The disposable nature of Almia’s pokemon, combined with the fact that you can take only a handful of your friends with you at any given time, makes up the strategic portion of the game. And if you’re thinking it seems pointless and even frustrating that they leave, you’re exactly right. It leads to needless backtracking to find the one you need to pass a certain obstacle (must… catch… Mudkip) and totally dilutes the whole “catch ‘em all!” experience.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game does little to make up for this loss. The whole process of drawing circles around targets gets old fast despite the fact that different pokemon use different evasive maneuvers. And the story is super-simplistic: A team of evil folks keep setting up machines that hypnotize wild pokemon, so you go and smash them over and over. The end.
Even the bonus pokemon you can earn and transfer for keeps back to Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are redundant: One is Manaphy, which you unlocked in the first Ranger and which has been given away at Toys R Us, and the other is a slightly tweaked Riolu, already catchable in Diamond/Pearl.
Shadows of Almia is longer than the first Pokemon Ranger game, and there’s still a lot of charm here. It’s just that the game backing up that charm is too simple and too familiar for us to recommend to any but the youngest, more easily pleased of pokemaniacs.
Dec 4, 2008