I'll start by saying that the only reason I bought this game was for Manaphy. If I were to like the game then that would be just a bonus. And also other reviews have gone into the game mechanics and you can find those on any game website. So I'm just going to tell my personal experience with the game.
I went in feeling hopeful; the music was fair, graphics were good, story was non-existent but that's not a problem in the RPG Pokemon games that I love so much. Things went downhill though when I actually started the missions. The first (or second, I can't really remember) mission I did was finding Skitties for some crazy cat lady in town. For some reason she owned about 6 of these and I had to find all of them and an extra one that didn't actually belong to her. And for no reward! What joy! The main missions didn't get any better either but I'll get back to that, because I want to explain how much I hate the game's mechanics.
Okay, so Pokemon sprites come up to you in the over world and you fight them. Fine, like in Mother 3. So you draw your little circles until it stops wanting to brain you and it comes with you. Then it helps you and goes on it's merry way. Great. But why oh why can you only use them once? If you use say a Magnemite to charge your capture styler, it goes away. And then, when you go back to it later, forgets you ever became friends and wants to kill you again. This gets truly ridiculous when you need Hariyama to help you clear rocks in a tunnel. there are three piles of rocks so you can use Hariyama three times right? Wrong. You need three Hariyama. Three grumpy, giant Pokemon who are really hard to catch. And also a Kirlia to help you catch them... Great. What I did was catch the same Hariyama and Kirlia three times because catching the other two at the same time was such a pain. I know that you're a Ranger in this game and over-working the Pokemon would be bad, but this does not for a fun game make. When you need to clear annoying obstacles in the RPG Pokemon games, you use their HM moves (which they can use EVEN WHILE THEY'RE FAINTED).
The thing that broke me though, the part of the game that made me sob and not touch the game for months was this: There is a part of the game where you - for some reason - have to complete challenges in a temple. They're okay at first, not too difficult. Until you get to the maze. In this maze you have to use Pokemon to clear obstacles and work your way through. You can't save at any point and if you screw up once, you go back and have to do it again. I got through this slog and found that I still couldn't save. And what came next? Why Salamence of course! A Pokemon that's a complete monster in the RPG and is no better here. Your partner is completely useless here (even though Salamence is part Flying and not immune to electricity) so all you can do is draw your circles and pray. I died of course and the game made me go back to the start of that @£$%^&^ maze. So that's as far as I got and am now too broken by it to try again. I'd say only buy it if you're a fan, but I'm a diehard fan of the Pokemon games and I don't like this at all. I've played some spinoffs like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Colosseum, hell I even liked Link more than this.
Looking at it though, I think they took away the greatest thing about the RPG Pokemon games; the way you can build a team of your favourite Pokemon characters and play with them wherever you go. I love the Pokemon on my games to death (especially my Slowking named after Stephen Fry). And the only comrades you have in Ranger is a Plusle that's useless half the time, and some derpy humans with no personality.
So to sum up: Horrible game. Get Pokemon Soul Silver or Black if you don't want to torture your grandkids with a mediocre, difficult game.
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