Review: PokéPark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure

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Mundane. Boring. Monotonous. Tedious. These are words that come to mind when I reflect on my time spent with PokéPark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure. I’m sure I could come up with a few harsher expletives, but given the game’s youthful slant, I’ll keep my descriptions more wholesome in tone.

Clearly I’ve already tipped you off to the fact that I didn’t dig this game too much, but let me explain a bit further, and also pay the game a few deserved compliments (before ultimately panning it).

First off, I actually appreciate the idea behind Pikachu’s Adventure. The PokéPark is basically a wildlife game reserve for Pokémon, and the game itself strives to be sort of an all-in-one Pokémon activity center. As Pikachu, you wander around the 3D park environment and talk to other Pokémon, make friends by besting fellow Pokémon in Skill Games, compete in main mini-games called Attractions, and complete exceedingly simple fetch jobs to progress the story. In a nod to Pokémon Snap, you can also snap photos and save them to an SD card if you have one handy, which is a feature I’m sure all Poké-fans can approve of.

Contrary to the surprisingly wordy story and chatty characters you’ll encounter, the gist of the game is really quite simple. Peace and happiness are beginning to fade in the PokéPark, and to restore the park’s once-friendly atmosphere, Pikachu must collect 14 Sky Prisms Pieces. If you couldn’t guess it already, each of the prism shards is the prize for winning an Attraction – so yes, that means there are 14 mini-games to complete in all.

Before you gain admittance to these Attractions, though, you must first chat with and befriend other Pokémon, that way they are added to your friend list and become available as playable characters during the mini-games, which is important because certain Pokémon are better at certain mini-games than Pikachu.

The park itself is divided into different zone areas, each with a unique theme. There is a lava zone, a tropical beach zone, a snow zone, a haunted house, underground caverns and even a hub meeting area with shops, trainers and a tree house that grows as you make new friends. It’s all rather cliché, but the visual variety keeps your senses stimulated and the colorful, albeit plain, graphics present the game with a pleasant cartoonish quality. And of course it wouldn’t be a Pokémon game without the cute Poké-speak (Pokémon communicate simply by saying their names in different ways, for those who don’t follow the franchise much).

The PokéPark is a bright, charming world to explore, but unfortunately the drab gameplay sucks away all potential for fun. For all the diversity of scenery and Poké-life, the PokéPark is a surprisingly dull playground with very little to do but roam about the land, take a few pictures and chat away. Befriending Pokémon generally requires competing in a Skill Game, of which there are only a handful of different types, such as hide-and-seek, trivia quizzes and chases. Oftentimes you’ll have to do battle with Pokémon to win their allegiance, but even the battle system is absurdly basic – just move away when the opponent attacks, then either ram into them or shoot a lighting zap and repeat until their hit points are depleted. Frankly, you’ll have a tougher time fighting with the controls than actually battling Pokémon. I don’t quite understand why so many of Nintendo’s 3D Wii games continue to force the sideways Wii Remote scheme. I mean come on, haven’t we learned by now that moving characters in a 3D world using a 2D D-pad doesn’t work so well?

Sadly, the Attractions aren’t any better. For starters, there are only 14 altogether, which isn’t very many for a mini-game-centric game that takes upwards of six hours to complete. And even more disappointing is the fact that the game offers no multiplayer content whatsoever, not even outside of the story mode in the separate free play mode. But I suppose the lack of multiplayer is a blessing in disguise, because I doubt many friends will want to join in anyway. Simply put, the mini-games are one-and-done snore-fests bereft of challenge or originality of any kind. None of the Attractions attempt to do anything new or interesting with the Wii’s motion control. For the most part, you’re either holding the Wii Remote sideways and tilting to steer in racing events or to fly through rings, shaking it up and down as fast as possible in track-and-field events like sprints and hurdles, or pointing it at the screen in the most basic of shooting gallery challenges.

That really is all there is to do in this game, and that’s too bad, because the concept has loads of potential and the game world is just bursting with untapped Pokémon spirit. Sorry to break it to you so bluntly, Pokémon fans, but this isn’t the Wii adventure you’ve been waiting for.

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Pros:
+ Bright, colorful graphics bring the PokéPark to life nicely
+ Making friends with Pokémon provides that “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” sensation
+ Snapping photos is a fun nod to Pokémon Snap

Cons:
– No variety to any of the game’s activities
– Mini-games are bland and boring
– Clumsy 3D controls and uninspired motion controls
– Slow pacing and regular fetch jobs get tedious in a hurry
– Mini-games don’t support multiplayer — and this is a game about making friends!

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Creatures Inc. / The Pokémon Company
Release Date: 11/1/2010
Genre: Action/Adventure
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!