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Page 1:
Pokémon Mini
Pokémon Mini Party Mini
Pokémon Pinball Mini

Page 2:
Pokémon Puzzle Collection
Pokémon Zany Cards
Pokémon Tetris

Page 3:
Pokémon Puzzle Collection Vol. 2
Pokémon Race Mini
Pichu Bros. mini

Page 4:
Togepi's Great Adventure
Pokémon Breeder Mini
Legacy

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Pokémon Puzzle Collection (ポケモンパズルコレクション) - Pokémon Mini (2001)

European Pokémon Mini Cover

Another Mini Game collection, this time containing a series of logic based puzzles. There are four games to choose from, Motion Puzzle, Shadow Puzzle, Rescue Mission, and Power On. For each game there are 20 puzzle to solve with the difficulty scaling from extremely easy to surprisingly tough. Each puzzle you complete will net you a Pokémon and there is a Pokédex which keeps track of the monsters you've caught (though only 80 out of 250 are available.)

In Motion Puzzle you must swap fragments of an image around in order to reveal a picture or a Pokémon. The twist is that the image is constantly moving through a looped animation so keeping track of what goes where can be very confusing. Some pieces will remain blank for 90% of the animation while others may only contain a few pixels of the image. To muddle things still further, later puzzles introduce multiple Pokémon and you are forced to parse the trajectory of two or three identical moving objects. It's a very original premiss and keeping track of the visual chaos provides a very different challenge to the cold hard logic of the other games on offer.

Shadow Puzzle is a more standard affair, it's a variation on the age old Tangram puzzle that often crops up in Point and Click adventure games. You are given a set of abstract shapes which need to be fitted together to form a silhouette, these pieces must fill in all area of the grid without overlapping. Each piece can be rotated so the number of possible combinations is too large for a brute force trial and error approach to be effective, consequently it's much more difficult than the three other games. Completing each puzzle will reveal a Pokémon hiding behind the silhouette.

Rescue Mission is a good old fashioned sliding block puzzle where you must guide a Pokemon to the exit while shifting blocks out of thier way. It's very similar to the board game Rush Hour. Though stages are only one screen in size they will still put your spatial reasoning skills to the test and a few of the later stages are real brain breakers.

Once you complete 30 puzzles you will unlock the fourth game, Power On. It is a version of the classic 15 Puzzle where you must shuffle pieces of wiring around in order to create an unbroken connection from one side of the board to the other. It's significantly easier than a standard 15 puzzle as you don't need to utilise every piece, just enough to create two paths across the board. This means there are several possible solutions instead on just one. Connecting the wires allows Pikachu to send a current to a nearby light bulb, lighting up the room and revealing a Pokémon hiding in the shadows.

Though the games here are hardly revolutionary it's a diverting enough package for logic puzzle fans. Shadow Puzzle and Rescue Mission in particular provide a decent challenge and are rewarding to complete. In all four games it's impossible to create an un-winnable scenario as any move can be undone. Puzzles can also be suspended by putting the system to sleep, so you can easily pick up where you left off if the solution proves temporarily illusive. Admittedly the value and novelty of the game has been somewhat diminished in the years since it's release thanks to the proliferation of cheap logic puzzle games available for smart devices.

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  • Jupiter

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Pokémon Zany Cards / Pokémon Anime Card Daisakusen (ポケモンアニメカード大作戦) - Pokémon Mini (2001)

European Pokémon Mini Cover

One of the Pokémon Mini's most striking features is its capacity for wireless connectivity. Of the few games that utilise this feature, Pokémon Zany Cards is the most heavily geared towards multiplayer. There are a variety of single player options as well but mostly these involve playing against a CPU opponent. While you might assume that Zany Cards is connected with the popular trading card game, it is actually a set of more traditional card games given a Pokémon theme; Wild Match, Special Seven, Card Duel and Four Kings.

In Wild Match the object of the game is to score points by playing matching pairs or completing sets. Cards are laid out on the table and each player is dealt a hand of five, the cards in their hand must then be matched against those on the table. The amount of points scored depends on the size of the play so completing a three card run will earn more points then matching a pair of 10s (or Pikachus.) You can also earn bonus points by completing multiple sets, playing both pairs of tens for example. When every player has used up the five cards in their hand the game is over, and the player with the most points wins. The cards are naturally Pokémon themed so sets consist of monsters from the same evolutionary chain, or monsters that are thematically connected in some way. Whenever you complete a set, a short animation will play. Match a pair of Pikachu's followed by a pair of Lugias and you'll see an animation of Pikachu riding on Lugia's back. It's a nice touch, and the animations don't play during your opponents turn so they never become too repetitive. They can also be partially skipped which is welcome.

In Special Seven the object of the game is to get rid of all your cards as quickly as possible. A single card is placed in the centre of the table and players must put down a card of the same suit or type. If you are unable to go then you must pick up a card from the deck. To spice things up there are seven 'event' cards which have various effects such as skipping an opponents turn or forcing them to pick up extra cards. Each time an event card is played there is an accompanying animation, unfortunately unlike the animations in Wild Match these interludes cannot be skipped and they become pretty irritating after a while.

Both Wild Match and Special Seven have a single player tournament mode where you face off against characters from the Pokémon anime. These characters are portrayed well considering the console's limitations. They spout suitably ridiculous dialogue during battle, taunting you when they make a good move and complaining when things don't go their way. Character portraits at the top of the screen also change depending on how the match is going, looking triumphant one moment and morose the next. Playing against a CPU opponent can be a bit of a dry experience but here the charming characters make things much more engaging. Plus, the silly dialogue is never intrusive or long winded.

Tournaments are only five games long, with no option to alter the difficulty or number of players. If you are defeated by one of your opponents than you can challenge them to a rematch as many time as you like, continues are infinite. Since there's no penalty for losing, and you can suspend the game at any time, the experience will be short lived and there's not much reason to replay. Another problem with the tournament mode is the dubious AI. Wild Match and Special Seven are both games that rely heavily on luck and as you progress it becomes apparent that your opponents aren't getting smarter, they're simply being dealt better hands!

The third game, Card Duel, is multiplayer only. Two players are dealt the same hand of ten cards (ace to 9 and a joker.) Each round a card is drawn from the deck and placed on the table, both players pick a card from their hand simultaneously and the card with the highest value wins the round. The card on the table is then added to the winning players prize pile. Higher value prize cards are worth more points so the skill of the game is in balancing the value of the cards in your hand against the value of the cards on the table, and trying to second guess your opponent. Also, a Joker can be trumped by an Ace so even the highest card is not unbeatable. The game ends when all ten cards have been played and the player with the most points wins. It's a shame there's no single player mode but the psychological nature of the game would probably make programming a convincing AI quite difficult.

The last game, Four Kings, is a variation on Solitaire. You must complete four sets of cards which increment at different rates. The first pile runs Ace-2-3-4, the second pile Ace-3-5-7, the third pile Ace-4-7-10 and so on. A guide above the table reminds you which card is next in each set so it doesn't get too confusing. Unusually the deck is not shuffled at random and instead there is an adjustable difficulty setting which dictates roughly what order the cards will fall in. This make Four Kings more strategic than the other single player games and the harder settings are pretty tough to conquer.

As a single player experience Pokémon Zany Cards is somewhat lacklustre overall. It was clearly designed with multiplayer in mind and it's a shame so few people will have been able to experience it this way.

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  • Denyusha Co

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Pokémon Tetris / Pokémon Shock Tetris (ポケモンショックテトリス) - Pokémon Mini (2002)

American Pokémon Mini Cover

Tetris needs no introduction, it is one of the most successful and recognisable games of all time. The concept of a Tetris/Pokémon crossover is so obvious it's a wonder Nintendo didn't think of it sooner, still more baffling is why they haven't done anything with the idea since! The obsessive monster collecting of Pokémon, combined with the hypnotic brick sorting of Tetris makes for a terrifyingly addictive experience.

For the uninitiated, Tetris is a puzzle game where sets of four blocks (or Tetrominoes) fall from above and you must organise them so that they create an unbroken line from one side of the playing field to the other. When a line is completed those blocks will disappear and if you manage to clear four lines at once you will earn a massive score bonus, this is know as a Tetris. The games ends when you stack the pieces too high and hit the top of the board.

Tetris has been ported to nearly every machine under the sun but there are several additions here that make this version unique and well worth checking out. The most ingenious addition is the Pokémon catching mechanic. During play a silhouette of a Pokémon will appear in the bottom corner of the screen and you must score a Tetris (four line combo) in order to capture it. After a little while the silhouette will change, with some rare monsters only appearing for a split second. It doesn't sound like much but the task of filling your Pokédex is a surprisingly compelling one and with a whopping 250 monsters to collect it will take quite some time. It's a great incentive to keep playing, particularly for more casual players who don't want to commit the time necessary for a high score attempt.

The game also makes interesting use of the console's motion sensors and you can invert a Tetromino by giving it a good shake. For this reason the game is known as Pokémon Shock Tetris in Japan. It certainly makes for a more manic experience, particularly when the game is running at full tilt and you're nearing the top of the table. It can be a little unresponsive at times, to the point where the games manual advises you to tap the back of the system instead if you're having trouble. This method is much more reliable (though not quite as much fun.)

As well as a standard endless mode there are two alternative game mode to choose from. 20 Lines is fairly self explanatory, clear 20 lines as fast as possible. There's no need to attempt a four line combo here as you are graded on your time not your score. Pyramid is another time attack challenge but this time you must clear a single line, a double line, a triple line, and a Tetris in order to win. These alternative challenges are a fun diversion once in a while but they don't have the lasting appeal of the main endless mode. They also don't mesh well with the Pokémon catching mechanic as attempting a Tetris can actually be counter productive. Often you will have to chose between catching a Pokémon and going for a high score which can be frustrating. It's also worth noting that certain monsters are more common in these modes so you're encourage to play them in order to "catch 'em all".

Another interesting twist is the edition of five block pieces or Pentominoes. They are much more difficult to stack than Tetrominoes and sometimes when you are given one it is impossible not to leave a gap. Thankfully there are a variety of difficulty settings which change the frequency that these pieces appear, on the lowest difficulty they are entirely absent. Hardcore player will relish the challenge but everyone else will probably want to steer clear.

To round off an already generous package there is a multiplayer mode where you can compete against a friend. You can also send each other high scores which will be saved in the somewhat ambitiously named World Rankings.

Unusually, the game was released in Europe but not America. By the time the western release came around Nintendo had all but given up on the Pokémon Mini and consequently it was manufactured in ludicrously low numbers. The games arrival in Europe went largely unreported and very few retailers stocked it. It's a real shame as Pokémon Tetris is not only one of the console's best games but a fantastic version of Tetris in it's own right.

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<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Pokémon Mini
Pokémon Mini Party Mini
Pokémon Pinball Mini

Page 2:
Pokémon Puzzle Collection
Pokémon Zany Cards
Pokémon Tetris

Page 3:
Pokémon Puzzle Collection Vol. 2
Pokémon Race Mini
Pichu Bros. mini

Page 4:
Togepi's Great Adventure
Pokémon Breeder Mini
Legacy

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