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The Princess Report ♡ Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia

Discussion in 'Other Pokémon Games' started by ShireHime, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. ShireHime

    (Meowstic ♀)
    Level 54
    May 16, 2016
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Love Ball ★★★★★Comet Shard ★★★★Tapunium Z ★★★★★Crown of Valor
    Good day to all the Valorians out there! I’m Hime, and welcome to my very own series, The Princess Report. Anyway, this series aims to review anything; from anime to serious cartoons and games, of course. But today, your only Hime is here today to bring you a game review. And what game is it, you may ask? The game that I will be reviewing today is Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.

    Yes, I can hear the voices in your head saying "What about Pokémon Ranger? Shouldn’t you have started on that first?" Well, my first Ranger game and my favorite out of all the Ranger games is Shadows of Almia. I played Pokémon Ranger and Guardian Signs, but their stories and their characters never really appealed to me that much. I might make a review about those two, but I don’t have the cartridges for them anymore, so I guess I’ll just have to watch YouTubers play them.
    I have been a Pokémon fan ever since the release of the fourth generation, and I knew I had to try this game when it got released. Sure, DS games are a thing of the past, but not all of them. Some games are actually worth playing in the DS, just like the Pokémon Ranger series, because it gives us a breath of fresh air, a story different from the main series games, yet captures our interest, just like a main series game. I’ve played this game repeatedly, still not getting bored of the characters and the story itself. But anyway, enough of my blabbering; let’s get reviewing!



    Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is the second installment to the Pokémon Ranger series, successor of Pokémon Ranger and the predecessor to Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs. Shadows of Almia is a game where you are dropped off in a region where Pokémon Trainers do not exist or are on the other side of the world, because you are a Pokémon Ranger in this game! Your duty is to help people and Pokémon in any way you can, defending the region of Almia from enemies that wish to destroy peace and bring forth chaos.

    As a Ranger, you do not use PokéBalls to capture Pokémon, as you use a Capture Styler instead, a cellular-like device that is used by most Rangers in this game. With the Capture Styler, you can capture Pokémon to help you out during missions, using their abilities outside of battle known as Target Clear and using their abilities during battles, known as Poké Assists. However, like the main series games, you, as a Ranger, need to defeat a villainous team that threatens to destroy peace in all of Almia. Of course, as a 10-year-old kid, this is no problem! You only need to defeat millions of Boss Pokémon, and you’ll be fine! It's no problem, as light always triumphs over the darkness. Or probably because you are an amazing gamer who rules the game so much that you are a savage to all those who challenge you. The game also showcases new features that did not appear in its predecessor, Pokémon Ranger, and are improved even further on its successor, Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs. I will be evaluating this game in terms of Plot, Characters, Features and Music.



    So, you think that the story drops you off as a Ranger, fighting evil organizations and saving the world. Well, that was what happened in Pokémon Ranger, but Shadows of Almia starts quite differently than its other incarnations. At the beginning of the game, instead of starting as a fully-fledged Ranger, you start at the Ranger School, where you will learn most of your Ranger skills. This mainly surprised me as this was probably the first time where the player character had to go to school to study. The player gains friends as he/she attends school, like Rhythmi and Keith. After graduating from the school, you are sent to a Ranger Base where you work together with other Rangers to complete missions. Completing a bunch of missions allows the player to progress through the story, meeting old friends while also meeting former friends along the way. Your one-and-only team villain here is Team Dim Sun, who have nefarious plans to the peaceful region of Almia. Before the player leaves Vientown for the Ranger Union, the player is given a significant amount of missions that allows the player to work with their co-Rangers at the Ranger base. This includes fighting a forest fire, getting a key under the ocean and investigating Team Dim Sun’s movements. Once you have become an experienced Ranger, you are sent to the Union, where you are given more difficult missions, new friends and allies and a more diverse story. Speaking of a more diverse story, the game is also given its own lore, a lore named The King of Almia and the Three Princes. It mostly explains the King’s wishes for peace and prosperity in Almia, which are changed by his sons, forcing him to banish them. The story is explained even further in the game, and I think I’ve already spoiled quite enough, whoops. The missions are expanded to become even more challenging at this point, fighting even more Boss Pokémon, encountering more villains, exploring the numerous places like a castle, a volcanic cave, and a desert. The game ends in a positive note and is quite lighthearted, and I believe that it was the proper way to end the story.

    As expected from a Pokémon game, the flow of the story always puts you on the center of the action. However, there is one slight problem with that; being the main focus of the game means that other characters will not have enough time for their past to be explored. A good example here are the pasts of Rhythmi and Keith. The game does not have enough time to add a deviation from the main story that explores their past on how they got at the Rangers School and other important details like if they have any siblings at all. I’ll admit, the story can be quite confusing, annoying and hanging at times, but the story of Shadows of Almia is something that can be considered a breath of fresh air as its predecessor, Pokémon Ranger, had a different approach than Shadows of Almia.


    Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia introduces many new characters that have not appeared in the original Pokémon Ranger. Characters include your arrogant classmate, Keith, and your cheerful friend, Rhythmi, your teacher, Ms. April, and Principal Lamont. Your co-Rangers at the Ranger Base, namely Barlow, Crawford, and Luana are also given the spotlight for a few missions, as well as some minor characters like Big Bertha and Little Tim, whom I found very interesting, especially their family. Villains include your number one President, as well as an already known character that I will not be mentioning to avoid any spoilers. There are a few characters from its predecessor that make appearances in the game, most notably Professor Hastings and Murph.

    Even though most of the minor characters do not really contribute greatly to the story, the game still gives them life by allowing the player to do certain tasks for these characters. These are called quests, which allow the player to power up their Capture Styler, giving the player a good reason to help out people, which is something that should be automatic because the player is a Ranger after all. A great example of a minor character that is given a quest is Little Tim, whom I mentioned earlier. He wants you to help him out in calming down his Miltank who has been very agitated all day. This quest does not contribute to the main story, however, so don't worry about getting spoiled on that.

    It is also worth mentioning that a few number of characters in the game receive a decent amount of character development, but it does not really change their original personality as it only adds a few minor additions to them, which is quite acceptable since it does not take months before you get deployed to the Ranger Base in Vientown after graduating. While playing games, all of us usually start having biases in terms of characters that soon develop into favorite characters. My favorite character in this game is Keith, his arrogance sometimes makes me feel like I’m really his rival, which can be quite true as he is a good Ranger. He can be a goofball at times, but he can be serious during missions if it is needed.


    The game mostly retains all of the features from its predecessor, Pokémon Ranger, refining a few number of features that came from its predecessor, like the loop bar appearing instead of making the player loop the Capture Styler around the Pokémon for a number of times before it is considered captured. They also added a few new features, like selectable partner Pokémon, rideable Pokémon, which are improved in Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, the introduction of quests, which are mini-missions that can help the player power up their Capture Styler, and a Capture Arena which is introduced once the player finishes the game. My favorite feature is probably the introduction to quests, as the ability to interact with the people of Almia helped the game seem more vibrant and alive. Overall, Shadows of Almia had a lack of new features that greatly affected how it was viewed by many people. It also had a lack of replay value, thanks to the shortage of features. The Capture Arena being introduced at the end of the main storyline didn’t even catch my interest, puns intended on this one, as it only served to see how much you’ve become accustomed to capturing Pokémon.


    The music of Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is truly incredible. Even the Normal Capture theme sounds catchy, no pun intended, and most of the themes used in the game really fits the mood that they are used in. The Team Dim Sun themes, especially the Admin Capture Theme, sound sinister, yet it still retains the vibe that it is still a capture, not a near to death experience. The background music at Vientown sounds very serene, fitting the town’s calm and peaceful nature. The bridge of the Mission Complete theme allows the player to release the tension received from the mission, allowing them to relax and be happy that they successfully finished the mission. Overall, I’d say that the music of Shadows of Almia was brilliantly executed, especially the capture themes. You expect a serene music to play at Vientown? Well, that’s what you’re going to get. You’re on a countdown before a ship sinks? You’ll get a more pressuring music. The staff of Shadows of Almia really knew what they were supposed to do with the music in this game. I sometimes even find myself humming in real life to the Vientown theme because of how catchy it sounds.

    Final Thoughts:

    Overall, Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has a very interesting story, including a lore that is essential before the story ends, characters that are given exposure, even if it is quite a little, and an amazing soundtrack, which is expected from a Pokémon game. For me, I believe that Shadows of Almia’s strongest point is the plot. The story is very diverse, allowing the player to go on a mission with Rangers that have different personalities and a different view of the world. A few characters like Barlow, Crawford, and Luana were given the spotlight when the player was tasked to go on a mission with them. Little by little, more characters were introduced like Wendy and Sven, who are Top Rangers that the player meets on the Ranger Union. A few characters made their returns like Professor Hastings and Murph. Principal Lamont was given a more detailed past later in the game, as well as giving some forgettable characters some love. The story did not seem rushed at all, as everything was laid down accordingly. There were a few plot holes, but they were far too minor to be even mentioned or remembered.

    If there's a strong point, then it's only natural to have a weak point. I believe that the weakest point of this game is the shortage of new features. Again, it only introduced a few number features that did not directly affect the main storyline. I feel like quests could’ve gone even further, as well as some rideable Pokémon. I’m not saying that the new added features were horrible, but I feel they could’ve been better if they were expanded even further. Adding new features is something important to help differentiate the game from other games, especially if its greatest enemy is its incarnations. Another slight nitpick was the lack of any improvements in terms of graphics. I've watched a few YouTube walkthroughs of Pokémon Ranger, and when I saw the graphics, it looked pretty much identical to Shadows of Almia. Even though it doesn't really hurt Shadow of Almia's main focus at all, as I've said earlier, adding something new to the table is very important to differentiate the game from others, especially if its greatest enemy is its own incarnations. They could've at least refined the sprites a bit to make things seem a bit more polished and look more professional.

    All seriousness aside, my opinions on this game are on a high note. I’ve played this game over and over multiple times, still amazed by the characters and their personalities, as well as some quests that proved to be fun, which probably shouldn’t have been due to their name. However, there were quite a few times where I found myself pretty angry over the Boss Pokémon for being too difficult to capture, times where I got impatient because I can’t find the key and times where I almost threw my DS before getting a Game Over. But, that’s probably because you’ve grown quite addicted to the game that you get emotionally attached to it as well.


    That’s it for today’s Princess Report, thank you so much for reading up to this point! I had a lot of fun in doing a review of this game. If you’ve already played the game, I’d love to hear your opinions as well, and if you were given the chance, would you play this game or nah? Thanks again for reading, fellow Valorians!
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