Pokemon Trading Card Game
- Platforms: Game Boy Color, 3DS Virtual Console
- Suggested Platform: 3DS Virtual Console
- Developer: Hudson Soft
- Genre: Card Game
- Release Date: 4/10/00 (NA)
- Why Play It?: Good fun, plenty to collect and do, and a rocking sound track.
- Why Skip It?: If you’re not a Pokemon fan, get frustrated at random occurrences, (coin flip or the way your deck got shuffled) or just don’t like card game video games. Also, it’s fairly short, unfortunately.
I remember when I was child, my stepfather at the time (who was not a great man) took me out to the store and told me I could have any Game Boy Game I wanted. Shocked by the sudden kindness in his heart (or so I thought), I grabbed the newest Pokemon game, this one. I later learned that he only got me a new game to keep my quiet about the new hunting rifle he bought directly after, but as a kid, I didn’t even notice because I was building decks and dueling with virtual Pokemon cards. I remember it even came with a limited edition Meowth card, one that you could only get in the game itself. It was holographic and the game was so good, I couldn’t even tell you what happened the rest of the day. At any rate, with Pokemon GO reigniting my love for Pokemon, I downloaded this bad boy from the 3DS Virtual Console. Having not played it in a good number of years, I was excited to get back into it. And I remembered (almost) instantly how great the game is. I beat it in a single day, about 8 or so hours.
The Pokemon Trading Card Game game (let’s just call it the Pokemon TCG game) is essentially the actual TCG, but on a Game Boy. They tried to capture both the feel of the actual card game, as well as the feel of the Pokemon Game Boy games. I feel as though they did a fantastic job of channeling both of those things. The flow of the game is pretty simple and reminiscent of the other Pokemon games: go to each of the 8 clubs, which are sorted by the type the players within will use, defeat the leaders, and obtain their medals. When all 8 medals are obtained, the player can then face this game’s version of the Elite Four, each holding one of the legendary cards. If you can successfully complete the final battles, you will obtain all four of the legendary cards, which were designed to be only in the Game Boy game, as they each have a bit of a random aspect to them. Unlike the other Pokemon Game Boy games, you can tackle each club in any order, enabling you to build any deck you like and pick your target, often going for their weakness. If you build a good enough deck, however, you might not even need to build multiple decks!
The game opens up with you heading to the Mason Laboratory to get a fairly lengthy tutorial that is annoying if you just want to play, as you must follow every step EXACTLY as it is spelled out for you. That said, if you’re unfamiliar with the rules of the Pokemon TCG, it will get you firmly antiquated with the flow of the game. Obviously (hopefully) the game is turn based, and you must take turns powering up your Pokemon with energy cards (1 per turn, mind you), eventually evolving them and fighting your opponent. Once you knock out enough of your opponent’s Pokemon (or deck your opponent), you win and are usually rewarded with two booster packs, giving you more cards so you can start building your own deck. When you start out, you can pick a deck revolving around either Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur and their evolutions, but as you start picking up more cards, you can start replacing some cards and make an entirely different deck if you so choose, which is great if your favorite Pokemon isn’t one of the three starters, as you can build a deck around them instead, or around a specific Pokemon TCG playstyle. There are over 200 cards for you to collect, and practically infinite combinations you can use for your 60 card deck. Collecting them all doesn’t have the same sense of accomplishment as building a strong deck does, but that’s just me, I think. It felt really great when I beat the Grand Masters with my Fox God deck that revolves around my favorite, Ninetales.
Matches can end up lasting pretty long, depending on how each player’s cards come up, even an upwards to a half hour. While you’re battling, there had better be some good music playing. And my goodness, is there ever. This game has some of the best battle music in a Game Boy game, bar none. I personally feel as though it even beats the original Pokemon Game Boy games in terms of soundtrack. Go look up the normal duel music. I’m actually listening to it right now as I write this. It’s fantastic. And although there are only 4 different duel tracks, they never get old.
The only real complaint I have with the game is that sometimes “randomness” can screw you. All of a sudden, your opponent is winning every coin flip, your deck isn’t giving you any of the cards you need, the opponent is ruining every chance of your victory, and it just feels like the game is against you. And maybe that’s a problem with the Pokemon TCG in general: the randomness of coin flips can really screw you sometimes. Ultimately though, it’s a pretty minor complaint. Lastly, the game is fairly short, but on the plus side, you can duel every single character as many times as you like, meaning you can just build a new deck if you’re getting sick of your main deck.
The duels are fun, the music is rocking, and it’s great for people who want to play a TCG and don’t have any friends to do so with. That said, if you do have friends with the game, you can certainly duel and trade cards in game, which is great. If you like Pokemon, good game music, or trading card games, I implore you, check out the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It’s fantastic.