Pokémon Dash

Review: Pokemon Dash

DS Review

Stylus at the ready. 3. The sweat is flowing. 2. Anticipation growing. 1. Heart pumping. Go! Welcome to Pokemon Dash.

At first you are treated to a short and colourful introduction of the somewhat cute Pikachu. After sitting back and watching him do his thing, it's time to grab your stylus, then jab and stretch his face until he gives you your menu options. I myself enjoy this bit a tad too much and find that distorting his face can become a little addictive. The first menu that pops up is the single player, so let us concentrate on that for now.

Upon bursting Pikachu's bubble you are treated to two options. The first of which is Regular GP. Unless it's not quite obvious enough, this is just your standard racing against computer-controlled characters. The second option is practice, which I must add is quite handy if you are new to the world of Dash.

So I would suggest that your first port of call, before you do anything else, would be the Practice section. It is highly important to do this, as the controls are a little strange at first. One of the main moves is known as sliding, which is simply running across the screen. Thankfully as this is the most often used move (read: practically all the time) it is done very simply by moving the stylus in the direction of the coloured arrows. These coloured arrows can come in three different types: green, yellow and red. It's a simple enough guide to show how far away you are from the next checkpoint, with green meaning the furthest away and red being the closest. It's easy enough to guess what the yellow could possibly signify.

The checkpoints are rather cleverly designed to look just like Pokéballs and are simply circular areas you have to reach in the correct order. The correct order is depicted by the coloured arrows, which we spoke about just above here. The first person or Pokémon to reach the last checkpoint is therefore declared the winner. So now that we have learnt that it's on to the harder stuff.

Along the way you quickly learn one of the most important lessons you will ever have to remember and it all involves terrain. In total there are four different types of terrain. The standard is grass that does not cause you to slow down or speed up, think of it as tarmac would be for a car. The other four are forest, desert, swamp and ocean. The first three will hinder your progress through the courses unless you pick up some rather effective power ups, in the form of coloured pads, which are represented by green - forest pad, yellow – desert and blue - swamp. Crossing the ocean is a little harder as Pikachu can drown. Thankfully a helpful creature called Lapras can carry you from one island to the other, more like a boat than a Pokémon.

Another way of crossing the ocean a whole lot faster is the use of hot air balloons. These are easily found by looking for a small collection of balloons on the ground, slide your friendly critter over these small multi coloured rubber blobs of joy and you will find yourself souring into the sky. What makes it a little more challenging is that in the sky there is nothing to guide you except for radar and a very small Pikachu shaped shadow on the ground. Using the radar you can select which area of the map you want to go to by looking for the next checkpoint and moving the stylus down over the dive button.

It is possible to fall behind the race leader quite easily, especially as the hand does tend to get tired from so much racing. Thankfully there is one way of overcoming this, but it does prove to be tricky. Fall with only one balloon and soon the leader is insight again. Doing this trick on any of the surface types other than grass and Pikachu will be stunned for a few seconds, meaning that timing and planning are required for such a dastardly feat. This does make the game a little harder to play; unfortunately sometimes it may prove to be too hard and really frustrating.

Regular GP starts off nice and easy enough, providing you have played through the practice mode (if you haven't, well then hop to it), with the first of five cups called 'Green Cup'. The rest of the cups are un-lockable after getting at least bronze in green cup and gradually get harder with additions of all the terrain, power ups and a rather large helping of the intense hot air balloon racing. That is where the problem then appears, as after a little you tend to notice that maybe there isn't much to this game. Sometimes it feels a little empty, maybe a little repetitive too. On other occasions it can be frustratingly tricky to get ahead of other Pokémon, meaning hard earned points are lost.

Things aren't really getting any better as we enter the multiplayer mode. The only options you can play with in the menu is either to host a race or join one. Whatever you finally choose, when the race begins there happens to be only one character to race with. This of course being the electric yellow one himself: Pikachu. Even if there are six people playing, each player will have the same character. I wasn't too impressed by this, especially when the six of you don't know who is who and which Pikachu is in the lead…oh so confusing.

The general graphic style is fairly basic, except for maybe during the intro where you get a full on 3D Pikachu. It really isn't much to shout about and I'm sure I have seen Game Boy graphics that nearly compare. Mind you, there isn't too much that you can expect from a 2D top down racer. To go along with the rather basic graphical style is the accompanying plain music, which I'm sure never changes. I can't be too sure as I do tend to play with the volume off. Well there is only so much you can take after a while, especially with the constant shouts of 'Pika Pika'. It is quite safe to say the music isn't enjoyable. It may even by hazardous to your health if you listen to it for long enough.

As I have mentioned, one of the main things that stands out is the lack in depth, variety and lastability. This is the case with most Pokémon spin-offs. Now I am a fan of the original Pokémon series and subsequent sequels, but unfortunately this game doesn't do the name of Pokémon any help by providing a mediocre game which uses the brand as a way of selling another game.

Not to say that the designers didn't try and give it some depth, though. For instance, you can plug in your other Pokémon games, such as Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red or Leaf Green, and earn yourself up to something around the mark of another 380 courses, with each new course taking on the shape of the imported Pokémon. Although no matter how many courses this game has I am still disappointed and would probably only recommend this to diehard fans of the franchise.

So warning to all, if you wish to play an enjoyable and gripping game, with a long lifespan, then do not buy Pokemon Dash. If, of course, you just want a senseless game where you play with Pikachu and you wish for a sore hand from constant rubbing, then I urge you to buy this game straight away. Otherwise, if you're in the middle of either of these categories, just borrow it off your mates for five minutes and give it back later.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Pokemon lovers should get a kick out of this. Anyone else need not apply

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability4
  • Visuals2
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Easy to play
Exercise for your hand


Just plain ugly
Damned happy music
Only Pikachu

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