6 Fights, One Goal
In the mini-game mode, the game will tell you right from the start that your actual progress through the fights is not recorded. Instead, the game will remember how far you have gotten and how many Pokemon you have unlocked.
Basically, this starts out with Joey - the hero of the first PTD game, heading to see Professor Oak about improving his skills. Oak then sends Joey into the virtual world of PokeMatrix where he must fight in virtual battles starting with a starting lineup of really weak Pokemon. Once the game commences, you take control of Joey.
You start out with 10 coins and two available Pokemon for purchasing –once you have bought one, you will then be able to proceed with the first match. Win this and additional Pokemon will be unlocked from the shop.
If you are beaten by the computer (and you should expect this to happen several times over), you will have to start from the beginning –the only advantage you have will be the fact that you will have more Pokemon to purchase. This means any Pokemon previously unlocked in earlier playthroughs of the mini-game will be available right from the start. The strategy is to purchase the most powerful (or most element-efficient) Pokemon you can get and bring those to the matches (as opposed to sticking with the initial ones that are available by default).
Aside from progressing through stages, another way of unlocking Pokemon is having some of them evolve –which is not as easy as it sounds. This often requires purchasing a weak Pokemon to fight the early battles, purchasing tougher ones to fight the later matches then doing a last minute swap in a battle so that the weak Pokemon will be able to gain experience points from enemies that it normally would not be able to beat.
Things to Expect
As impressive as all that may seem (and it is, we found ourselves playing the mini-game several times over just to see the most efficient way to progress through the game), there is no denying that there is going to be a vast difference between what we can play now and what will become available later on. The good thing about having something small to play, even just a little, is that it gives players a pretty good glimpse of what is to come. So the question is, just how much will be added later on?
Judging from the introductory sequence alone, it is easy to see that Pokemon Tower Defense 2 will be based heavily on Heartgold and Soulsilver. This comes from the fact that the starting Pokemon shown in the dream sequence of the PTD teaser to be the ones that match of HG and SS. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that the Pokemon available will be limited to those in HG/SS. As proven in the original PTD game, nothing prevents the devs from adding Pokemon from later (or previous) generations of the game.
The opening cinematic shows a quick glimpse of what might be Reshiram, the legendary white dragon from Pokemon White and Pokemon Black. And if that one is present, then it is also possible that its’ counterpart, the black dragon Zekrom, will also be available. In any case, this would not be so surprising as legendary and unique type Pokemon such as Celebi and Victini have already been included in the first PTD release.
While the pixel style sprite artwork remains, it has been improved significantly in terms of details –the graphics look plenty much like 32-bit than the older 16-bit look. This will be appreciated by many of fans since Heartgold and Soulsilver also sport improved graphics compared to older releases.
The animation has also been upgraded in a very significant manner –the Pokemon now have slight variations in attack animations and more importantly, the effects that appear are more move specific (as opposed to the re-used attack special effects in the old game).
The most noticeable change of all is the revamping of the user interface. While some of the graphics still remain –such as when you select Pokemon for a party of 6, as well as the main menu looking much like the original, the actually combat screen is now completely different. The speed and sound controls have been redesigned as small triggers on top of the screen and the Pokemon icons on the bottom now have bars for HP, experience points, and three toggles for selecting attacks. To drag a Pokemon to a combat square, you must click on the health bar or icon area instead of pressing the attack toggles (which will change which attack the Pokemon makes).
It Starts with a Dream
While it has yet to be confirmed that the start sequence at the very beginning is truly the start of the game (with the new protagonist imagining meeting the three new starters and having a quick match with clones of the three), it is easy to see that PTD will be a completely new game compared to the first.
That is, PTD 2 is not a continuation of Joey’s adventures. That being said, it is unlikely that players will be able to instantly port over Pokemon from their previous PTD game. Though the fact remains that players will be able to retain their usernames and passwords from the original title so carrying over content is still a possibility - so far, the devs have yet to clarify if that will be true. In any case, most fans of the original can only wait and hope.
Anyway, along with a new hero also comes a new town and definitely new faces to interact with. We are expecting that this new game will still retain much of the silly humor and pop-culture references that were present in the original. While the demo was hardly full of laughs, we have faith that the developers have not lost their sense of humor. Also, this is a homage game, if the story was delivered too seriously, it would make the game a pale comparison with the original Pokemon games for Nintendo consoles.
A Visit to the Past
While improved graphics and better gameplay seem to be the running theme of the day, it also serves to point out that one of the stages in the one-on-one mini game pits you against none other, than Red. For those who are not familiar with the actual Pokemon games, Red is the default character for the very first Pokemon game. Basically, this guy is the template for Ash Ketchum (or Satoshi for the Japanese-name purist fans). He has all three of the original starters (Charizard, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle) and of course, his main pet is Pikachu. What makes this encounter really interesting is the fact that when you encounter Red, the graphics will revert from the brand new 32-bit style, into a really retro-styled 8-bit black and white visual –exactly how it looked like in the original Gameboy release of the game. Aside from being a really fun easter egg for fans, it shows that the devs of PTD 2 are going for more than just a simple game; they are going to give us all a massive gaming experience designed for the fans, by even more hardcore fans.
More to Come
To provide a verdict and score on a teaser is a little too presumptuous, but we have to admit that playing this for a while has left us hungry and waiting for more all-new PTD action. While the final build of the original is out and is easily accessible to play at any time, it is easy to see that the second release has even more content in store for everyone. We can certainly expect integration to the trading boards and the Team Rocket casino once the game is fully up and running –and of course, the inclusion of micro-transactions. But all those are side dishes compared to the main game that will be launched. The guys behind SND have yet to provide a set time and day for the final release, but whenever that happens, we will be among the first to play it.