Review: Pokemon Trozei - DS

A shallow puzzler or hidden gem?

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Good: Easy to pick up, graphics

Bad: Too Simple, ridiculous story, no wi-fi support

Game intended for: Children, teens or other like-minded individuals

As many of you might know, Nintendo introduced the Pokemon Empire to the United States right down the road in Topeka, KS, back in 1998 via an air drop of Pokemon merchandise, costumed sky divers and games held aloft by tiny parachutes. The mayor even officially renamed the city "Topicachu" for that one day. This was a fitting launch for a franchise that, upon hitting the ground in that grassy field, would soon consume children and gamers alike and generate millions of dollars for the big N. Nintendo has often taken established intellectual properties like Mario or Donkey Kong and forced them out into completely different types of games, and Pokemon is no exception. Enter Pokemon Trozei, the latest in a long line of DS puzzlers.

The concept of the game is relatively simple (as are most good puzzle games) but not necessarily difficult to master (unlike most good puzzle games). The story (yes there is a story, sigh...) revolves around hundreds of pokeballs that have been stolen and you need to retrieve them. The problem however, is that you can't possibly carry all those pokeballs. To solve this, you are given a device that can carry multiple pokeballs for you, but only if the balls are lined up in multiples of four or more and they must contain the same type of Pokemon. When you do this, you have performed a Trozei. Performing the Trozei then will give you a small moment of time to earn additional bonuses by lining up other pokemon in lines of three and then two for additional points. Pokemon drop from the top screen in a "connect four" fashion and you move the rows and columns around as though you were playing with a Rubix cube in an attempt to line up the correct pokemon for them to disappear (or be sucked into the machine...) As with most puzzlers, the object is to earn points.

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The trouble is, as I hinted at before, the game is just too simple for most gamers. Once you've spent ten minutes with the game, you will have a very good idea of how the next few hours will play out. Sure your "skill" will improve as you plan on, but only marginally. Multiplayer can add some replayability, but it has some balancing issues that tend to make the games go very quickly, with even minor mistakes sending the match overwhelmingly in your opponents' direction.

The game does offer a number of different play modes, including campaign, endless play and multiplayer. Campaign is essentially the "story" mode, giving you a number of small challenges with animated sequences in between them to well... build the story. Endless play is exactly what it sounds like; you play on for as long as you can for points. The multiplayer mode is pretty standard, offering two play modes with single and multi cartridge play. Wi-fi support would be nice, especially considering that this is a Nintendo developed game but they seem to be pretty picky about which games will be allowed on their service.

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The game is actually very good looking, for what it is. Don't expect any 3D graphics of course, but the action plays out very clearly on both screens and the animated cut scenes in the campaign mode appear as though they were taken right out of Gamecube's "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker" only again, in 2D. The animation is that good. Of course this it has nothing to do with the gameplay, but it should be appreciated for what it is. The audio too is acceptable. Generic repeating music, but not so much that it becomes annoying or distracting to the gameplay.

Trozei is clearly an example of a big-money franchise being inserted into a completely un-related game formula for the purpose of selling a few thousand additional copies. But that's how the industry works and at least it doesn't really affect the play of the game. The puzzle mechanics work for what it is: a simple, easy to pick up 'n' play puzzle game, but most people will likely get bored quickly, and turn back to Meteos for its addictive puzzle action. Too much simplicity and the lack of a quality multiplayer mode keep this title from being a must have but if you are a serious fan of the genre, then you will probably enjoy Pokemon Trozei.

Graphics: B

Sound: C

First Play: C

Last Play: D

Gameplay: D+

Overall: 69% D+

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