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Gaming Flashback: Pokémon Trading Card Game

Gaming Flashback: Pokémon Trading Card Game

I briefly touched on several of the Pokémon spin-off games back when I talked about the first generation Pokémon games in the first edition of Gaming Flashback, but today I wanted to take a little more in depth look at the Pokémon Trading Card Game for the Game Boy. As a fan of the paper version of the Pokémon: Trading Card game, since the release of the original Base Set in North America back in January of 1999, I look back at sixteen years of the Pokémon Card Game in today's Gaming Flashback with a review of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is an incredibly faithful adaptation of of its paper counterpart. Within its Game Boy entry it features all of the cards from the first three expansions of its real life source material; Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil. Following all of the rules of the paper version of the game, you begin each game with a hand of seven cards from your deck of sixty cards. After drawing your hand, you place the next six cards from your deck aside as a prize cards, unless your opening hand doesn't contain a basic Pokemon, in which case you shuffle your hand into your deck and draw seven new cards.

After determining your starting hand, you can place up to six basic Pokemon cards from your hand to the play area, one of which will be your active Pokemon and the remaining Pokemon will sit on your bench, mimicking the six Pokémon teams from the main series games. After each player has their hands and at least one active Pokémon, you determine who plays first with a coin flip, after this is decided you start the first turn of the game.

At the start of your turn you draw a card and then resolve special conditions like paralyze and confusion. After this you start your main phase, during this phase you may play basic Pokemon to your bench, play trainer cards, evolve a Pokémon (as long as its not the turn you played it or your first turn), attach a single energy card from your hand to one of your Pokemon, or you can have your active Pokémon attack.

After attacking, your turn ends and your opponent begins his turn. If your attack results in an opponent's Pokémon being knocked out, pick up one of your prize cards and add it to your hand. Once you have picked up all of your prizes, knocked out your opponent's last Pokémon, or if your opponent has no cards in their deck when they need to draw a card, you win the game. That's the rules of the game in a nutshell, the game's tutorial should answer any lingering questions you may have regarding the games.

Aside from playing the card game, there isn't much too the experience, it attempts to mimic the main series games by having you begin with a deck based around either Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. From here you travel to the island's eight clubs, where you will battle each club's members before battling the leader to earn a badge. Upon collecting all eight badges, you must face off against the Great Four to earn your right to possess the Legendary Pokémon cards.

Sadly, due to your initial deck being weak and the player not starting out with a large number of cards, the game turns into a grind fest as you must battle opponents repeatedly in order to gain booster packs and add more cards to your collection. This grinding eventually comes to the point of tedium, as you continue to unlock commons and uncommons even beyond having a play set, so in your quest to pull a single rare card for your deck, you may pull ten or fifteen of one you don't want.The game also lacks an overworld, so you simply choose a destination and you're there, leaving you with even fewer options for places to find opponents to battle.

The game's presentation features rather impressive recreations of the art for the cards, especially for the Game Boy's hardware, especially when you play the game on the Game Boy Color. The remaining sprite work is fairly standard for a Pokémon title, with a few of them even being taken straight out of the main series games. The music is also nothing to write home about, and I hope you're ready to hear the menu theme because its the same as the battle theme and you'll be hearing a lot of it with all of the grinding you'll be doing to be able to advance your way through the game.

Pokémon Trading Card Game is a very hard game to recommend these days, especially when you get into its multiplayer suite and find how little there really is to do outside of the game's story mode. Despite some gorgeous recreations of the card game's early artwork, there isn't much reason to come back to this game all these years later, espeially since Nintendo has released a superior version of the game with Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. While the game is available on the 3DS Virtual Console, it isnt a game I can recommend, except to the most hardcore of Pokemon fans.

Pokémon Trading Card Game was a great representation of the paper version of the game in its day, but because of changes to the game over the past fifteen years and the release of Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, this game has been made obsolete.

Final Say: Skip It

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