|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Creatures, Inc.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 2, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If I had to guess, I would say that the premise for PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventurecame from some very long sessions on Facebook. You play as Pikachu, who enters the titular PokÃ©mon amusement park because Mew told him he needed to in order to save the world. Sure, that sounds like a stretch, but it's PokÃ©mon. I don't think any hardcore PokÃ©mon fans ever really expect an epic storyline from the PokÃ©mon series. However, the interesting part is what follows. Pikachu is tasked with talking to all the PokÃ©mon in the park and "friend"ing them. As in talking to them, playing a short mini-game, and then adding them to a friend list in the game. Sounds a lot like the Facebook experience, right? But unfortunately, much like Facebook, PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventureisn't very much fun for extended periods of time.
The game has a free-form structure where you can wander around the different areas simply, playing mini-games and making friends as you please. The game almost has an Animal Crossing vibe going for it, as there doesn't seem to be much going on in the game other than walking around performing tedious tasks. The tasks only really ever relate to becoming friends with PokÃ©mon or playing a mini-game (to save the world, you know?). The friendship task is probably the dullest of the bunch, as it involves a quick exchange of words and then either a race, battle, or hide-and-seek mini-game. These mini-games only last sixty seconds and are painfully repetitive. The only merciful fact here is that the friendship exercise only needs to be played once per PokÃ©mon, and then they are added to your friend list forever. Pretty sweet, right?
Well, not exactly. In between finding friends, you have to play these goofy little mini-games that aren't too offensive, but are a little too few and far between. At times, it's hard not to feel like PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventurewas a mini-game compilation that just wasn't finished in time. The mini-games in the park are pretty standard fare and include races, collection quests, and button-timing events. The mini-games aren't terrible, but they don't feel very innovative, and I found myself wishing for some of the more interesting mini-games in PokÃ©mon's back catalog (particularly the all-too-short-lived Stadium sub-series.) It wasn't that the mini-games were all that repetitive, but the issue became that there was nothing new in the game, and everything here felt like something we had played in another game several years ago.
Still, if you stick with it, there is at least some play value in PokePark if you want to befriend all the PokÃ©mon. There are about 190 PokÃ©mon in the game, and when you factor in the sixty-second mini-game that creates your friendship, you are looking at about three hours of extended playtime. This is in addition to the four-to-five hour story mode. So if you like your games relatively short, PokePark should fit the bill nicely. However, the real crime here is that there is absolutely no multiplayer. This is weird considering the game's mini-game format, and even though I didn't find anything too remarkable about the mini-games themselves, I am sure they would have been at least a decent amount of fun with other people. I think the omission of any multiplayer functionality is PokePark's biggest shortcoming (given its format), and it really sinks the overall quality of the title. The decision to omit the multiplayer aspect is even more puzzling, as Pikachu initially travels to the PokePark with three of his friends, and it would make sense for other people to take on these roles to get in on the fun. Either the option was dropped from the title, or it just represents a huge missed opportunity.
Another area where the game loses points is in the control area. The game uses a side-ways Wii-Mote for most of the action, which works well in some instances, but when you are trying to navigate Pikachu around a 3D world with a D-pad that doesn't do diagonal very well, basic navigation can be frustrating. The mini-game controls can also be a tad on the imprecise side, especially because many of the mini-games use motion controls that aren't precise enough for the task at hand. Although the AI is pretty forgiving (it's more difficult to lose than to win in most instances), you might find yourself increasingly annoyed with the imprecision of the controls if you are trying to hit the "bonus" high scores. And adding insult to injury is the camera system, which has to be manually reset every few seconds to remain effective.
Although there really isn't much to play through in the game beyond the single five-to-eight hour experience, the game does feature some solid technical aspects. The look of the game is polished, and the 200 PokÃ©mon that you'll see in the game are all rendered in 3D with a gorgeous amount of detail and incredibly cute animations (Sudowoodo's animated hop is just the most adorable thing to behold). The sound in the game is also very good and features some inoffensive background music and of course plenty of those sugary-sweet PokÃ©mon calls that have become ubiquitous with the animated PokÃ©mon series.
PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventureseems to be another disappointing entry in the PokÃ©mon franchise on the Wii. From the lackluster PokÃ©mon Battle Revolution to the too-think PokÃ©mon Ranch, it seems the Wii can't quite decide what it wants to do with the PokÃ©mon franchise. I was really ready to get behind PokePark, as its premise (platforming plus minigames) sounded like it could have been a lot of fun. However, the monotony of the "friend"-ing exercises and the lack of multiplayer make this game feel like more of a chore than it should be. It has some undeniable charm (especially in the visuals department) but after the initial cuteness factor wears off, you're left with a game that is fun in places but doesn't offer that much beyond tired single-player mini-games and a friend roster to fill. This game is really only good for the youngest of PokÃ©mon fans, and even then, kids might find themselves bored and/or frustrated with this title.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director