What's most galling is that an Animal Crossing style game with Pokmon - one where you actually did something - could be quite wonderful, and certainly more interesting and rewarding for fans. Had this been offered as a free (or at least dirt-cheap) bonus download for Pokmon DS owners, the sweet graphics and empty-headed concept might have been charming. At the same price point charged for the sublime LostWinds it's a brazen insult, and marks a new low in the exploitation of the Pokmon brand.
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Wii Points: 700 (GBP 5.50 / EUR 7.00 approx)
Perhaps it's deliberate that Pop, the game in which you infamously pop bubbles and little else, has been released alongside the infuriating non-game that is My Pokmon Ranch. In such company, this rather slender shooting gallery starts to look like a game with depth to rival even the mightiest RPG.
So, yeah, you pop bubbles with the remote. Hit them and you score points. Miss them and you lose time. Run out of time and it's game over. There's slightly more to it than that, of course. There are different icons in some of the bubbles - score multipliers, smart bombs, things that seem to make your target area larger - and you can grab, drag and inflate bubbles with a prod and a waggle. The ensuing burst will take out any bubbles of the same colour, so it's handy for building up those high scoring chains.
For the most part, though, it's a score-based game of keepy-uppy. Keep popping, avoid missing, see how many chains you can rack up. Up to four players can drop in or out at any time, and it's certainly the sort of instinctively appealing pastime that will play well with the wider gaming audience.
What doesn't appeal quite so much is the rather poor technical finish. Developer Nnooo has already issued advice on its website for people whose game locks up as it tries to access the Wi-Fi leaderboards and, after a few hours of problem-free play, I found that the game sent my remote all scatty. I replaced the batteries, tried it with other games - no problem. Load up Pop and the pointer judders, flickers and even vanishes like a boozy phantom. Rendering the game pretty much unplayable, all I can do is delete it, re-download and start over.
There's also the issue of price. Get past the "popping bubbles?" incredulity and the game does offer a decent amount of depth and no-frills gameplay, but I can't quite bring myself to see it as 700 Points' worth of fun. Not when I look at some of the games available on the VC for less than that, and certainly not when I look at what other console download services have offered for the equivalent amount or less. A cute game, a fun game, but not a particularly well-priced or thoroughly bug-tested game.