Pokemon Trading Card Game was a spinoff to the Pokemon series based on the popular card game. It was developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Color. It was released in late 1998 in Japan and 2000 in North America and PAL territories.
The story for Pokemon TCG is much the same as the story from the original Pokemon game: a young man sets out to be the very best. The difference is that in this game, the young protagonist (Mark) sets out to be the best at the trading card game and to collect every single card.
Graphically, Pokemon TCG wasn't terribly innovative. You have to keep in mind, though, that it was made for the Game Boy Color, a system not exactly known for its amazing graphics.
|Yeah, that's seriously what the DBZ game for GBC looked like. *shudder*|
90% of the game will have you in battle, anyways. There are points where you walk around inside of gyms. Those graphics look identical (almost) to Pokemon Silver/Gold. The battle graphics are very basic, showing just the playing field in a very static way. All you see is how many prizes are left, pictures of the two Pokemon fighting as well as damage counters, how many Pokemon are on the bench, and how many energy cards a Pokemon has on it. To actually check the benched Pokemon, you need to go into a menu. There are no super fancy animations; all of the attack animations are very bare (again, like the early Pokemon games).
The main point, though, is that the graphics don't deter from gameplay. Sure, there's not a lot of bells and whistles, but the card game wasn't about bells and whistles. It was about fun, pure and simple.
The gameplay is, to put it simply, the card game in electronic form. For any of you who ever used to actually battle with the cards, this game does a great job of recreating it. It includes all the cards in the first few sets (Base, Jungle, and Fossil if I'm not too much mistaken). The mechanics work exactly as they would in a real card duel, only a tiny bit more lengthy due to the time taken messing around in menus.
You start the game with a very basic deck. You can battle a guy at the start as many times as you'd like to get packs of nothing but energy cards. Once you're ready to go, you head out to the main map and start going to gyms in any order you like to try to beat the leaders in a card battle.
|This is the map. Walking from one gym to another literally takes about 3 seconds.|
For every real trainer you defeat, you get between 1 and 3 packs of cards you can use to build a better deck. The cards in the pack usually reflect the theme of the gym (Fire Gym trainers give you mostly fire cards, Water Gym trainers give you mostly water cards, etc.). Once all the leaders have been beaten and their medals have been gained, you get to take a shot at fighting the Grandmasters, similar to the Elite Four in the original Pokemon games.
There are also special tournaments that take place from time to time in the Challenge Hall. You face a series of 3 battles, and if you win, you get a special promo card. Some of these are actually kind of useful, but most are just silly.
What would a Pokemon game be without a rival? In this game, your rival is Ronald, a douche-baggy blue-haired kid who insists that he's better than you under any circumstance, even when you hand his ass to him.
|You know what? Fuck you, Ronald. There, I said it.|
The absolute weirdest part is this dude named Imakuni?. He's a Japanese costumed character created for the Pokemon series. He shows up randomly in gyms hiding off in a corner. Throughout the game, you get to fight him a few times. He plays mostly cards that end up confusing his own Pokemon, and he even has his own card. Sadly, it does almost nothing, and when it does, it confuses your own Pokemon! He's a complete nutbar, and fighting him is always comical.
|Japanese people are weird...|
The game, overall, is very easy to learn. It's also usually pretty easy to win once you have a good deck put together. When you lose, there are no penalties of any kind, so even if you REALLY aren't very good, you can still do pretty well in this game. Here's a video demonstrating a single duel as it appears in game.
The soundtrack in this game, in my opinion, fits very well with the overall mood. I'm a bit biased, though, since this game makes me nostalgia all over the place (it's messy, trust me). The music in particular really makes me remember what a fun game this was. Rather than describing it any more, I'll post some songs and let you decide how good they are. Here's the normal duel theme; this is one you'll be hearing very often.
This one's the main map theme and the music in Professor Mason's Lab, your main hub.
This one is the Grandmaster's Theme.
Keep in mind, most of these sound much better on the Game Boy's speakers.
Replay Value: 4/10
The main draw for replaying through this game is collecting all of the cards. Chances are, though, by the time you beat the Grandmasters, as long as you duel every trainer on the way, you should have almost all of them. There are 226 cards in all, if I remember correctly. 2 of the cards, however, can only be gained by using the Card Pop system which requires another Game Boy and another copy of the game. You can only Card Pop with someone one time, so to get these cards, you'll likely need either a lot of friends who own this game or a GameShark.
Other than card collecting, though, there's really no reason to replay this game besides the sheer fun factor.
Long story short, this is a Game Boy Color game that plays exactly like the actual trading card game mixed in with Pokemon Red/Blue. It's totally fun, and a great way to kill 10-15 hours. It's also got a bitchin' soundtrack.