Find out exactly what a Trozei is and what makes this puzzle game worthy of its exclamation point.
Pokémon Trozei borrows from earlier puzzle games such as Yoshi’s Cookie, Zoo Keeper, and Wario’s Woods, as well as including elements of the Pokémon universe. The word “Trozei" is probably inspired by the term “Tetris." In both cases, the word was made up, and both specify the goal of the game, clearing out parts of the playing field. The game’s release comes at a time when it could easily be overshadowed by the much better known puzzle game, Tetris DS. However, Pokémon Trozei is a different animal altogether and shouldn’t be dismissed.
Not only does the game deviate from the standard Pokémon RPG formula, it also includes an entirely new cast of characters. As the story goes, the Phobos Battalion is an evil organization that has recently been stealing Poké Balls. Since the sheer number of stolen Poké Balls would make it impossible for secret agent Lucy Fleetfoot to carry them all, she has the Trozei Beamer, a device that transports Pokémon to safety by satellite if they are aligned in a straight line row.
The game field is made up of two connected five-by-five grids, one on each screen. Pokémon fall from the top of the top screen to land on the stack, beginning at the bottom of the bottom screen. The game makes excellent use of the touch screen. Fans of Zoo Keeper are likely to find the interface somewhat familiar. The stylus is dragged from a piece in the direction of desired shifting. Similar to Yoshi’s Cookie, entire rows can be shifted left, right, or down, with the pieces wrapping from one edge of the screen to the other. Pokémon drop in a manner more like Wario’s Woods or Meteos. Additionally, shifting pieces down brings them to the top of the screen to fall down again, instead of appearing immediately on the other side of the stack. Due to this notion of gravity, pieces can only be shifted up by one block, and they will only stay shifted long enough to complete a match, after which pieces will fall back down again.
Tying gameplay to the storyline, the bottom screen is the scanner region of the Trozei Beamer. A Trozei is completed when four Pokémon of the same kind are aligned in a horizontal or vertical line on the bottom screen. Upon matching, the Pokémon disappear and any Pokémon that were above them fall into the newly vacated area. Once a Trozei has been completed, the player has a “Trozei chance." This means that only three Pokémon in a row are required to obtain a Trozei. Matching three will continue the Trozei Chance, after which only two Pokémon in a row are required to form a Trozei. After each Trozei, players have one to two seconds to form more Trozeis, or the Trozei Chance will end. Players can shift Pokémon in and out of Trozeis, and the game will specify which are ready to be cleared.
Normally, Pokémon of the same kind are required to complete a Trozei; however, Ditto acts as a wildcard Pokémon and can form a Trozei with any Pokémon. Ditto will fall into the playing field anytime a larger than required Trozei is made. This means matching five Pokémon instead of four to start, four or more for three, and three or more for two. Ditto becomes absolutely essential in capturing all of the rare Pokémon, since not enough of these Pokémon appear in the playing field to obtain a Trozei by themselves. Sometimes only a single rare Pokémon will appear in the playing field during an entire game. In addition, rare Pokémon automatically disappear from the playing field at varying speeds, some almost immediately after falling into the field. However, these Pokémon will remain in the field as long as a Trozei Chance is active.
Each level has a specified number of Pokémon to clear. Once this threshold is reached, players will have a final Trozei Chance. If the player can manage to clear most of the Pokémon from the field, a bonus will be added to the score. Fans of Tetris Attack/Panel de Pon/Puzzle League may appreciate the way that combos are formed after the collapse of cleared Pokémon. However, the game’s pace is much faster than that type of game, particularly at higher levels. Thus, making combos and clearing the screen is easier and generally requires much less planning.
The game boasts two single player modes (Adventure and Endless) and two wireless multiplayer modes (Battle and Pair). Endless mode provides an endless set of levels, each of which has its own Pokémon to be cleared. In Adventure mode, players work through the story of the game, collecting Pokémon from storage facilities as well as battling the six generals of the Phobos Battalion. Interspersed within Adventure mode are several practice levels, which are small puzzles that test whether you can completely clear the field of Pokémon. At higher levels, the number of cleared Pokémon required to complete the level increases, as well as the number of types of Pokémon per level. Some levels are also more difficult than others due to the sets of Pokémon that are used. Pokémon with similar colorings can make it more difficult to distinguish between them. Completion of Adventure mode leads to the unlocking of slightly different game modes.
During battles, gameplay changes slightly. Generals may use a “Jammer Flash," which turns all Pokémon into silhouettes for a short time. This effect can be counteracted with a Trozei. Generals may also use Jammer Balls, placing them in the field from the top or side, or by swapping a Pokémon for it. Jammer Balls can only be removed by lining them up with a Ditto. Trozeis stun the generals for a short time, during which they will not attack. One of the more frustrating things done by generals is increasing the Remaining Pokémon meter when nearing completion of the level, thus extending the game.
A serious attempt was made at multiplayer mode. In Trozei Battle, players play the game normally, and completing Trozeis sends Pokémon from one player’s set to the other player. Whoever’s screen fills up with Pokémon first loses. Completing battles allows players to increase their “Agent Rank." In Pair Trozei, players again play the game normally, but play together to reach a high score. Completing Trozeis on one DS reduces the number of types of Pokémon on the other DS, thus making the game easier. Some rare Pokémon are found only in multiplayer mode, making play essential for 100% completion.
Pokémon Trozei also supports download play. Friends without the game, but with a DS can download Pokémon Trozei Mini, a demo version of the game that includes multiplayer capabilities. An improved transmission system over previous DS games allows simultaneous distribution of Pokémon Trozei Mini to several DSes. The game will also notify you if it finds other DSes in Pictochat mode, and will allow you to reboot into Pictochat so that you can tell friends to enter download mode in order to send them the game.
Not much about the game has a real Pokémon feel, as even the art and music are quite different from the standard Pokémon fare. However, thanks to the Pokédex, one of the core aspects of Pokémon, “gotta catch ‘em all," is still present and provides some replay incentive. For puzzle game fans, Pokémon Trozei is a great addition to the genre. Pokémon Trozei should be available from DS download kiosks, so I would highly recommend that you try it out.