Review: Pokemon Dream Radar
Title: Pokémon Dream Radar
Platform: 3DS eShop
Developer: Creatures Inc
Tagline: Catch Pokémon in your living room, using 3DS’ cameras
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Gotta Be A Fan
Nintendo is inching Pokémon forward at a Magcargo’s pace, layering in plenty of mini-games and side-quests into each new installment, rather than really attacking the game’s core. The add-ons are always unexpected (make a movie! do dress up! harvest berries!), and each game always seems just a little better than the one before, but it’s frustrating to see the franchise evolving so slowly. The latest duo – Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 – continues the trend with a new side-game you didn’t expect, Pokémon Dream Radar: a separately downloadable, purchasable eShop app that interacts with Black 2 / White 2.
Pokémon Dream Radar turns your surroundings into a 360-degree augmented reality Pokémon hunt. The basic concept is that you use your 3DS to scan the room around you, capturing Pokémon by shooting at them. (Hey, it’s not any more violent than the dog-fighting they’re used to.) The Pokémon scientist walking you through Dream Radar will make upgrades available to enhance your radar/beam’s functionality as you continue to play. When you capture a critter or find an item, it goes into a holding area for transport into your copy of Black 2 or White 2.
Which all sounds exceptionally awesome, like you’ll see a Pikachu hopping around on your couch and ZAP you’ll catch ‘im. But that’s not how it works. Instead you’re shooting at clouds, which explode into orbs. And, no doubt bowing to concerns raised about previous 360-degree AR shooting games, it’s not even throwing a 3-D image of your room filled with pink clouds. About one cloud in ten reveals a mega-orb, which is where Pokémon and items can be found. Naturally, you have to shoot down the orb by ramming the A button as quickly as possible while keeping the 3DS focused on the moving ball. It’s just not fun. It’s tedious and ugly when it should be surprising and cute.
To make the process even more annoying, Dream Radar has a play timer on it. Once you shoot down your allotment of clouds, you have to wait a couple of minutes for the cloud stock to refill. You can spend Play Coins to instantly maximize the clouds again, but the game allows that only a few times per day. The come-back-later approach might make more sense if the visuals were more suitably Poké-mazing. As is, you need some time for the hidden Pokémon to creep back out from under your couch. But when all you see is clouds and orbs, it’s just another log for the disappointment fire.
However, as the official screenshot shows, there are a few select situations where you actually see animated Pokémon dive-bombing your furniture. After you’ve given the game some time, your anime scientist host will announce she has special radar equipment designed to flush out one of three ultra-rare beasts. There’s no point saving this for a spoiler: the three Pokémon are the Therian Formes of Tornadus, Landorus and Thundurus. Previously, these three rare gems physically resembled Japanese weather gods, but the Therian Formes give each a more bestial appearance.
Giant Bird Tornadus arrived in my Black 2 at level 20. The transfer process is simple. As long as Black 2 or White 2 is loaded, Dream Radar will send the data over, and the prizes will appear directly in your PC Box or item inventory.
Don’t get too excited about the potential for mining Pokémon, as Dream Radar only makes a pathetic handful of Pokémon available to catch (although Nintendo could certainly issue updates to make additional breeds show up.) Sure, that Tornadus is great, but I had to burn through four Riolus and half a dozen Leppa Berries to get to it.
Naturally, Pokémon Dream Radar is the only way to see the Therian Formes of these brutes, and £2.69 in the eShop ($2.99) isn’t going to break anybody’s bank if you absolutely need an easy, grind-y way to secure rare Pokémon. If you plug one of the other DS Pokémon games in, Dream Radar will “see” it and give you a chance to catch one of the rarer legendaries associated with each cart (like Lugia from Pokémon SoulSilver). That is a nice plus, but, again, the shooting gallery cloud stuff just isn’t fun.
You have to be a fan to want Pokémon Dream Radar. And more than that, you have to be a fan that owns Pokemon Black 2 or Pokemon White 2. Which is fine, we Pokémon die-hards live for the thrill of collecting rare monsters, and of course we own the latest release. It just stinks that Dream Radar could not deliver a more compelling experience that integrates Pokémon into our world.
- Only source for several rare Pokémon types
- Easy transfer to Black 2 / White 2
- Downloadable app means it’s always available for a quick hunt
- You’re shooting clouds, not catching Pokémon
- Shooting gallery gameplay is not fun
- Not a lot of Pokémon to catch in the first place!
Kids will dig bouncing the 3DS around to catch Pokémon, but the time-limited gameplay will frustrate them. Plus they may wonder what’s up with this cloud business. There is no questionable content because there’s very little content to begin with. Keep your room clean, though.