Pokemon Link: Battle! Review (3DS)
I am a self-confessed Nintendo fundamentalist. As a fundamentalist, I believe Nintendo should always develop games exclusively for their own consoles. In all likelihood, I will always remain a Nintendo fundamentalist. Not surprisingly, any Ideas that suggest Nintendo should begin a business model that involves mobile gaming immediately grinds my gears. I am not going to lie it genuinely does anger me. In truth, I am frightened that my favourite games such as Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong and Metroid would lose their magic – if Nintendo begins to move into mobile gaming (just look how the mighty Square Enix and Capcom have fallen). However, after playing Pokemon Link: Battle (known as Pokemon Trozei in North America) – I finally understand why investors and business analyst alike – want Nintendo to enter the mobile market. It is simple actually -games like Pokemon Link: Battle could make Nintendo millions, perhaps even billions in cash if they were available on Smartphones and Tablets.
Pokemon Link: Battle is another prime example of Nintendo’s mastery in the gaming space. It is a curious mix of old ideas of the Puzzle genre and new ideas from Nintendo. I’d describe Pokemon Link: Battle as the love child of Bejewel and Pocket Monsters. The basic premise of Pokemon Link: Battle is to connect to connect 3 or more of the same Pokemon icons horizontally or vertically to create a “Link”. Succeeding in creating a Link will cause you to chip away the enemy Pokemon’s health. On paper – the fundamentals of the game sound simple and easy to grasp – however; there are multiple layers of depth woven into the game that elevates Pokemon Link: Battle over the generic puzzle games of this fashion.
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I discovered soon after playing Pokemon Battle: Link that this is a game of “kill before you get killed”. The foe Pokemon will attack periodically with each move reducing your meter on the side – once that is depleted the game is over. The saying “kill before you get killed” perfectly fits the strategic play in order to succeed in Pokemon Link: Battle. To knock out the opposing Pokemon swiftly before they can deal significant damage – speed and precision are needed to create multiple links to perform a combo – the longer the combo the more damage is dealt to the foe. I must admit that it took a while to get into the grooves of things, however, with practice I was able to make long combo’s without problems. As an extension to the “Link Combo’s” you are able to create a “link chance” by Linking 4 or more of the same Pokemon followed up by another “Link”. Once the “Link Chance” is activated – links only require two of the same Pokémon instead of the minimum 3. With the smaller number – large combo’s are easier produce, thus more damage can be dealt.
The essence of Pokemon is incorporated into the heart of the game. The most apparent is the rock- paper formula of weaknesses. Just like the core Pokemon games – types can be exploited in order to deal super effective damage to the opposing Pokemon. For example – if you are facing the HP heavy and ultra-defensive Regirock - then starting a combo with a powerful fighting type such as Pangoro would be ideal. On the other hand – starting a combo with Mismagius to attack a Registeel would result in petty damage irrespective of how long the combo is. Furthermore, there are nuisance that you must recognize like Link chancing with Chansey will restore health, Pokemon specific abilities and selecting the right Pokemon buddy to take into battle.
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When the aforementioned layers are working in tandem and harmony – Pokémon Link: Battle is an engaging and an incredibly fun experience when played in bite size pieces – perfect for gaming on the go. I found the key to success – in particular against legendary Pokemon was setting up long combo’s and link chances two or three moves ahead ensuring every millisecond was not wasted. Furthermore, I felt that my hand eye coordination improved – as swiftness and pinpoint accuracy with the stylus was necessary for the succes. At times – I simply could not put my 3DS down – because I was so entrenched into Pokémon Link: Battle. Games like this remind you that you don’t need multi-million dollar budgets and hyper realistic graphics to enjoy a game. While playing Pokemon Link – I could not shake the thought that this game would be a commercial phenomenon if it were to be released on Tablets and Smartphones – as a small downloadable game – it easily trumps 90% of games on the mobile market in quality.
Unfortunately, Pokemon Link: Battle is thin on content – I reckon the game can completed in one afternoon sitting. Stretching over several Zones – with 5-6 battles in each – it would not take an average player long at all to finish the game. Of course – the game can be stretched if you attempt to capture all 718 Pokemon. There is a multiplayer mode – without doing any prior research I was convinced that you could play online spending a few minutes at the lobby waiting for someone to turn up – however upon further research- this is strictly a local multiplayer affair – which is a total disappointment as it would have increased the value of the game.
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If you can’t already tell – I really enjoyed Pokemon Link: Battle. A downloadable title it may be, but that did not stop me from having a blast. The layered gameplay is exceptional for its genre, and the Pokemon aesthetics is the cherry on the cake. Although in terms of content the game may be thin – regardless of this – Pokemon Link: Battle is certainly worth the download.