Gotta catch them all! That is the motto of the original Pokemon series when it was released for western audiences many years ago and until today, it still rings true. Hundreds of invariably cute little Pokemon species are out there and waiting for you to catch them. And this time, you get to do it in a td game! Pokemon Tower Defense Generations is an all new game from long time fans of the series (and also very talented developers), Sam and Dan. These are the guys behind the highly successful Pokemon Tower Defense which was released a couple of years back. Their latest work, Generations, is more than just a sequel. It is a re-imagining of the game as it integrates more of the feel of the original Pokemon games.
Gold, Silver, and Everything Precious
Generations is focused on the storyline of Pokemon Silver and Gold (or for those of you more familiar with the re-releases, Heart Gold and Soul Silver). You will have one of the three starter Pokemon, some guidance from Professor Oak, a Pokedex, and a few words of encouragement from your in-game mother to start off your adventure. So far, it all makes for the start of a typical Pokemon adventure right?
Yes, that is exactly what this is; a true Pokemon game. PTD Generations takes a whole new approach to the game by actually changing what people have been originally used to. Gone is the mission based gameplay of the original. Instead, players must now navigate this brand new world (well, not too brand new, this is basically Johto and Kanto from the Gold and Silver games), manually. You will be walking across cities and fields, interacting with NPCs, and chasing after random spawns. If you were partial to the navigation of the first PTD, prepare for a massive culture shock with this one.
The change is a double edged sword. On one part, it certainly brings out that true Pokemon feel by simulating the exact same experience you would have if you were playing the original games. On the other hand, the explorations and NPC interactions are not the main feature of the Pokemon games –it is the capturing of rare Pokemon; and you can do that without most of the RPG elements in play.
As fans of the original, we were initially disappointed with the change. After all, PTD gave players a very specific formula and most of us were really hoping for more of the same. Having instant missions meant that you did not have to go through the long map explorations and NPC dialogues that were present in the original game. While their inclusion to Generations has made PTD closer to the RPG genre, it also deviates from the streamlined pick-up and play scheme associated with most browser games. If we wanted an authentic Pokemon experience, there are the releases for the NDS to be played –PTD originally filled that special quick-play niche that the original games could not satisfy. Still, the important part is that the disappointment was just an initial reaction.
Going For Something New
Pokemon Tower Defense Generations feels a lot like the real Pokemon games, and for the very same reasons that many players have come to love Pokemon, they will also come to love and appreciate PTD Gens. The first PTD game was a fun homage, built and designed by hardcore fans of the game and its genre –along with all the pop culture references that came along with it. It managed to grow and cultivate a community of players who appreciate the simplistic approach that made it a success. This new game however, goes far beyond that.
This new game is an RPG title from beginning to end, with exploration, plenty of dialogue and even a sensible menu system to help you manage your party of Pokemon. Simply put, Generations is a whole new game, and there is plenty to love. The combat system of the original game is still in place: you have Pokemon that you position in various areas in the map. From there they will launch attacks at incoming enemy Pokemon. The goal varies from map to map –some will require you to simply wipe out all the enemies, others will require that your Pokemon survive the encounter, some will force your Pokemon to fight in one on one matches. The variety will keep you on your toes and helps prevent the game from being too repetitive (though in all honesty, even the first PTD did not feel repetitive).
Getting Up to Date
As we said, this new one is based on Gold and Silver, so aside from the new gameplay mechanics, the graphics have also been greatly improved. Players now get to enjoy full 32-bit sprite animations (as per the NDS versions of the two games) and much like the real games, players also get to create their own character. Joey, the hero from the first PTD, still appears in this new game, but players now take on the role of their own character. This is a welcome change of pace, and the fact that you get to choose your gender and name makes the experience all the more personal.
Another great detail of the game is the fact that your Pokemon will follow you around on the world map. Again, this is another detail that has been taken from the game and it is one we truly love to see. Watching your favorite Pokemon going around town with you is not only cute, it also makes the game a lot more immersive.
Naturally, this new PTD game plays host to a variety of all new Pokemon, most notably all the ones from the Gold and Silver, all the previous Pokemon released in the first PTD game, and also, a few exceptionally cool cameos from future generations. The best part is that the line-up is constantly being updated. The devs at SND are occasionally releasing new Pokemon that can be acquired by figuring out secret codes. So players are encouraged to spend a bit of time visiting the developer website for updates on these promotions.
Graphics and Sounds
Aesthetically, PTD Generations get a huge default bonus for being based off an existing game. And we mean that literally. The backgrounds, sprites, music -everything you see and hear are pretty much taken right out of the original NDS games. This makes the visual accuracy of this homage title to a stunning one hundred percent, with a few fun extras. Generations’ storyline is lifted off the original games, but it also has its own twists and turns –after all, there are plenty of original characters inserted into the game and of course, plenty of new events to witness. The animations of these events have been created from scratch yet stay well within the visual composition of the game. As funny and as surreal as the events are, they unfold and flow smoothly with the game. The music is also straight from the games, but with a few well thought of adjustments. The result is a finely tuned flash game that has the all the trimming and polish of a boxed physical retail release title.
Of course, there is more to the game than just recycled graphics from the original Pokemon titles. PTD Generations which can be found at www.pokemontowerdefense.net also has its own user interface – one that is used prominently in the battle sequences. The grids, menus and buttons have all been downsized and streamlined from the original game. This means less clutter and sleeker visuals. The menus for target priority settings, home screen, and several other areas of the game take their visual cues from the first PTD.
Should You Give It a Go?
It is not surprising that Generations is a massive improvement over the first game. While we would have been happy with a part 2 (having more missions, more Pokemon), we got more than just a sequel, we got a totally brand new game. Of course, many of the elements that made the first one great are still present (the online trading community, access to the SND-made Pokemon Center, the silly humor, the future generation cameos, etc.), and it was topped off with all new visuals, an amazing RPG delivery, and of course, tons of new Pokemon to catch. Pokemon Tower Defense Generations is certainly one of the best flash games that was ever made, and more than anything else, it makes us wonder what kinds of amazing games SND would create if they decided to go with an all original creation.