My Pokémon Ranch
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Wii Points: 1000 (GBP 7.00 / EUR 10.00 approx)
"LUMINEON is enjoying riding on STARAPTOR!"
Intrigued? Curious? Maybe even a little excited? If this sort of scintillating input-free feedback is all you require from your gaming then I heartily recommend you shell out the outrageous 1000-Point asking price for My Pokémon Ranch, a download that is really little more than a screensaver for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl owners.
While the title and screenshots deliberately evoke comparisons to Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing or MySims, what you actually get is closer to the Mii Channel. A channel, you'll recall, that didn't cost you a penny. So there's this ranch, run by an irritating whimsical maiden called Hayley. You fill it up with Pokémon that you've unlocked on your DS and she occasionally helps out by giving you toys or ranch upgrades. Transfer a thousand Pokémon betwixt Wii and DS and she'll give you access to Mew, that rarest of Pokémon, to take back to the real game.
This transaction seems to be the driving force behind this highly cynical offering - charge Pokémon addicts an extortionate amount for the dubious privilege of grinding their way to something desirable. Everything else in the game is there simply to give the impression that you've actually paid for something of value while you slog your way towards that goal.
Look closely and you'll realise that there's almost no actual interaction to speak of - you simply load it up and watch your Mii characters mingle with Pokémon characters. You can take pictures of them. Or wiggle the remote and make everyone bounce up and down. Such larks! Occasionally they'll all get together and do something to get your attention. The only amusement I found was watching Staraptor dropping my Miis from great heights.
Even though the game has its own short day-and-night cycle, progress towards unlocking any of the feeble bonus upgrades is dictated by the Wii's real-time clock. Hayley only dishes out the goodies every 24 hours, and seeing as these goodies include such basic features as being able to control the camera, it renders an already-thin experience all but translucent for those without the patience to literally wait for days and days.
If you don't have Pokémon Diamond or Pearl then, needless to say, this game is a complete waste of your time. Hayley gives you six Pokémon to start with, and adds another every 24 hours, but at this rate it takes an unholy amount of time for anything to happen. If you do have a thriving Pokémon collection ready to port over, the game is still almost entirely pointless since all they do is piss about in a field while you watch. In the long term it may help you fill the last few gaps in your collection, as eventually you can trade with Hayley, but it's still a long-winded and horrifically expensive way of doing so.