Review: Pokemon Trading Card Game (Nintendo 3DS)

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Pokemon Trading Card Game
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Hudson Soft
Genre: Card Game
Release Date: 11/13/2014 (GBC release on 04/10/2000)

People like me have been waiting for this for a long time. I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve spent on Pokemon TCG. I played the card game when I was in middle school, and I poured dozens of hours into the GBC adaptation as a young adult. Now I’m a little bit older and ready, willing, and able to pour hours into the virtual console port of the game.

For the uninitiated, PTCG carries over cards from the first three sets of the physical game. It ties them together with a story that apes the main Pokemon games in every conceivable way. You play as a young lad off to start his adventure in card battling. There are eight clubs to conquer, and therefore eight medals to acquire. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is take down the four grandmasters and your rival. Pull that off, and you’re given four legendary cards to add to your deck. It’s simple, straightforward, and is more inclined to push you forward rather than tell an interesting story.

pokemoncard1It should be noted that a couple of the features from the GBC version are sadly missing from this port. For starters, you can’t hook up with another person. This eliminates multiplayer battling and the “card pop” feature that gave you access to exclusive cards. Also missing is the ability to use the Gameboy printer. I doubt anyone really misses that, though.

To make up for these losses, the game takes advantage of some simple 3DS features. First of all, being able to save mid battle (or in the middle of taking down the final four) is a life saver. Simply using the power save feature allows you to take a break once in a while without worrying about getting through a lengthy battle. It’s a superior experience from a single player perspective.

pokemoncard2The presentation for this game actually holds up quite well. As a Gameboy game, it was never much of a looker, but the colors and card models are still clear. They give the game a decent amount of personality. It’s kind of a shame that you have to go to a separate screen to read what a card does, but it’s also remarkable this game ran on the GBC at all. The music is pretty darn good, with the battle theme somehow not getting old after hours of play. Obviously it can’t compare to modern standards, but that’s OK.

If you’ve never played the trading card game before, it’s pretty simple. You put a Pokemon out onto the field, attach energy to that ‘mon, and use its attack. Whenever you knock out an opponent’s Pokemon, you get a prize. First player to collect all the prizes is the one that wins. You can also win if your opponent runs out of Pokemon to put into play, or if they run out of cards in their deck. It’s a system that is incredibly easy to learn. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its nuances.

For starters, there are various effects that attack can cause. Paralyzed Pokemon can’t act on their turn, sleeping Pokemon have to wake up before they can do anything, poisoned Pokemon take damage at the end of each turn, and confused Pokemon might damage themselves. Players can also use Trainer cards to provide a number of effects. You can draw cards, heal your Pokemon, etc. When you consider evolutions, weaknesses, resistances, and retreat costs, there’s actually a lot to consider when building a deck.

pokemoncard3The game works by having you go from club to club to challenge various players. You move directly from club to club via a map. You don’t need to worry about mazes or random battles. You only start a duel when you talk to people, and even then you have to agree to it first. When you beat someone, you are given one of four different booster packs that each contain ten cards. With a little more than two-hundred cards in the game, it won’t take long to build a decent collection. Your only worry might be not having enough energy cards. That’s easily remedied by going up against a couple of players that give you a bunch when you beat them.

Once you’ve claimed the legendary cards, there’s not all that much to do. You can compete in a few tournaments or grind for boosters to fill out your collection. Beyond that, you can retry the grandmasters with different deck types or mess around if you want. If you rush, you can beat the game in about a dozen hours. That’s not a huge amount of value, but the game is only six bucks now.

Short Attention Span Summary
diehardjack1-150x150If you’ve never played Pokemon Trading Card Game before, now is as good a time to jump in as any As a VC game, it holds up quite well despite being fifteen years old. A few of the features are missing, but the convenience of the 3DS tech makes up for most of it. It’s a fun, streamlined game that will appeal to any Pokemon fanatic out there. Let’s hope Nintendo cracks and releases an update for the 3DS at some point.

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