Pokémon Ranger Guardian Signs

Misreading the Signs and going round in circles...

The Pokémon series for softies is back. Over 300 different Pokémon are up for grabs, although not to capture but to 'befriend'.


As players of the previous two games will know, Pokémon Ranger differs a lot from the likes of HeartGold and SoulSilver as it has little of their strategic, hit points packed battling of endless randomly generating Pokémon.

Instead, it favours simpler, gentler gameplay that involves drawing endless touchscreen circles around Pokémon to convey your good intentions and friendship to the critter in question. Someone pass the sick bucket.

Strategy isn't tossed totally out of the window though. Far from it. You're still trying to collect as many Pokémon as possible, and these captured... sorry, befriended Pokémon can be called upon to help you calm down other potential recruits as well as solve the puzzles in each game chapter.

The usual rules apply - water types are strong against fire and so on - as do the usual risks. If your Pokémon is hit by an attack, for instance, then it will run away and be useless.

If anyone can do presentation and plot well it's Nintendo, and Guardian Signs nails the feeling that you're on an exciting adventure from the off. In reality though, it's a much less challenging one than fans of traditional Pokémon games will be used to.

That, of course, could be a positive for those who value a more structured game with a plot and simpler battles over Pokémon's usual more free-roaming, stat-building approach.

It's just a shame Guardian Signs didn't build on those circle-drawing battles a little more because their repetition will drive many to frustration.

Order Games Master magazine here and have it

The verdict

It's got the plot of Pokemon, but the battle system needs bolstering to achieve greatness

Nintendo DS