It’s like greeting an old friend. When you get your hands on a new Pokémon game, you get that familiar feeling. You know the controls. You know that you’re in for an adventurous story. But this time, it’s not about catching ’em all.
|POKÉMON RANGER: GUARDIAN SIGNS
Nintendo for DS
Replay Value: 8.5
Overall Score: 8.0
Official Web Site
Pros: Engaging adventure story; fun touchscreen action; Ukulele Pichu.
Cons: Story is overtold; graphics could be better; leveling up is repetitive.
It’s about freeing ’em all. In Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, it’s up to you to defeat the evil Pokémon Pinchers in their speedy UFOs. These wicked aliens have taken 300 Pokémon captive and made them their slaves.
The game begins with music that you’d think is from an Indiana Jones movie. You save a Pokémon high in the skies, avoiding the flying Pinchers who shoot at you with plasma cannons. You fall from high in the sky, race to catch up to an underwater being and find your lost Capture Styler (which helps you to befriend and also free the Pokémon).
Then, you meet Ukulele Pichu, a peaceful, song-playing being who runs away to avoid the Pinchers. And that’s just in the first few minutes!
The action-filled story keeps going. You travel to the ruins-filled Oblivia to become a hero—if you dare. You can keep up to seven Pokémon in your crew to help you fight and to clear obstacles in your path.
There are many missions to complete. And Nintendo also provides some new ones. Download them for free if you have a WiFi connection. These are gifts for making it through various stages in the game. And once you complete the “Investigate the Old Mansion” mission, you can play multiplayer missions with up to four people.
As you free the Pokémon, your Capture Styler becomes more and more powerful. It’s through your Capture Styler that you level up. Here’s how: You capture wild Pokémon by drawing a circle around them with your stylus. They try to zap you while you do this. But keep drawing quickly and they’ll soon become friendly to you. The Capture Styler is also your health bar. If you see your health growing low during a battle, tap the “Flee” button in the lower right-hand side of the touchscreen.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I found the story in Guardian Signs to be intriguing. It’s fun to meet all the characters with their varied personalities. Sometimes the dialog really needs an editor, though. It needs to be more fast-paced. And, like any role-playing game, leveling up can become repetitive.
But overall, this is a very good (although not super great) game. You have to love Ukelele Pichu, whose ukelele playing gets more powerful as the game proceeds. Finally, you’ll love collecting mysterious, well-hidden Ranger Signs. Just wait until you get Feralgatr’s wild power.