Pokémon Battle Trozei is a Match 3 Puzzle game where you can catch all 718 monsters, that's right guys and gals, we have another Dex to fill this year! (That's until the inevitable release of Pokémon Z)
Editor's Note: Apart from Bejeweled & Dr. Mario, I've never been a huge fan of Match 3 puzzle games, now it's not that I don't like them, but more like neither my phone nor my computer are the best at handling games, YAY for old technology!
Unlike the aforementioned Bejeweled, and of course Candy Crush Saga, Pokémon Battle Trozei (or Pokémon Link Battle in the UK) does not cater to the casual market who love to play a couple of rounds and then demand more chances through annoying Facebook notifications, this twist on Pokémon appeals to a very niche market, fans of the franchise who also love puzzle games; so the question is: Does Pokémon Battle Trozei reinvent the wheel to make it a worthy contender? Or does it flail like a Magikarp?
Solid gameplay mechanics
When you first boot up the single player mode you'll encounter a series of tutorials explaining the gameplay mechanics, for the ones who don't know how a Match 3 Puzzle game works, you need to line up three identical tiles be it vertically or in a horizontal manner, once you do it those tiles will disappear and rank up some points, now in Pokémon Battle Trozei, it's not the points that matter but the attack of the Pokémon, you see as soon as you make up for first match you have a couple of seconds to start a combo, and the higher the combo the strongest the attack, but bear in mind this game includes the basic mechanics of the franchise.
The game is divided in two screens, on the upper screen you have the wild Pokémon you have to catch, in this case we have a Pikachu, as we all know Pikachu is an electric type Pokémon, so for the ones who don't know, Electric type Pokémon are weak against Ground type attacks, in layman terms, you want to attack that Pikachu with a ground type Pokémon to deal as much damage as possible. Notice there's a sky blue/bright cerulean line bordering the field area, this line serves as the wall that separates the Pokémon in your "party" from the wild one you're trying to catch, this wall can be broken after continuous attacks from the wild monster, and once the wall is broken the wild Pokémon will fall on the bottom screen and block a section of the Trozei Box, making your task much more difficult.
On the bottom screen is your Trozei Box and here's where you'll keep your eyes 95% of the time. On each side of the box you have your health bar, this bar will diminish with each attack of the wild Pokémon, it is also in this area is where you will match the Pokémon in your party to attack the one in the upper screen and catch it, you can trigger a Trozei Chance once you start a sequence while matching four tiles and continuing it with a combo, while this mechanic is triggered you'll be able to clear faster your Trozei Box and consequently making your attacks much stronger.
Once you progress in the quest you'll be able to recruit support Pokémon for your Trozei Box, these support Pokémon are the ones you've caught previously and now are available to aid you, each creature has a type, and attack strength, and some even have special abilities, this will play a bigger role as you progress through the lengthy adventure to try and catch 'em all.
Being Able to catch all 718 Pokémon.
This is what keeps the blood pumping in Pokémon Battle Trozei, the game is divided into areas, each area contains up to six stages, four regular ones and two hidden stages... on each stage you have a set number of Pokémon you can catch, but also there are Pokémon that will only appear until certain conditions are met, like for example catching three Pidgeys will prompt a Pidgeotto to attack, making the task of filling your Pokémon list much more interesting.
Each stage feels different, all of them build up to a boss battle, sometimes you'll face a colossal Legendary who occupies most of the space in upper screen, or in some cases the Legendary trios from the different regions of the franchise, these will attack you from different sides of the box prompting you to attack using the scatter mode, AKA linking up five tiles.
The Art Style
Clean and simple, yet each Pokémon has been designed carefully, some have the typical dorky look making them adorable and cute, others sport a smug that brims confidence in its abilities, ferocious, weak, bashful, each monster has its own personality making them feel unique, which is not an easy task when you have 700+ of them.
I mean it gets the job done, the tunes are not complicated so they won't detract from the fast paced action of the game, yet they won't bother you as you hear the same track for the 100th time. In some areas the theme changes creating a much mysterious atmosphere and whenever a Legendary appears on the upper screen the music changes in the same vein Pokémon Black & White did with "Gym Leader (Last Pokémon)" theme.
The trial and error nature of the game
As you progress in your adventure to catch them all the game let's you recruit more Pokémon for your party, this will play as a double-edged sword since it'll will let you choose creatures to aid you in the quest, but there's also the chance of choosing the wrong match up for the stage, making your task a much arduous one.
Lack of Online Multiplayer
For a game that is available exclusive on the 3DS eShop this omission blows my mind, if the only medium to obtain the game is through an online shop, then why didn't Genius Sonority (the same development studio who created the 3DS franchise The Denpa Men) include at least an online leader board to compare your high scores? The repetitive nature of the game asks for a change of pace every now and then... there's a local multiplayer mode that sadly wasn't tried for this review, but from what I can gather from the Nintendo UK webpage, it is a co-op mode for the main quest, where your friends can make the task of catching Pokémon much easier.
Pokémon Battle Trozei is a deep and surprisingly addictive fast paced puzzle game, don't let the prize tag of $8.99 fool you, there are hours and hours of content in this game, the problem is the niche audience the game is aimed for, not everyone will be able to jump into this game and enjoy for what it is...
I would recommend to proceed with caution, if you're not a fan of the franchise but love puzzle games then you could give it a try, once you learn the basics of the type match the game itself becomes much easier to comprehend, au contraire for Pokémon fans who have never enjoyed a puzzle game then be careful, this may not be your cup of tea; but if you're a Pokémon fan who loves Puzzle games then definitely go for it, it's an entertaining game to play in short bursts, even if the game drags you to play for hours, sadly the lack of any kind of online mode hurts the longevity of the game.