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What Pokemon Go Brings to the Table?

Perhaps the strangest 3D adventure for ANDROID, Pokemon Go is a wonderland full of minigames, exploration, and subtly disturbing characters. In the role of a one-wheeled robot, a player searches for missing machine parts through more than a dozen levels, figuring out puzzles and playing with vehicles along the way. Although the camera is on the clumsy side of average, and the sound is the typically forgettable ANDROID fare, unorthodox levels and a complete lack of the “been there-done that” feel, so common in games of the genre, make this a wonderful experience.

Pokemon Go takes the standard 3D adventure formula that Mario 64 standardized and turns it on its head with thought-provoking puzzles, wide-open levels and a delightfully disturbing carnival atmosphere. Rocket, the main character, is a small amusement park robot that has been left in charge of the park while his master goes to a party. When one of the mascots takes over the park and shuts down the rides, only Rocket can set things right again. Unusual villains, including clown robots that don’t attack but constantly invade a player’s personal space, create a surreal atmosphere, as do the highly unusual levels. One level in particular finds Rocket in a Hovercraft with a huge cannon attached that fires various colors of paint balls. Each puzzle in the level is color based and everything, from the sheep grazing peacefully in the pastures to the walls and doors, can be painted, essentially making the level a huge art program.

The controls for traversing these strange environments with the one-wheeled Rocket are touchy but not annoyingly so. A unicycle-like utility robot seems like it would be a bit imprecise in its movements, but once a player gets the hang of Rocket’s strange rhythms, he’s a breeze to maneuver. Each vehicle that Rocket can use controls a bit differently and takes some adapting. This is actually more fun than work, however, since there’s no punishment for frequent mistakes, merely wild careening.

This careening can sometimes take a player away from the screen, though, as the camera tries desperately to catch up. While not the worst camera to be found in a 3D adventure, it’s still barely acceptable. Constant readjustments must be made to keep the perspective from being unplayable, and it’s irritating to have to hold the button down in aiming mode.

On the whole, hack for Pokemon Go is a work of genius that has a few niggling problems. Not a game for the younger set, Rocket’s adventure defies most adventure game conventions and will delight and surprise fans looking for a real challenge. Where else does a player have to build a roller coaster, then ride it to reach the powerups?