Monday, January 21, 2013

Pokemon Ranger - Guardian Signs

Epic storylines and gameplay makes this an enjoyable game.
Review By Vy2012

I recently bought a copy of Pokemon Ranger Guardian Signs because this game happens to not being able to sell well for at least a year and they have still have new copies for that game. As much as I like the Pokemon Ranger series, I've give it a try and decided to buy a copy of Guardian Signs. I was thinking whether this game has problems that people don't want to discuss it or that they totally dislike it for some noble reason. Anyways, I tried it immediately and I do not see any problems associated with this role playing game. I sank loads of hours of gameplay and I, without a doubt, totally enjoyed this game more than Shadows or Almia or even the original Ranger. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed previous sequels as well.

GAMEPLAY: What's in the pause/menu button… A Pokemon Ranger has a single tool: the Capture Styler. Its design is attachable to the wrist and it carries a Capture Disc which is used to encircle loops on the Pokemon. The Styler has several functions. You can check your status, much like the Trainer Card. You can check the Browser, which works like the Pokedex. You can view Quests (discussed later on), Ranger Signs, Glossary, and the Map of the Oblivia Region. You can modify your Styler for power-ups. You also have the power to release Pokemon from your team; if you have 8 or more Pokemon, you must release Pokemons until you have 7 remaining. You can Quicksave during your game.

The status shows your Styler energy (HP) and Styler power. It also shows your Styler charge level that is used for a Charge Capture. It additionally shows how many Experience Points you need for leveling your Styler up. The Browser shows various Pokemon you find in the Oblivia region. For each Pokemon, it shows the location of these Pokemon, its type, Assist type, its Field Move, and the description of the Poke Assist. The Glossary shows you everything you need to know about captures and the region's islands.

Modification is a feature recycled from Shadows of Almia. While Shadows of Almia gives the Rangers upgrade cards for their Styler for each quest completed, in Guardian Signs you modify your Styler on your own. Using your Ranger Points you earn from S ranked captures, quests, and completed missions, you can spend these points to increase your HP and power. You also can increase power if you are in danger, build your defenses, lengthen your line, restore your HP for a completed capture, and decreasing the time it takes to perform a Power Charge.

Speaking of Power Charge, it is a capture technique introduced in Shadows of Almia that can double or triple your Styler Power for easier capture and the capture line is changed from blue to rainbow colored line. This technique also helps you earn a S rank for a completed capture if nothing else fails. Another feature for Guardian Signs is that you draw a symbol (or signs) that summons a Pokemon to help you. You can call on legendary beasts and certain flying Pokemons during the story.

What about in the field? You can use your control pad or your stylus to maneuver your player character for jogging in eight different directions while talking to civilians or confronting a Pokemon (which I will discuss later).

In Shadows of Almia, there is a field mechanic called field damage. Field damage occurs when you get attacked by a Pokemon such as a ramming attack (you'll notice when you hear a Pokemon's cry and see an exclamation mark) or stepping on hazards just like in real life such as magma which can cause severe injury or instant death and puddles which make people trip or fall. Your Styler takes damage for such hazards even if you are not in capture mode.

Guardian Signs takes the mechanic further so that field damage can occur during parts of the story. Let me point out some field damages. You fly in the sky during the storyline and you take at least 8 damage on your Styler if you are struck by lightning bolts. You go underwater to chase after Pokemon or grunts of a criminal organization and you take 5 damage on your Styler if you are hit by bubbles or a land mine and you fall behind from the target. Some field damage can go as high as 15!

The original Pokemon Ranger did not utilize field damage, even though there are a lot of hazards such as falling rocks and ramming Pokemon. If field damage is utilized in the original Ranger, the original would have been the hardest game of the three if encircling loops without letting go of your stylus wasn't enough.

CONTROLS: Confront to battle… You start a capture when you confront a Pokemon by jogging into them or when (if certain parts of the story) you are forced to confront one. In the original Ranger, in order to complete a capture, you have to encircle a fixed amount of loops on certain Pokemon without letting go from your Stylus (which involves dodging attacks).

This time around, starting in Shadows of Almia, a Pokemon's capture is represented by a HP bar. Each time you draw a loop around a Pokemon, the feeling of friendship is conveyed. The Capture Line is from the Disc and is used to encircle loops. Your Styler power is a source of power when you encircle loops around a Pokemon. When the HP bar is completely filled, its capture is complete and a Pokemon will join you on the team temporally in addition to filling up the Browser. You get Experience Points also. This mechanic is from Shadows of Almia and it is greatly improved than the original Ranger. You can relax or avoid a fatal attack for two seconds before you start circling again or otherwise, after about 2 seconds, the wild Pokemon regenerates HP and you will lose friendship value. If you run out of all of your Styler Energy, you will no longer be able to maintain the job as a Pokemon Ranger (a game over).

Another mechanic of Guardian Signs is that a agitated Pokemon has a red HP bar. You can't flee, you take more damage if your Styler is hit by a Pokemon's attack and it is difficult to transmit friendship when you encircle loops (10% of your Styler power, rounded down to the nearest whole number i.e. 39 power = 3 power on agitated Pokemon). Some Pokemon can get agitated twice!

If the Pokemon is frightened, you take less damage when your Styler is hit by a Pokemon's attack. However, it moves with insane speed and it has the chance to run away. Confronting them before capture is also hard.

The bottom right of the touch screen shows 7 Pokemon in your party exhibiting their Poke Assist potentials. You tap on a Pokemon and hold it until you let go of your stylus and pick the right spot to perform its assist. Some Poke Assist can cover a certain range depending on each Pokemon. For example, Piplup can exert bubbles in the direction he is facing, or Chikorita unleashes several plants surrounding her for coverage. Type matchup matters too! Successful placing, timing, and planning can lead to desirable, quicker, and positive results.

On the negative side, if your Pokemon is hit by a wild Pokemon's attack, even if your Pokemon has resistance due to its typing, this Pokemon is automatically released and you can't use its assist again. Also only one Pokemon at a time can perform their assist. You still have to draw loops around a wild Pokemon to complete your capture; your assisting Pokemon doesn't complete the capture for you. The bottom left of the touch screen is used to flee from captures. You can't flee from forced battles or an agitated Pokemon.

DIFFICULTY: Is the game hard? Due to the battle mechanics in Shadows of Almia and expanded mechanics of this game, this game is not terribly hard if you know what you are doing. Most Pokemon are easy to capture and their attacks have short coverage that will still enable you to circle loops; boss Pokemon is an exception. This should not be taken lightly; even small Pokemon have skills such as speed and coverage that can inflict massive damage on your Styler should you not be careful. Once you studied the attacks of what every single Pokemon tries to do, you can avoid it and capture it easily without fear.

One thing I noticed is that your HP and power is increased when you level up your Styler and because of the amount of power that is given to you, the Pokemon in past missions in the storyline becomes super easy to capture that even one loop can complete it. How the game and its previous sequels was commonly criticized…

When some people play Pokemon Ranger, they complained that these games are terribly hard and it is tedious to repeat those loops when they disconnect. They also claim that this mechanic might ruin the Nintendo DS in addition to hurting their wrists…such an excuse for disliking the game. Encircling loops by using your stylus works up your wrist to keep the blood circulating, which is good for me.

STORY: The objective for this game… In general, you start out as a Ranger by partaking many official jobs and even saving the world. You are accompanied by a partner Pokemon to help you permanently on your captures. You also interact several characters that will be involved in certain parts of the story. Overall, the story and its dialogues from characters are reasonable and enjoyable although you are bound to see a lot of cutscenes.

SOUND: There are a lot of awesome soundtracks and colorful graphics than its previous sequels.
Story and Graphics stand out in almost every Pokemon games.

OVERALL: Guardian Signs happens to be a game where you will take a rest from playing other Pokemon version series. It is a refreshing moment to do something else instead of collecting 8 badges and training rigorously hard on your team. Whether you are a veteran of Pokemon games, a new player, or someone who dislikes previous Pokemon Ranger series, Ranger Signs should be recommended for anyone for a change of pace. It is definitely worth your time and money since I have played at least 50 hours of gameplay.

SYSTEM: Nintendo DS



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