Wii

North America

My Pokémon Ranch

by Mike Gamin - August 12, 2008, 4:58 pm PDT
Total comments: 6

6

Do you need a tool to help you catch 'em all?

Pokémon Ranch took a lot of flack when it was announced, and then even more when it was released. As one of the few first party WiiWare titles, many were left wishing for a real game from Nintendo. Pokémon Ranch is not a game by any means. If you aren't still playing Pokémon Diamond/Pearl and trying to collect and train various monsters, do not buy this game.

For the sake of argument, let's pretend for a second that someone did buy Pokémon Ranch as a standalone title. Well, every day Hayley (the head rancher) would bring a random Pokémon to the ranch. You would then select five Miis from your Wii system and watch them interact with the monsters. What you'd have on your hands is an interesting screensaver that cost you some precious Wii points. Doesn't sound like fun does it?

Now that that is past us, what will the hardcore Pokémon fans get out of the game? There are actually several useful features. First, as Pokémon are added to the ranch, Hayley will occasionally offer to trade one of hers for one of yours. Most of these trades are for otherwise easily obtainable Pokémon, but they will often know certain moves that would require extensive breeding and planning for a player to teach them. Their levels are usually relatively high, making them instantly usable in battle. On top of those, the ultimate trade comes in the form of the event-only Pokémon, Mew. You'll have to work for this one though, as it requires the depositing of 999 Pokémon in the ranch.

Hayley, the head rancher, is also incredibly useful when it comes to trying to complete your Diamond or Pearl Pokédex. At any given point she will post three different Pokémon she is currently looking for on the ranch bulletin board, along with instructions on where to find them in the DS games. These requested Pokémon are always ones that the player has not yet caught, so working towards a complete Pokédex is only as hard as doing what you are told. These Pokémon also act as the ones that Hayley will be willing to trade hers for, so completing the requests is important if you hope to trade at all.

The other main feature of the game is storage and organization. Strangely, at first glance the organizational features appear to be extremely lacking. You put your Pokémon in the ranch, and you’re then able to sort them alphabetically. In fact, that is all you can do when only firing up the WiiWare application. The extensive organization options don't become apparent until you connect a DS unit and then select the withdraw option. While withdrawing Pokémon, every monster in the ranch lines up. You can then use the DS screen to sort them. As soon as you change one of the many options they will quickly run around re-sorting themselves. This makes it easy to look at your Pokémon by level, strength, hit points, mark, etc.

Pokémon fanatics should find all of the above features extremely useful. The sorting options make it easy to pick a Pokémon that will fill a particular role in a party. Hayley's requests make it much easier to work towards catching them all, without having to rely on constant Pokédex opening and paper checklists. The trades and potential Mew are just added bonuses. As a tool for Pokémon purists, Pokémon Ranch does actually hit the mark quite well.

Visually the game takes on a style reminiscent of basic N64-era 3D. It's hard to say whether this truly was a conscious art style decision or if the designers were forced into using fewer polygons to get the game under the WiiWare size limits. Regardless, I was surprised to find myself liking the style. It was easy to immediately wish for Battle Revolution-caliber graphics, but several of the Pokémon are actually quite charming in this primitive style. Don't get me wrong, some (like Pikachu) just look disturbing, but several others (like Dragonite, Porygon, and Bulbasaur) look great. It's hard not to enjoy watching your Mii sit on the ground as Charizard flies overhead. These moments can be easily captured using the built in screenshot option. All screens can then be saved out to an SD card, and they are actually in .jpg format, so no weird conversion programs are needed (like with Super Smash Bros. Brawl). Check the game profile to see around 40 shots directly from my ranch.

It isn't hard to decide whether or not Pokémon Ranch is a game for you. I've checked on my little guys almost daily since the game came out and I still enjoy it. That said, I think it's pretty clear just how much of a fan I am of the franchise. Only fellow Pokémon fanatics will get a similar level of enjoyment.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 3 6 4 8 6
Graphics
6

There is a little bit of charm there, but Pokémon models are extremely primitive. While you may still crack a smile here and there, the ranch would be absolutely amazing if it featured more modern models.

Sound
3

Music and sound effects are EXTREMELY generic.

Control
6

In a game in which the whole point is to observe your Pokémon, camera controls can be frustrating at times. The nunchuk attachment is required for general control.

Gameplay
4

There really isn't any actual gameplay, but it can be entertaining to watch the ranch for a while, waiting for the best moment to snap a screenshot.

Lastability
8

As a tool for players still playing Diamond or Pearl, Pokémon Ranch will keep you coming back. Every time a requested Pokémon is found you'll want to jump on, deposit it, and see if Hayley will offer you a trade. Then you'll get another task and head right back to the DS game.

Final
6

While obviously not for most people, Pokémon Ranch does do a great job at delivering on what it promises. If you are looking for some help storing and organizing your Pokémon and wouldn't mind some trading and Pokédex help thrown in, this title is for you.

Summary

Pros
  • Great organization options
  • Mew is obtainable
  • Pokédex completion help
Cons
  • All but requires the DS games
  • Getting Mew is a pain
  • Low polygon count is sometimes ugly
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Well, since catching them ALL in Pearl, I am official burned out on Pokemon. On the other hand, subsequent Pokemon games, which will no doubt feature connectivity with current versions, will be less of a hassle. The Ranch sounds nice, but only for people who still need that one stinkin' Tauros or similar hard-to-find pocket monster.

If I were a competing Pokefanatic, the Ranch might also be useful for the exclusive trades, what with the great movesets 'n' all. But as it stands, I think I'll ignore Pokemon Ranch. You never told me how much it costs, by the way. $10, I assume.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterAugust 13, 2008

I honestly would have put the $10 price tag as a con. As neat as this tool is it is too expensive and should have been free, at 500 points or included in one of the main games.

But other than that, I agree with this review. People have bashed this game to hell and back, but this is essentially a Pokemon tool for hardcore fans only. Its enjoyable and fun for what it is.

BTW Pale, I visited your ranch a while back. I ENVY your collection of legendary Pokemon. I think I took a couple of pictures of them.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorAugust 13, 2008

How the heck did you visit my Ranch????

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterAugust 13, 2008

Quote from: Pale

How the heck did you visit my Ranch????

Well one day your Mii randomly appeared on my ranch and asked me if I wanted to visit your ranch. I said yes and I was able to view your Pokemon collection.

The game has a feature that lets the people on your friends list visit your ranch if they have the game.

Its apparently very random, though, as you just appeared out of nowhere, and from the looks of your post you had nothing to do with it.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorAugust 13, 2008

Bizarre.  The only visitors I've ever gotten are the creepy built in miis in the look see club thing.

ReverendNoahWhateleyAugust 28, 2008

The game's odd style does in fact enhance some Pokemon.  Meditite's cuteness, for example, is compounded a thousand times over once he gets the Ranch treatment.  And some of the models are so bad they're actually funny, ala Machoke's appearance as The Blue Dorito.

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Genre Simulation
Developer Ambrella
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: My Pokémon Ranch
Release Jun 09, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Minna no Pokemon Bokujou
Release Mar 25, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: My Pokémon Ranch
Release Jul 04, 2008
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+

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