Man. Judging from the reaction to my Huge-Freaking-Shaymin
Award-winning coverage of the Game Boy Color version of the Pokémon Trading Card game,
you folks were kinda hungry for a proper follow-up. Well, here’s… this thing. It’s an online
client for the Pokémon TCG that actually runs on cards obtained in real-life booster
packs. Me, would you demonstrate by opening a pack? Thank you. Oooh, Dragons Exalted.
Nice. Anyway, included in each pack since the dawn of the Black and White era is a code
card, with a QR graphic as well as an alphanumeric code. By redeeming these via the TCGO program…
well, the QR thing used to work, but has yet to be implemented in this build… by redeeming
these codes, you obtain virtual booster packs for use in the online game. So while the program
is free, you’re kinda using real money. Kinda. And, of course, all the cards you actually
want in real-space – like this Dark Trance Hydreigon – you’ll get online. Oh well.
Still pulled a foil Milotic; that’s nothing to sneeze at. Still, there’s gaming to be
done! The UI for the game will look fairly familiar,
but unlike the Game Boy version, there’s actually room for everything at a glance.
Everything’s available with just a few points and clicks, while tooltips usually do a good
job of summing a Pokémon’s remaining HP and summarizing its attacks and powers and
whatnot, though you might have to get the cursor in just the right spot. The sound effects
can be a little off at points, especially for multi-flip attacks, and the music – when
it exists – is easy to ignore. After all, you’re going to be too busy concentrating
on your strategy, right? You’ve spent countless… erm. Minutes… customizing your deck; least
you can do is play it correctly. As would be expected, you’ve got a limitless supply
of basic energy, though that won’t stop you from pulling more basic energy from packs,
if it happens to be in the mix for that expansion. If you’re not feeling up to playing against
actual people in the head-to-head mode, there’s an AI opponent for you to battle, as well
as a “Trainer Challenge” campaign mode what you can play with pre-constructed decks
or starter theme decks you can just buy off the rack. Yes, those have codes in ‘em too,
and all 60 cards in such a pack will be added to your online collection. This interpretation
is still far from perfect: there are several bugs in both the UI (like audio hiccups and
large chunks of lag when a game ends) as well as the procedural game mechanic stuff (how
the cards interact with one another). But they’re working on it, and it’s a nice
little bonus if you’ve already bought the cards and need a quick game to take the edge
off of 2AM on a Tuesday morning. But most importantly, they DID fix Victory Star. My
Fliptini rises again!