Review – Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs [DS]

Posted: March 2, 2012 in DS, Pokémon, Reviews

Pokémon Rangers are keepers of the peace in a way that Officer Jenny is nothing like. Rangers use their Styler to convince Pokémon to befriend them and assist them in a variety of missions. The main villains this time around are a group of people who like to pinch Pokémon with the uninspired name ‘The Pokémon Pinchers’…

Guardian Signs is the third in the Pokémon Ranger series and the formula has stayed faithful since it all began in 2007. What sets this game apart from previous incarnations is the ability to draw symbols, called Ranger Signs, to “summon” certain Pokémon. The most notable Pokémon you can summon are the Legendary Dogs Entei, Raikou and Suicune which you can ride to make transportation quicker as well as access the Pokémons’ special talents. The Partner Pokémon system has reverted to the original format – you only get one. However, strange as it may sound it is a Pichu with a ukulele. Using its musical power it can send special twangs to help build up the emotional bond with an “enemy” Pokémon to ease the capture. It looks so cute but the sad thing is you’re rarely allowed to use him. Unlike other Pokémon that you can use, which have a meter showing how long you have to wait until you can use their assistance again, Pichu pops up at the bottom of the screen whenever it feels like it and these moments are few and far between.

The way you use a Pokémon while capturing another is one of the biggest changes in Guardian Signs from previous Pokémon Rangers titles. Pokémon are now placed independently on the battlefield through dragging and dropping them on, as opposed to being a change to your Styler. This offers a more strategic position to capturing as your Pokémon will stay where it is and launch its attack, whereas the target will move around and may attack. If that attack touches your assisting Pokémon it’s gone. Assisting Pokémon that survive can be used again after a brief charge instead of being a one use only concept. What lets this down is that you’re only informed what ability your assisting Pokémon has when you first time capture it and whenever you can be bothered to tap the Pokémon as it follows you around (which won’t happen that often). If you forget you’ll have to tap through the clumsy menu system and find it on a list. This can get frustrating as you may have forgotten what a Pokémon does and in the heat of a capture can’t refresh your memory before risking using its power.

What remains a one use factor is the other ability of Pokémon you befriend, their ability to help remove obstacles in the field. There will always be something blocking your way and a Pokémon in the immediate vicinity is able to help. Certain objects need a specific action and for your Pokémon to be at a specific level to work. For example Cut level one won’t work on a certain fallen tree, you’ll need a happy Togetic with Cut level two to get it out of your way. A new addition allows you to use more than one Pokémon on certain objects, adding more search and capture to lengthen the experience compared to previous titles in the series. The ability and level of each Pokémon is shown on the top screen which has been given more functionality than just showing a map of the room you’re currently in.

When you begin the game you are thrown into the middle of a heated chase with a fellow Ranger and find yourself separated in the new Oblivia Region. Location names this time are obviously inspired by music and if you didn’t know people actually explain it. The graphics have been given a little polish and are as colourful as ever but don’t expect anything groundbreaking. What you can expect are the cliché environments: the dark forest, the creepy ruins, the sunny beach and of course there’s always something at the top of a mountain you have to climb. You will instantly recognise the soundtrack as Pokémon, particularly players who are have played many of the other titles in the franchise.

Compared to the previous games the missions are disappointingly far apart from each other. You’ll find yourself travelling from one corner of the map to another, only to find your mission is to travel to another corner. This makes you all the more grateful for the taxi-esque powers of the Legendary Dogs. This is where the quests come into play to make up the meat of the game. Short and sweet as they are you will find many people wanting a Ranger’s assistance as you travel to and from your missions, displayed by a “…” above their heads. Some of these quests offered are not something you would expect a Ranger to accomplish, such as being a postman for a mother because she doesn’t like going into her son’s house as he keeps plants that offend her nose. In an inventive twist the kid is called Herb. Stunning. You may question why should you bother with these trivial jobs, is everyone too lazy to do it themselves? The answer: Ranger Points. As you progress your Styler levels up anyway but you will want more. Ranger Points, obtained from completing missions and quests, gives you currency to upgrade your Styler even more. Want to convey more love? Certainly. Considering extending your capture line? Consider it done. These aren’t compulsory but if you want to make the game last and have more Ranger Points to spend on Styler improvements you’ll go out of your way to make the townspeople happy.

As with the former two titles in the series extra quests can be downloaded from the Nintendo Wi-Fi, as well as the opportunity to get yourselves a Shaymin. And if you’re not much of a lone gamer, you can team up with three other players for some multiplayer exploring.
Graphics 4/5
Sound 3/5
Gameplay 3/5
Playability 4/5
Lifespan 4/5

A] Battle mechanics added and changed.
B] Drawing feature means you’ll never be without a Pokémon friend.
C] It’s got a Pichu with a Ukulele.
D] Wireless co-op

A] Quests aren’t that original.
B] Ukulele Pichu should be in it more.
C] Clumsy menu.



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