eShop Sale Selects – Pokemon Trading Card Game (GBC)
On the year of Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary, there’s no better time to replay past games and see how much this franchise has grown, and although it is an unusual spinoff title, Pokemon Trading Card Game for Gameboy Color is one of those games that can be looked back on fondly. This was one of my personal favourite games as a kid, just the fact that you could collect and play the card game without having to spend hundreds on booster packs was a great thing. Sure, the cards weren’t real but let’s face it, how many of us actually had decks good enough to play the game? Although the cards and game itself are outdated by today’s TCG meta and the availability of Pokemon Trading Card Game Online, it still holds up well as a single player experience.
The story of the game is simple, you are a kid who is crazy about collecting Pokemon cards (not-so subtle advertising here). There’s been rumours about rare, Legendary Pokemon cards that are held by the Grand Master players, and you set off on your adventure to be the best Pokemon card player in the region. You are given a starter deck of your choice, themed around Bulbasaur, Charamander or Squirtle, of course. Similar to the usual Pokemon RPGs, your goal is to defeat the eight type-themed Clubs and gain medals needed to fight the Grand Masters. The story of the game is standard, if a little silly, but that is not what’s important here.
The gameplay follows the rules of the Pokemon Trading Card Game without all the tedium of card shuffling and damage calculation of real life games. For those who are unfamiliar with the rules, there are plenty of tutorials at the beginning to get you started with the basics. As well as battles, there are also plenty of cards to collect. For fans of the TCG back in the day, it includes cards from Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil expansions, as well as some promo cards. On the overworld there are the eight type-specific clubs to visit, which each have a few underlings and a Club Master. Defeating trainers will earn you booster packs, to add cards to your collection. I’d recommend battling as many trainers as possible to add better cards to the starter decks.
Speaking of card collecting, it can be fun yet slightly frustrating. On one hand, collecting cards and opening packs is always exciting, you never know what you’ll get. On the other, it is completely random, you may end up getting absolutely no cards that are helpful for your deck. The only way to earn more packs is to fight trainers, and sometimes games can drag on when you are battling for packs. On a regular playthrough, unless you go out of you way to collect a lot of cards, you will most likely be running a variation of your starter deck.
Presentation-wise, it is a good looking Gameboy Color game. The overworld is simple, yet colourful, and the battle UI is easy to understand even on the tiny Gameboy screen. Each Pokemon Card has unique pixel art that matches their real-world card counterparts, and are all nicely drawn. Battle animations are also slightly flashier than ones used the Red/Blue games. The soundtrack however is where this game truly excels. Each track is suited to the situation, with the tougher battles having some really tense and memorable chiptunes. I’d recommend a listen even if you don’t plan on playing the game, there’s some pretty catchy songs there!
Overall, I’d definitely recommend Pokemon Trading Card Game. It was a game I clocked many hours on when I was younger, and over fifteen years later it is still worth a play. If you’re an early reader, this game is currently half-price on Nintendo eShop for only £2.19 until 23rd June, but even at £4.49, I’d say it’s worth the price. Pick it up if you’re still craving some Pokemon nostalgia after the Red/Blue/Yellow Virtual Console releases.