Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Sign
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs finally brings multiplayer missions to the series
- Lengthy single player mode, the ability to import rare Pokemon to other DS games, flexible multiplayer missions
- Overall narrative is forgettable and dry, gameplay and puzzle solving elements get repetitive very early on
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs may have some new places to see and more gameplay features, but like previous titles in this side-series, it's just not interesting or engaging enough to warrant much attention from older gamers. Only the most hardcore Pokemon fans will want to trudge through this lengthy adventure for the promise of rare Legendaries, but everyone else might be better off sticking to the vastly superior core games.
The family friendly Pokemon Ranger series has always had some features that I wish other Pokemon games would adopt. For one thing, the main gimmick of capturing the titular creatures by furiously scribbling circles around them would be a great side-game in the main DS-based titles like HeartGold or SoulSilver, and I've always liked the way your character can have a small army of on-screen Pokemon tagging along at their heels. Watching a Steelix tower above your group as you clear boulders out of a mountain path would be a neat little visual touch, but alas, the main games adhere to the same over-world layout that they've had for over 10 years.
But as interesting as it looks and as fun as these features are, Pokemon Ranger has never really gotten the narrative or overall gameplay aspects quite right. None of the games have anything tying them to the main series -- no cameos from gym leaders, no storylines in the outskirts of Kanto -- and the characters don't have much personality. On the gameplay side, Pokemon that you capture only stay with your team long enough to use their specific field move, meaning that each puzzle boils down to locating a certain monster to cut, soak, or burn a specific object. It's even worse in dungeons, where you'll occasionally have to backtrack long distances to find a Fire-Type that can burn some random obstacle blocking your path. It's always been mildly tedious at best, and Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs suffers from these issues as much as Shadows of Almia (the last game in the series) did.
Guardian Signs' story revolves around the Oblivia region, a chain of islands inhabited by Pokemon and the local human populace, and home to a series of ancient ruins where Legendary beasts like to frolic. As you start the game, the region is under attack by the Pokemon Pinchers -- a group of "evil" Pokemon poachers who want to use Oblivia's Pokemon for criminal means. Possibly the only unique aspect of the story here is the inclusion of time travel, which is used to set up a series of plot twists at the end of the game. As it turns out, the Pokemon Pinchers are being controlled by another group that has origins in the ancient past, the leaders of which want to gain eternal youth. Or something.
Apparently, catching a Pokemon with anything other than a Poke Ball brands you a felon in the Pokemon universe. While Shadows of Almia's Team Dim Sun (groan) captured Pokemon by shady hypnosis, the Pokemon Pinchers in Guardian Signs simply use a variation on the Rangers' Pokemon Styler device, so I initially couldn't fathom why these guys where the bad guys. While the stakes ramp up later on in the game, the obvious fridge logic at work here makes the narrative seem incredibly silly. At least Team Rocket established their evilness by outright stealing other people's Pokemon and taking over entire cities.
Even if you ignore the forgettable story, the gameplay still doesn't hold up through the hours and hours of grade school-level puzzle solving. It's really a shame, too -- Pokemon Ranger would be much better with just a few tweaks. Capturing Pokemon is still pretty fun, though -- especially in the boss battles. Instead of Poke Balls, Pokemon Ranger use "Capture Stylers" that can tame wild Pokemon with feelings of "friendship" and "peace." As you trace loops around feisty Pokemon on the DS touch screen, they'll attack you and attempt to break your chain. Take enough damage this way and it's "Game Over," but you can use Poke Assists to even the odds. There's even some strategy involved here, as certain type advantages and Styler upgrades can be used to wear down your target with great ease. Without a doubt, Capture Battles are still the best part of the game, and the tougher the Pokemon get, the more fun things are.
Still, the dungeons and maps leave much to be desired. Being able to retain your Pokemon even after they've used their type-specific field moves would be a blessing, but the game still strips you of your teammates the instant they perform their token ability. It's even worse now that some field moves require you to hunt down two or three Pokemon, which means even more backtracking for just the right one. At the very least, Guardian Signs is better about this than previous games, since the proper Pokemon for the job is usually no more than two or three screens away, but it's still pretty annoying.
Still, multiplayer missions provide a nice diversion when you're tired of the single player story mode. Not only can you play with up to four other people, but the game even lets you play with three computer-controlled bots. Additionally, Guardian Signs makes use of downloadable missions for extra content, which is especially important for gaining access to rare Pokemon like Deoxys and Manaphy. Being able to port these highly treasured creatures over to Diamond/Pearl or HeartGold/SoulSilver is a tantalising carrot on a stick, and to be honest, it's the only reason I'm still trudging through the game.
If you've played a Pokemon Ranger adventure before, just be aware that Guardian Signs isn't much of a departure from the last two titles in the series. It's obviously not for my demographic, but I can't imagine the repetitive puzzle solving and uninteresting story will be of much interest to anyone but the youngest DS owner. At its core, purchasing this game boils down to one question: just how badly do you think you want those Legendary Pokemon?
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Dead Rising 4 impressions: 'Tis the season to BBQ zombies with your flaming sword
- This week in games: Free Titanfall 2 weekend, Star Wars Battlefront meets Rogue One
- Every new game revealed at The Game Awards 2016, from Guardians of the Galaxy to Zelda
- Watch Dogs 2 PC impressions: A smooth-running romp through meme-filled San Francisco
- Hearthstone fans now have a dedicated Skype chat room to challenge its best players
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCTechnology Specialist-AWS MigrationNSW
- CCSenior Performance Test AnalystVIC
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- FTLevel 1/2 Service Desk AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Front End DeveloperNSW
- CCNetwork EngineerNSW
- FTInfrastructure and Data Centre Support OfficerACT
- TPSenior PMO AnalystNSW
- CCData ScientistNSW
- CCCapacity and Performance AnalystVIC
- TPProcess Business AnalystVIC
- CCSenior Automation TesterQLD
- CCSSIS DeveloperNSW
- FTTechnical Solutions Architect -Cloud /Work Location - CanberraVIC
- FTChief Security Officer l CISSP l ISO27001NSW
- CCAPI DeveloperOther
- CCActive Directory Engineer l Design & SupportNSW
- FTProduct Manager - TV and MediaVIC
- CCVBA DeveloperNSW
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- CCExecutive AssistantVIC
- FTSenior Consultant/ArchitectNSW
- TPFull Stack Web DeveloperNSW
- FTLead Software EngineerQLD
- FTEnterprise ArchitectACT