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Pokemon Trozei

Every time there's a new Nintendo system, there's the inevitable gush of also-ran Pokémon side products. While we wait for the next proper Pokémon game, we get things like Hey You, Pikachu! and Pokémon Dash to plug the gaps. But for every couple of dumbo-games that hit the cultural scrapheap, there's usually one decent Poké-puzzler that warrants serious attention. Pokémon Trozei is that game. It's a simple concept that plays like a sex-up between the pocket monsters and Tetris in a brothel run by the Powerpuff Girls.

The screen is basically a grid. Tetris style, Pokémon fall from the top and of course you've got to make them vanish before they hit the roof. You do this by sliding the critters left or right in rows, or up and down in columns until four (a "trozei") of the same species are matched up in a line, either vertically or horizontally. Pop, they're gone.

So, a group of four vanishes and there's a quick window of opportunity during which you can group three monsters of one type together to keep the combo counter going. After you've done three, start pairing up Pokémon by the twos to clear the board faster. Screw it up and you're back to chasing groups of four. The shockingly small amount of time you have to continue the combo makes the game blazingly fast in its more frantic moments.

There's also a side goal. Pokémon games thrive on gratuitous collecting, so when you line up four you've effectively 'caught' that creature. Naturally, some are much harder to find than others, and some of the game's 380 beasts may only be found by linking up with a friend via the DS' wireless capabilities. Trap or trade them all and everyone will clutch their chest in awe at your Poké-wrangling prowess.

Trozei will offer single and multiplayer modes, plus a way to wirelessly distribute a demo of the game to other DS owners. The expected multiplayer options provide versus and cooperative gameplay along with an "Agent Café" where players can exchange cards that increase their chances of finding rare Pokemon. By the time this game hits store shelves in March, the Poké-craze will have been running for eight years, yet millions of devout and closet fans still feel compelled to catch 'em all. This is certainly not Pokémon Pearl or Diamond, but Trozei may hold some pick-up-and-play appeal for fans still hopelessly infatuated with the little fiends or those simply in need of a decent puzzler.

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Pokemon

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