Pokemon Dream Radar Review
Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
It’s easy to be cynical about downloadable content, especially as it seems almost every game these days comes with some form of pre-order benefit, store exclusive content or just simply locking features on the disc you’ve already bought until the publisher decides they want to sell you the unlock code. So far Nintendo has refrained from any of these kinds of incentives for either buying the game early or paying to unlock certain features at a later date, most likely thanks to their primitive online infrastructure when compared to their competitors. Rather than buying downloadable content for the recent Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 players can purchase Pokemon Dream Radar, a standalone augmented reality application for the Nintendo 3DS that allows players to track down rare and unique Pokemon and transfer them over to a copy of the main game.
There is a loose story that attempts to justify this being a stand-alone title as you help Professor Burnet locate rare Pokemon that only exist in a zone between dreams and reality. At the start of the game Burnet pops up to explain what he’s attempting to accomplish and then leaves you to it once he’s explained the main control mechanics.
The game plays almost identically to Face Raiders as you physically move the 3DS around to aim at the various clouds that appear which can be shot at with a tap of the A button. Upon finding and shooting a Pokemon you must then continue hammering away on the A button to fill up the capture gauge, which is very uncomfortable on the portable system and really doesn’t add anything to the game. Once a Pokemon is captured there is then the ability to transfer the critter over to a cartridge copy of Pokemon Black 2 or White 2 through a very simple process. Beyond capturing all of the Pokemon and helpful items there isn't really any reward to continue playing Pokemon Dream Radar on its own.
While Pokemon are quite uncommon to come across initially, it’s possible to collect Dream Orbs that appear when a cloud is destroyed and can then be spent upgrading the Dream Radar’s capabilities. As a measure to prevent players from getting the rare Pokemon too fast there is a real time delay where clouds need to regenerate although there is the option to use Play Coins to speed up that process.
As withFace Raiders the game never looks that great thanks to the Nintendo 3DS’s low resolution camera. The Pokemon themselves when they do appear are simple in appearance and aren’t particularly expressive in their animation. The music and sounds are also fairly minimal. Overall the presentation is about on a par with the various AR games that are preloaded onto the 3DS system only with a Pokemon twist.
Pokemon Dream Radar is essentially a pointless purchase if you don’t own a copy of Pokemon Black/White 2. As a method of relatively easily obtaining rarer Pokemon without grinding through the main game it is perhaps essential with the exclusive monsters but beyond that primary function there’s no real reason to continue playing the game. The lack of any real replay value for some may be offset for the relatively low price in comparison to other eShop titles. Had Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 been a flagship 3DS title it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine this game being replaced with future downloadable content as Nintendo have begun to offer fan servicing extra characters with the currently Japan-only Fire Emblem: Awakening. All this game adds is some tedious grinding in order to get the Legendary Pokemon after you’ve already parted with your cash in order to access them. I’m not sure that many would upgrade their DS to Nintendo’s new 3D model just to access this minigame and obtain some unique monsters, as after all what makes Pokemon successful is the players’ drive to catch ‘em all.