Thursday, December 06, 2012

Pokemon - Trading Card Game

Now you can collect cards without being tricked by others into performing malicous acts as a bribe.
Review By MisterPanda
Yes, everyone remembers the Pokémon trading card game, or TCG. Whether you are a hardcore fan and still try to collect every card, a fad follower who collected the cards to be “popular”, a Pokémon hater who for some reason is reading this, or even a suspicious fellow who used the cards to trick… Never mind, I’ve said too much. Anyway, the Pokémon trading card game was extremely popular in many countries, especially the U.S. and Japan. 

However, if you ever collected Pokémon cards, then you know that it cost ridiculously high amounts of money to collect tons of booster packs and individual cards that you so desired. Also, for those of you over the age of 12, Wizards of the Coast seemed to discourage you from playing the game with the little kids. Luckily, for those of you whose wallets are consistently empty or are just plain embarrassed to keep spending cash on Pokémon cards, the Pokémon Trading Card Game for GBC was released. This allowed you to play a $30 digital version of the card game without the hassles of bending your “precious” cards or wasting nearly five bucks on every booster pack, only to discover that you didn’t get a card you wanted. 

GAMEPLAY: First off, if the name of the game did not make it obvious enough, the game is based on the Pokémon Trading Card Game. You play with cards featuring the first 151 Pokémon of the series. For anyone that doesn’t know which Pokémon are, it’s from Bulbasaur to Mew. 

The over world itself is shaped like an RPG. You visit different clubs gathering info, trading cards, and of course battling others. One thing different from regular Pokémon RPGs is that you do not actually have to travel through different routes with random Pokémon battles. In fact, forget any random battles at all in this game. To get from one club to another, just move the cursor over the desired club and voila! Also, a little bonus for those of you who did not like the slow pace of the main character in Red/Blue/Gold/Silver, holding down the B button now allows you to run, much like the running shoes in Ruby/Sapphire. This is simply a little extra for those of you who get annoyed easily by sluggish movements. 

Speaking of clubs, they are the main destinations for your trip, aside from the Pokémon Dome, Mason Lab, Challenge Hall, and the secret house. Those familiar with the Pokémon RPGs will know that the main character must travel to different gyms and collect badges. In Pokémon TCG, you travel to different clubs and collect medals. Wow! No one’s going to see the resemblance here, Nintendo. Putting that aside, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to keep similar gameplay as long as it works. Anyway, the clubs each have about 3 members and a club leader, whose battles usually take longer. Defeating the club leader in a card game will grant you possession of the respective medal for the club. 

However, as you may have guessed, each club is different and specializes their own types of Pokémon and/or use their own different strategies. With this in mind, you can modify your card deck to have the best possible Pokémon for battling each member. The 8 different clubs are the Stone Club, the Lightning Club, the Fighting Club, the Water club, the Leaf Club, the Science Club, the Fire club, and the Psychic Club. When you have earned all 8 medals, you are given a chance at besting the Grand Masters at their own game. Along the way, expect multiple appearances by your rival, Ronald, and the mysterious Imakumi. 

The card game itself is actually entertaining and requires lots of strategy. For those who do have never played the TCG, it goes like this. Each player starts with 60 cards and draws seven of them. Four cards (six cards for club leaders) act as Prize cards. You choose a basic Pokémon to be your active Pokémon. Up to 5 of your other basic Pokémon act as your benched Pokémon, which will battle, should the predecessor fail in battle. For those who want to know what a basic Pokémon is, it is simply the unevolved form of a Pokémon, such as Goldeen, Machop, or Zapdos. Each Pokémon has their own unique attacks and differentiating amounts of HP (hit points) that balance each other out so that no one Pokémon is the strongest. 

You apply energy cards to the Pokémon to allow them energy to attack. However, different types of Pokémon need different types of energy cards. For example, a fire Pokémon would require a fire energy card rather than a water energy card. The opposite goes for the water Pokémon as well. Since you can only carry so many energy cards, this puts a limit on the kinds of Pokémon you can carry. Of course, in some occasions, an attack will require colorless energy, which can be fulfilled with any type of energy card. Attacking a Pokémon ends your turn, so you will want to save that action for last.  

Finally, when you start attacking, you’ll notice little circles by your card which designate damage. If the circles are filled with black counters, then you have taken damage. Once all the circles are filled with a black counters, then your Pokémon is knocked out and your opponent receives one of his or her 4 prize cards. After someone has taken all of his/her prize cards, then he/she has won the game. 

However, victory does not come cheap. There are many factors that come into play during the battle. For one, most attacks have some kind of special ability or flaw that changes gameplay a bit. For example, if an attack requires a coin flipped to heads to work then, the coin must be flipped to heads. If you must discard an energy card to use the attack, then you must do so. If you are forced to receive damage upon attacking, then so be it.  

Additionally, there are many opportunities for a status change, which many RPG fans will recognize instantly. A status change affects your game strategy. For example, if your Pokémon is confused, then you will have to flip a coin to heads to attack. Otherwise, you hit yourself in confusion. If you are asleep, you must flip a coin to heads to wake up. Until then, enjoy your little rest. If you are paralyzed, you miss one turn of attacking, giving your opponent some extra time for strategizing his/her next move. Finally, one of the most deadly status changes is becoming poisoned. For every turn you are poisoned, you lose 10 HP until you die. 

If the gameplay weren’t confusing enough, you must consider the weakness and resistance of certain Pokémon. If a Pokémon is weak to a certain element, then it the power of the attack will be doubled. If a Pokémon caters a resistance to a certain element, then 30 points of damage will be reduced from the attack. Paying attention to the weaknesses and resistance of certain Pokémon can allow you to configure decks to have the upper edge in battle.  

To avoid giving your opponent prize cards, you will want to retreat your active Pokémon every so often, which usually requires the cost of a few energy cards to discard. However, if you are desperate, retreating a Pokémon is a good way to keep your Pokémon safe to use for a later time. 

If you do not want to retreat a Pokémon, it is usually a good decision to evolve it. Evolving it usually making it a stronger Pokémon, but with strengths come difficulties. For one, the attacks usually cost more energy. Also, the retreat cost is usually a tad higher than it was previously. A nice point is that many fully evolved Pokémon have a unique Pokémon Power that allows you to do whatever it says, but still have the chance to do an attack. Many have different requirements. For example, some powers can only be used while the opponent is attacking. Others can be used while you are attacking. Basically, it’s just an extra power that makes the Pokémon all the more special.  

Finally, the cards that will have some of the biggest effects on strategies are trainer cards. These cards are not Pokémon, but instead feature special abilities not necessarily related to attacking. For example, the card Bill allows you to draw two extra cards during your turn. The card Professor Oak allows you to discard your current hand and draw 7 new cards from the deck. Others allow you to search through discard piles and decks for the cards you desire. These cards will certainly change the flow of gameplay. 

Winning doesn’t come that easy and requires strategy and excellent deck-building. By modifying your deck to the best quality, you may become almost unbeatable. After you finally win a battle, you are given 2 booster packs, each with 10 cards. Add these cards to your current decks or make new ones. You can make as many decks as you want, which is where a lot of fun comes into play. Mixing and matching different combinations of cards proves to be a pleasure.  

The game itself is not without its flaws. For one thing, the cards in the game only go up to the Fossil set. There are less than 200 cards, which is a big limit considering that many card expansions have come up since the game was made. Not having the more recent expansions allow more simple gameplay, which is not always a bad thing. Another flaw comes with the redundancy of luck in the game. Many times, the fate of the entire battle rests on one coin flip. Although it is luck itself that allows you to get the cards you need, the excessive coin flipping proves to be highly annoying. Finally, the card battles will eventually get repetitive. Although you can fight each club member as many times as you want, they always have the same cards. 

The game will not give you infinite fun, but it will surely keep you busy, especially if you like collecting and playing with cards, but do not want to spend any money. With the obvious addition of link cable connectivity, you can battle others who have their own custom decks. Although the game revolves around Pokémon, you do not necessarily have to like it to a high extent.  

GRAPHICS: The game looks like the Pokémon RPGs. There is nothing too special about those overhead RPG graphics. The actual Pokémon come in the form of cards, and as such don’t move at all. They look exactly like the real life card versions. In fact, some cards made especially for the GBC version of the game exist and look interesting. The attacks each Pokémon makes look dull and would be better turned off. 

STORY: The Legendary Pokémon cards are held by the Grand Masters. (like the Elite Four in the RPG) You say to yourself, “I will be the one to get these cards.” Your rival, Ronald has the same idea. So, with the help of Dr. Mason, a researcher, you travel to different clubs and collect medals. Kudos to you if you see the resemblance between this storyline and the Pokémon RPG’s storyline. 

SOUND: The music, especially the battle music, throughout the game is catchy and tends to be on the techno side. There is nothing wrong with the music, but it’s not exactly extraordinary compared to some of the great tunes the Pokémon RPGs have concocted. 

REPLAYABLE: Trying to collect all the cards and building new decks will be the main point of replay value in the game. Since you can battle everyone over and over again for leisure or for collecting, the game never really gets old… until you realize that the opponents haven’t really spruced up their strategies or A.I. That’s where friends come in who by miracle also share the same interest in this game as you do. By battling them with the use of a link cable, you’ll feel like you were actually playing the real card game. Of course, if you don’t find a friend to play with, you’re stuck with the dumb A.I. 

OVERALL: Anyone that likes the trading card game already will surely want to buy this at all costs. As an extra, buying the game comes with a limited edition Meowth card, though I’m not sure if they still offer the extra. If you like the regular Pokémon RPG games for the GB/GBC/GBA such as Red/Blue or Ruby/Sapphire, then you will most likely enjoy and want to purchase this. If you like other collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-gi-oh! Duel Monsters, then you may like it and want to give it a rent. If you hate Pokémon, then the answer to this question is a no-brainer. 

SYSTEM: Nintendo Game Boy Color



  1. Step into the next dimension of your journey into battle using the might of the Boundary Pokemon - both White Kyurem and Black Kyurem! Harness the powers of more Pokemon-EX like Landorus, Cresselia, and Celebi. Keldeo makes its debut in Black & White Boundaries Crossed as both a Pokemon and a Pokemon-EX.....
    pokemon trading card