November 6, 2010

Review – PokéPark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:56 am

PokePark Wii: Pikachus Adventure
Caught between the release of HeartGold & SoulSilver this year and the waiting game for the new Black & White editions next year, Pikachu and the gang have opted to get away from rigorous training and stat grinding for some relaxation on the Wii via the PokéPark. It’s a vacation easily labeled and largely written-off as kid friendly, a description that earnestly sounds a bit ridiculous given the number of children I’ve watched swarm handheld stations at events for the more portable offerings the house that Pikachu built is known for.

Perhaps we could label this release more free-range, with players turning the WiiMote sideways to take direct control of Pikachu, exploring the zones that comprise the PokéPark and grasping at another opportunity to touch the franchise by different means.

The priority of the PokéPark isn’t to catch them all, rather to meet them all, and if possible to become friends with them all. Certainly that touchy-feely angle sounds more childlike, but the label is more properly grounded in the simplistic design and approach, from the controls to the specific objectives on Pikachu’s todo list.

PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure
Slipping on the yellow paws to explore this 3D space offers a lesser gained view of Pokémon, ready to great Pikachu and ever eager to play games in order to earn friendship. These games vary, from chases, to rounds of hide-and-seek, and battles that offer a chance to dodge and attack Pokémon in realtime to get a fuller view of abilities usually written off with quick animations and HP decreases elsewhere. Earning the friendship of fellow Pokémon is essential for gaining the ability to use them in the park’s various attractions – where some Pokémon excel over others and winning rewards the player with the shards that Mew sent Pikachu looking for in the first place.

There are good ideas afoot, offering players a chance to meet Pokémon via direct exploration and make connections through shared activities with them, while a larger goal hangs overhead and mini-games offer breaks along the way. Those mini-games offer slices of familiarity with races, some vine-swing long jumping, air races, and a block bashing game to name some. Of course this tows along some obligatory WiiMote controls that reunite me with my old nemesis, tilt-WiiMote-flying. Other events require shaking the WiiMote for momentum, while a bit of block bashing simply leaves you alone to use the dpad in a more old school fashion. It’s hit and miss, these are mini-games in a very literal sense, offering very short and small experiences that although accessible from the main menu after being discovered, lack any long term pull for attention and certainly don’t prove the main attraction of this release.

PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure
The draw comes instead from wandering through the PokéPark to meet fellow Pokémon, gathering berry currency Pikachu can spend in order to level up his stats for battles as well as learn new moves – though learning tail attack required me to forever after watch exactly how I held the WiiMote, else Pikachu insisted on endlessly executing the attack while I struggled to use his more electrically-minded ability.

Perhaps because I found some joy in the idea of wandering around in this fashion, it was hard to ignore how underdeveloped that idea is here, as if so many decisions allowed the notion of children as a target audience to shorten the corners of the game’s development. Given the amount of games children have access to, that’s a pretty big oversight that also doesn’t give that ideal audience enough credit.

The PokéPark lacks a sense of depth, with the environmentally varied zones allowing the developers to simply dump handfuls of Pokémon into areas without much consideration beyond the general environment in which they’d likely prefer to spend time given the options available – meaning any sense of real exploration has no space to develop and deprives any long term reason for return visits. What you’re left with is a release that feels very much like an overgrown WiiWare title, bloated by repeat performances via additional zones to round out something closer to a retail release that is undeniably overpriced – though I acknowledge most vacations are.

PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure
I should also make mention of codes, which allow new Pokémon to be added to the park, here’s one Nintendo sent just yesterday for Groudon – 49446209.

PokéPark Wii isn’t without some charms and small flares, but the solitary experience was a bit depressing as I watched it sink helplessly into tedium to be honest, because this type of game is something Nintendo could stand to get right with more depth, creating a title with an appeal easily as wide as recent releases such as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, particularly considering how many original fans might be contributing to the creation of new gaming audiences even as I type this.

Creatures Inc.


Nintendo Wii


Release Date
November 1, 2010

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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