Over the weekend, while my wife was out getting her hair done, my daughter and I were watching the Nintendo Channel on the Wii. The Nintendo Channel is a marketing gimmick from Nintendo that lets you watch trailers for and download demos of current and upcoming games for both the Wii and the DS. The DS game demo download capability is especially sweet.
While we were going through the list of things on the Nintendo Channel, we came across the trailer for Pokemon Ranch.
Once my daughter knew that there was some Pokemon related item out there that she did not posses, it became imperative we get it. We had 1200 Wii points sitting there unused, so I caved in and we grabbed it.
From a game perspective, this may be the worst use of my Wii points so far. There is no game there.
What you have is a farm, where a Mii named Haley raises Pokemon. The Pokemon are have about the same level of detail as a Mii and all end up looking cute in a low-res, spherical sort of way.
Haley has six Pokemon on the farm and you can bring in up to five of your own Miis to come hang out on the farm. Your Miis all get nice little cowboy outfits like Haley and they wander around petting or getting zapped by the various Pokemon while you watch.
And watch is about all you can do. You cannot really manipulate anything in the game. I could barely control the camera. Once in the while the Pokemon do a routine, like stand at attention in a spiral or form a totem pole, but that is about it. You can take screen shots of them which you can save off to an SD card if you so desire. Being JPEGs of television screen grabs, they are about as bad as you expect. Here is an overview of the ranch:
Every day Haley adds a new Pokemon to the farm. The longer you have the game, and the more Pokemon there are, the more things they do.
All in all, if that was all there was to Pokemon Ranch, it would be complete crap, a screen saver featuring ill-drawn Pokemon.
But if you have a Nintendo DS and Pokemon Diamond or Pearl, there is more you can do. Not a lot more, but enough.
You can link your DS via wireless to the Wii and move some of your Pokemon to the ranch. The capacity of the ranch on day one is 20 Pokemon, so you cannot drop a ton into the game, but every day the ranch grows a little and is capable of accepting more Pokemon and more Miis, with a peak capacity of 1,000 Pokemon.
My daughter grew bored with the six Pokemon in the game, so moved a few of hers to the ranch.
Once you have linked though, something new happens. The game downloads your National Pokedex information and then creates a set of three wanted posters for Pokemon which you have not yet obtained.
This, of course, is the challenge. You now have to go out, get those three Pokemon, then transfer them over to the ranch. All you get are more wanted posters as a reward for getting the current wanted, but as a driver, this turned out to be just compelling enough for my daughter, and we spent the afternoon trying to catch or trade for various Pokemon, only stopping when we hit the ranch’s capacity of 20 Pokemon.
And, as it turns out, the more Pokemon who end up on the ranch, the more interesting or amusing watching the ranch becomes. The flying Pokemon sometimes pick up and fly around with their ground based friends. The Pokemon ride around on each other. Every so often the hit one of the Miis with an attack. They run from each other, fall asleep, wake up, and interact in some minor ways.
One of the most amusing interactions, for me at least, is the fact that a Pokemon or a Mii will become interested in another Pokemon or Mii. With the Pokemon it is cute, but with the Miis it can be quite funny.
At one point it said that Haley was interested in Wilhelm. Then Wilhelm was interested in Patty (the Pat Benatar Mii I made, showing my age). Then Patty was interested in Haley, and I thought we had the makings of a soap opera.
Haley and Wilhelm:
Haley and Patty heading off to…
All told, Pokemon Ranch stayed up on our TV for about six hours that day.
Yesterday morning my daughter got up early… because it is Summer and she does not have to go to school, or so I have surmised… and found that the ranch had been expanded and could now hold 50 Pokemon.
Then, when I got home from work, I found that she had figured out all the controls and discovered all sorts of new little things you can do in the game. Before bed she was busy trying to put the Pokemon in what she designated the sleeping area.
I suspect we will be working on the Pokemon Ranch for a while to come. I just hope that they update the sound track some day. The music has got to go. Maybe my daughter will figure that out as well.