Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Sign
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs finally brings multiplayer missions to the series
- Lengthy single player mode, the ability to import rare Pokemon to other DS games, flexible multiplayer missions
- Overall narrative is forgettable and dry, gameplay and puzzle solving elements get repetitive very early on
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs may have some new places to see and more gameplay features, but like previous titles in this side-series, it's just not interesting or engaging enough to warrant much attention from older gamers. Only the most hardcore Pokemon fans will want to trudge through this lengthy adventure for the promise of rare Legendaries, but everyone else might be better off sticking to the vastly superior core games.
The family friendly Pokemon Ranger series has always had some features that I wish other Pokemon games would adopt. For one thing, the main gimmick of capturing the titular creatures by furiously scribbling circles around them would be a great side-game in the main DS-based titles like HeartGold or SoulSilver, and I've always liked the way your character can have a small army of on-screen Pokemon tagging along at their heels. Watching a Steelix tower above your group as you clear boulders out of a mountain path would be a neat little visual touch, but alas, the main games adhere to the same over-world layout that they've had for over 10 years.
But as interesting as it looks and as fun as these features are, Pokemon Ranger has never really gotten the narrative or overall gameplay aspects quite right. None of the games have anything tying them to the main series -- no cameos from gym leaders, no storylines in the outskirts of Kanto -- and the characters don't have much personality. On the gameplay side, Pokemon that you capture only stay with your team long enough to use their specific field move, meaning that each puzzle boils down to locating a certain monster to cut, soak, or burn a specific object. It's even worse in dungeons, where you'll occasionally have to backtrack long distances to find a Fire-Type that can burn some random obstacle blocking your path. It's always been mildly tedious at best, and Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs suffers from these issues as much as Shadows of Almia (the last game in the series) did.
Guardian Signs' story revolves around the Oblivia region, a chain of islands inhabited by Pokemon and the local human populace, and home to a series of ancient ruins where Legendary beasts like to frolic. As you start the game, the region is under attack by the Pokemon Pinchers -- a group of "evil" Pokemon poachers who want to use Oblivia's Pokemon for criminal means. Possibly the only unique aspect of the story here is the inclusion of time travel, which is used to set up a series of plot twists at the end of the game. As it turns out, the Pokemon Pinchers are being controlled by another group that has origins in the ancient past, the leaders of which want to gain eternal youth. Or something.
Apparently, catching a Pokemon with anything other than a Poke Ball brands you a felon in the Pokemon universe. While Shadows of Almia's Team Dim Sun (groan) captured Pokemon by shady hypnosis, the Pokemon Pinchers in Guardian Signs simply use a variation on the Rangers' Pokemon Styler device, so I initially couldn't fathom why these guys where the bad guys. While the stakes ramp up later on in the game, the obvious fridge logic at work here makes the narrative seem incredibly silly. At least Team Rocket established their evilness by outright stealing other people's Pokemon and taking over entire cities.
Even if you ignore the forgettable story, the gameplay still doesn't hold up through the hours and hours of grade school-level puzzle solving. It's really a shame, too -- Pokemon Ranger would be much better with just a few tweaks. Capturing Pokemon is still pretty fun, though -- especially in the boss battles. Instead of Poke Balls, Pokemon Ranger use "Capture Stylers" that can tame wild Pokemon with feelings of "friendship" and "peace." As you trace loops around feisty Pokemon on the DS touch screen, they'll attack you and attempt to break your chain. Take enough damage this way and it's "Game Over," but you can use Poke Assists to even the odds. There's even some strategy involved here, as certain type advantages and Styler upgrades can be used to wear down your target with great ease. Without a doubt, Capture Battles are still the best part of the game, and the tougher the Pokemon get, the more fun things are.
Still, the dungeons and maps leave much to be desired. Being able to retain your Pokemon even after they've used their type-specific field moves would be a blessing, but the game still strips you of your teammates the instant they perform their token ability. It's even worse now that some field moves require you to hunt down two or three Pokemon, which means even more backtracking for just the right one. At the very least, Guardian Signs is better about this than previous games, since the proper Pokemon for the job is usually no more than two or three screens away, but it's still pretty annoying.
Still, multiplayer missions provide a nice diversion when you're tired of the single player story mode. Not only can you play with up to four other people, but the game even lets you play with three computer-controlled bots. Additionally, Guardian Signs makes use of downloadable missions for extra content, which is especially important for gaining access to rare Pokemon like Deoxys and Manaphy. Being able to port these highly treasured creatures over to Diamond/Pearl or HeartGold/SoulSilver is a tantalising carrot on a stick, and to be honest, it's the only reason I'm still trudging through the game.
If you've played a Pokemon Ranger adventure before, just be aware that Guardian Signs isn't much of a departure from the last two titles in the series. It's obviously not for my demographic, but I can't imagine the repetitive puzzle solving and uninteresting story will be of much interest to anyone but the youngest DS owner. At its core, purchasing this game boils down to one question: just how badly do you think you want those Legendary Pokemon?
Join the PC World newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Acer Swift 7
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop review
Latest News Articles
- Star Citizen dumps DirectX 12 plans to focus on Vulkan-powered graphics
- Dungeons and Dragons ditches pen and paper with D&D Beyond
- Exclusive no more: PlayStation 4 games are coming to the PC via PlayStation Now
- Adding video apps like Netflix to the Nintendo Switch is a waste of Nintendo's energy
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTDirector, Centre for Cyber Security SolutionsVIC
- CCLightweight Directory Access Procol (LDAP) DeveloperNSW
- CCProject MangerWA
- FTNetwork Services ManagerQLD
- FTPolicy & Programme OfficerACT
- FTNBN Sales Consultant / Account ManagersSA
- CCApplication Architect - CloudVIC
- FTLevel 3 Systems EngineerNSW
- FTProject ManagerACT
- CCUnix/Linux Systems AdministratorNSW
- CCTechnical Business Analyst (Security) - Finance - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTProject Manager- SAP FICO implementationNSW
- FTSenior Web DeveloperVIC
- FTSales Operations ManagerNSW
- CCDevelopment Lead - Java - TelcoVIC
- FTSCOM Monitoring and Alerting SpecialistNSW
- TPProject SchedulerVIC
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- CCNetwork Engineer (cisco)NSW
- FTSalesforce Marketing Cloud ConsultantVIC
- CCLead SAP SRM DeveloperACT
- FTSAP Data Migration LeadNSW
- FTMid Level PHP DeveloperNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistACT