in order to get to the reward. Pokemon Dream Radar is simply a vehicle for Nintendo to sell us Pokemon without actually selling us Pokemon, and in that light is a valid application, but don't mistake it for a real game. 

Released: 2012-10-07
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo


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