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Pokemon Dash review

NGC admits it may have been wrong about this Pikachu-powered racer

Back in NGC/101 when we had our first hands-on with the game, we said that this was 'the contender for DS's wooden spoon' - and it turns out we couldn't have been further from the truth.

Pokemon Dash has exceeded our expectations in that it's a much cleverer game than we at first anticipated.

It's essentially a racing game. By rapidly rubbing his back with the stylus, you have to guide Pikachu (against five other Pokemon) in a point-to-point race across a large overworld map that's made up of a range of terrain types.

Checkpoints don't appear in a circuit, however. Instead, they're dotted around in different places and require different abilities to reach them. Pikachu, for example, can run at great speed across flat ground.

Grass, snow, sand, water and trees slow down his progress, but he can pick up various power-ups to help him on his way. The grass power-ups allow him to run at normal speed over grass. Snow power-ups help him cross snow - and so on.

There are also other modes of transport open to him: Laplace (found at the water's edge) lets Pikachu cross deep water, while balloons allow him to travel great distances by air. Using these power-ups is the key to keeping ahead of his rivals.

Of course, things are never that simple. Pikachu can only hold one power-up at a time. You can only use balloons once, and bursting them to speed up his descent to a checkpoint necessitates finding a new set.

The top (map) screen also poses a challenge. You can only ever get a good view of your surroundings from the air.

While you're using a balloon, you get a good view of different kinds of terrain, but once you're back on the ground, the map screen only shows the locations of the different power-ups.

This mix of rules and conditions means that Dash is unique. It's more of an 'orienteering' game than anything else, with shades of Pilotwings and Four Swords' Tetra's Trackers and while it lasts it's exceedingly good fun, especially in multiplayer.

Unfortunately, once you've got the hang of things and beaten the main cup there's little in the way of extra modes to unlock. To be frank, it eventually gets too repetitive to hold you interest. Still, it's not a bad effort.

Pokemon Dash will be released for the DS on 11 March

More Info

Franchise namePokemon
UK franchise namePokemon
US censor ratingEveryone