Game Review

PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Trevor Chan

A substandard spin-off appears!

Let's face it, Nintendo's churned out filler titles before while we waited for the next main instalment in the Pokémon series, and that's exactly what PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure is. A spin-off from the more traditional Pokémon games, its focus is primarily on meeting and befriending others via mini-games across various zones with different themes. There's nothing wrong with a simple premise, but when the simplicity spills over to the other areas, it's a recipe for disappointment.

The narrative is as follows: If the Sky Prism loses its power it could cause the Sky Pavilion to fall onto the PokéPark, and it's shattered into 14 pieces that have fallen over the land. The park contains various skill games and attractions; beat your opponent at these and they will become your friend. You will also gain berries which you can spend on the amusements or use to improve your stats. Players are eligible to take part in certain games after they have made a specific number of friends, which gives the player a reason to find them all.

Even before you have finished the tutorial at the start you'll know that the somewhat uninspired choice of using a sideways Wii Remote to play a 3D roaming game is going to be frustrating. The B button is used to centre the camera behind Pikachu; since this is the only way to alter your view, the question that will inevitably pop into the player's mind is "How do I hold the controller in a comfortable way over a long period of time?" What appears at first to be a mundane conundrum is actually one of the game's major downfalls.

Although you can point the Wii Remote at the screen and use the infrared pointer to look at your surroundings, this only benefits the player when they are stationary or taking photographs. This unfortunately makes it hard to enjoy the nicely-rendered environments in a spontaneous way.

The game does make use of several motion-control gestures in a few of the skill games and attractions, but there's only so much that you can do with a standalone Wii Remote. Races sometimes require players to shake the horizontal controller up and down to sprint, an air hockey-esque arena will test your hand-eye coordination as well as your reaction speed, and the variations on third-person flight races aren't bad. They're nothing mind-blowing, but at least they're a few examples of how gameplay becomes a bit more varied with engaging controls. Sadly, these moments are about as common as the queen.

Let's move onto the difficulty curve. Well... there isn't one, actually. The game is as straightforward as it could possibly get, with the gist being "meet a Pokémon, beat them at a skill game, repeat." As you progress, your opponents will have higher stats – but so will you. For the more experienced player, the prospect of befriending all 193 Pokémon might seem like a great challenge. Wrong! There are times when you won't have to do a thing other than talk to them before they're begging to be your chum.

The visuals are just about the only positive that this game produces. Characters and objects look suitably well-defined and solid, but the developers could have spruced up the menu screens a bit more. The environments actually carry a level of enticement, it's just a shame that players don't get to explore them in any meaningful way.

The audio is non-intrusive, which works as an advantage as players will be doing a lot of repetitive stuff and the last thing that you want is an annoying soundtrack that just won’t go away. The rather dormant sound design does make every zone sound alike, which stands in contrast to the effort that's been put into making them visually different from each other.

Pikachu's Adventure is clearly aimed at the younger demographic, but that shouldn't mean that other gamers should be ignored. Indeed, it is the ridiculously easy and repetitive gameplay that makes this game nothing more than a let-down. We're sure that even younger gamers have higher standards than this. If anyone continues to venture beyond the six hour mark, it's either because they either have to finish a collection once they've started, are nuts about Pokémon or, more likely, are just easily entertained.

Past Pokémon spin-offs have always had an obvious new direction that deviates from the main series, but this time, the change seems to have been pointless. The game requires players to go through what are essentially mini-games in order to progress, but they offer neither variation nor substantial enjoyment. For the most part, it will engage you in a game of tag or a real-time battle. Other kinds of excursions such as races and platform events are few and far between, which gives the impression that the developers put too much stock in its target audience's patience. There's an arcade mode that allows players who want a break from the main game to just play the attractions within it, but building up a list of best times and record scores with different Pokémon isn't enough to compensate the easiness of it all.

For a simple game that doesn't rely on frills, it does what it needs to do – it's just a shame that it doesn't try to be more adventurous, like its name suggests. In fact, perhaps PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Long-Winded Meet & Greet That Doesn't Seem to End might have been more apt.

Conclusion

Whatever the expectations of this game are in your neck of the woods, we have a feeling that they're way above the satisfaction that it will offer you. Buy it if you are thinking of starting your own Pokémon museum, or if you have youngsters at home who want wholesome yet unsurprising ways to kill thirteen or so hours. It's a shame that a respectable franchise should have something so mediocre tarnish its name, but hopefully this will be a lesson for Creatures Inc. to take on board and realise that if it's going to produce a spin-off it should make sure that it's something they themselves would play.

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User Comments (65)

Cipher

#5

Cipher said:

This doesn't really surprise. Kids'll absolutely love it but it is just for kids, really.

BulbasaurusRex

#9

BulbasaurusRex said:

How are the real-time battles? That's what I'm most interested in. Can you replay the real-time battles after the initial fight?

metaknave

#11

metaknave said:

Saw it coming. In response to the subtitle...

Go! Nintendo Life!
Nintendo Life used review! It's super effective! :D
The spin-off fainted. Nintendo Life got 592 XP!

TwilightV

#12

TwilightV said:

Pfft. It's way better than their previous attempt (Pokemon Channel) which was basically a huge step back from their first ( Hey You! Pikachu). :P

iAlias

#14

iAlias said:

Wow. Not a huge fan of Pokemon anyway, so I won't waste my money here...

touffeboy

#15

touffeboy said:

Seriously it's a really cute and funny game, and yes bulburus you can fight after the initial's one ;)

RaylaxStaff

#17

Raylax said:

Kinda expected that, thought it might've been a smidge higher though.

HipsterDashie

#19

HipsterDashie said:

Bah, why am I still tempted to buy this?!

I guess I am just curious to give it a go for myself, however I'm not spending money on a game I will probably not enjoy.

YoshiSage

#20

YoshiSage said:

Ouch. I was expecting this to at least be OK. Hell, I was even thinking about picking it up. :|

jbrodack

#21

jbrodack said:

looked pretty lame so not surprised. only spin off that looked good was the mystery dungeon ones for wiiware.

Klapaucius

#23

Klapaucius said:

I'll still get it 2nd hand some day. Just like Pokemon Channel, it sucks, but hey its Pokemon and I love it :P

DrCruse

#26

DrCruse said:

That's too bad :/
I'm still kicking myself for picking up that piece of rubbish known as Pokemon Rumble.

Morpheel

#33

Morpheel said:

pokemon spinoff games with "pikachu" in their name or their cover are just... no.

Stuffgamer1

#36

Stuffgamer1 said:

Wow, this review is actually BELOW the Metacritic average. That doesn't seem to happen too often on NLife. Not that I generally put much stock in Metacritic; I just noticed it on the page and found it odd.:P

Anyway, I'm in the group that expected it to be "meh," but not THAT bad. Wasn't planning on getting it either way, though.

KaiserGX

#37

KaiserGX said:

I wasn't planning on getting it either so I don't really care either, since I'm getting Wii Party!

Bensei

#38

Bensei said:

@bulbasaurus Rex: Could have been great, if they weren't that easy. If you want realtime Pokébattles, Pokémon Rumble will be the better decision.

I still have to complete it, but I would give it a 7/10 till now, with the cautious warning that after the age of 10 every year of age decreases the fun intensively.
At first I also hated the tune of the green zone, since the BGs repeat themselves after like 20-30 seconds. But later on I found the music quite fitting and well composed for just 30 secs, with little alterations as you change places.

TrevorTheChan

#39

TrevorTheChan said:

Bulbasaurus Rex: Perhaps the term 'battle' is over-playing it slightly. The fights can last between five and twenty five seconds. Opponents' health bars aren't substantial and you can typically beat them in 2-5 attacks; especially when you start upgrading your stats. Players can repeat these as many times as they like.

Gavin_Rozee

#40

Gavin_Rozee said:

I've been enjoying this game since it launched. It is pretty repetitive, and fairly easy, but I've been having a great time going from place to place and exploring.

It really isn't as bad as the review suggests, and I urge people to try the game if they were planning to and not let this review completely put them off.

If it matters at all, I'd personally give the game a solid 7, and I'm not even a huge Pokéfan.

paulcmnt

#41

paulcmnt said:

The score must be a mistake. I mean, it has Pokemon in the title, how could it not get a good score?

FonistofCruxis

#42

FonistofCruxis said:

@KaiserGX If this got a 7, it would be higher than expected, I don't base my opinion soley on nl reviews. Although I agree with most of nl's reviews there are still many that I disagree with.

ExploderReviews

#43

ExploderReviews said:

Um... Im kindof weirded out. I was going to use a picture of a pokemon talking in english to say that it cant be the jaoan release your reviewing, and i didnt think it was out yet, but then the picture just disapeared. So nevermind.

ExploderReviews

#44

ExploderReviews said:

*Japan, sorry, and just to clear it up i didnt think it was released in the uk or the us or anywhere else yet.

Marioman64

#45

Marioman64 said:

this is gonna be amazing! i can't wait for it to come out in USA! finally a full world that you can control the pokemon in that is NOT in a mystery dungeon! i've been waiting for them to do this, i hope i can play as eevee cuz eevee is awesome

FJOJR

#46

FJOJR said:

Every Wii comes with a nunchuk. I don't know why developers are afraid to use it.

ToastyYogurt

#48

ToastyYogurt said:

Not a surprise. Why Nintendo churns out crappy spin offs between real games we'll never know. Then again I don't play Pokemon anymore so I guess I shouldn't care :P

StarDust4Ever

#49

StarDust4Ever said:

Nintendo, I am disappointed!!!

They should know better than to spoon-feed gamers with rubbish like this. I've always hated Pokemon ever since it came out when I was in high school, and over half the gameboy color racks in stores were filled with pooke-poo...

Simon_Deku

#50

Simon_Deku said:

The handheld pokemon games are awesome! I don't get why stardust hates them. The pokemon games for the wii always stink though, with the exeption of pokemon snap.

JLDR

#54

JLDR said:

I must be easily entertained, this one deserves a 7. It might not be a masterpiece but it is enjoyable. Bad review.

rjejr

#55

rjejr said:

My 5 and 7 year old boys have really been looking forward to this since seeing the video on Nintendo Channel. Unfortunately Amazon doesn't even have a release date yet. Which is only surprising b/c even Mario Sports Mix has a release date (although a highly fictional one of Dec 31, 2011).
I have to say though, I can't see buying this for them at $50.

Senri

#57

Senri said:

I can't believe N takes regular dumps on its biggest franchise. They make plenty of good accessible (playable by kids, adults) games like NSMB and MG2. I know Pokemon stuff sells itself but really there's not one quality Pokemon game on the Wii.

Is a full fledged Pokemon RPG for the Wii too much to ask ?

Akirih

#58

Akirih said:

Despite the review I'm still playing the game, and I find the battle system just awesome, I wished all pokemon games had battle like that.

Before someone starts Babbling about my opinion note: its just MY opinion.

Pokeman

#60

Pokeman said:

All you do in pokepark is just do some crap and just chase,play hide and go seek ,and bash into people who just suck at fighting you. But all i give it is just a 5 out of 10

Mryokokurama1

#64

Mryokokurama1 said:

My six year old cousin has it i had fun playing it not much bad about it i like it alot ill give it a 7 atleast cus it got boring beating pokemon so easyily.

TheDreamingHawk

#65

TheDreamingHawk said:

Pikachu draws near!

NintendoLife's attack!

Pikachu lost 6 damage.

Pikachu used Easy mode!

Nintendolife's final blow!

Pikachu was sent back to the bargain bin!

Couldn't help but do that. now, prepare yourself... I HATE THIS GAME SO MUCH!!!!!! I was so excited for it when it came to Japan. It seemed like one of those nice games to relax yourself while playing, and I wanted to play it with friends. But when there was no multiplayer, I got nervous. When I got the game for my birthday a few years ago, I couldn't play it anymore.

This game is TOO EASY! I mean it. I don't expect any game to be as cruel as a game like VVVVVV is, but SERIOUSLY. The chase game is too easy, even against pokemon that should be fast. (It's still fun to do it to slowpoke for a laugh, though!) And the battles are a joke. I battled a Torterra who had more health that me, and I beat him without taking damage. HE IS A GRASS TYPE! IT SHOULD BE AT LEAST A LITTLE TOUGHER! It's like the developers of this game had their brains blanked out and forgot that Pokemon should appeal to all ages, not just the little kids. It didn't feel as fun as a game like Mario Party would. Even my little cousin, who is a big pokemon fan, found this game horribly boring and easy, and he is 5! I just hope Nintendo learned their lesson with Pokepark 2, which I haven't played yet.

I do like that the map is like Zelda, though!:D

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