Pokemon Trading Card Game
Lay off. I was curious, it was cheap, nobody was watching.

The Pokemon Trading Card Game is yet another in an incredibly long and lucrative line of Pokemon-based games as produced by Nintendo. This game stands out from the crowd in that you don't control a Pokemon trainer, but an aspiring champion of the Pokemon card game. Instead of collecting Pokemon themselves, you collect cards, build decks, and battle other players for cards, prestige and the ultimate prize, the Legendary Cards.

After an introduction with training and some free cards helpfully provided, you can get on with your task of dominating all that stand in your path. What's in your path? Various clubs tied to the different types of Pokemon card (lightning, water, fire, fisticuffs, decaf, grande latte, quarter pounder, fillet of fish and Weever! You So Stupeeeeeed!) and the Pokemon Stadium itself, which you can't gain entry to until you've defeated each of the club masters.

The card game itself is essentially a simplified version of Magic the Gathering. You can play a certain amount of Pokemon to the table at any one time, but can only attack or defend with one active Pokemon. To actually use the powers of the Pokemon in question, it is necessary to play related energy cards under it. It's generally only possible to play one energy card a turn, and some powers require specific types of card. You can also draw other types of cards, such as "Professor Oak", which allows you to discard your hand and draw a fresh one, cards to restore Pokemon health, modifiers to offence and defence, and more.

Despite myself, I ended up having a lot of fun playing this game - the battles are addictive, and it's interesting to see what new cards you get when winning. Two player battles sound quite intriguing, but I didn't have the capacity to try one. One assumes it would use the same mechanic as the single player game, but via the link cable. Apparently, it's also possible to gain extra unique cards via a "card popping" mechanic between unique cartridges - this can only be done once between a particular pair of carts. Gotta catch 'em all.

Don't expect a great deal of the sound or graphics - music isn't annoying enough to be an issue, but it's not much of an improvement on that, and the graphics are pretty straightforward. It's not really advancement on the standard Pokemon games, at least as far as I can tell.

One last note - it has a rather neat feature if you have a Game Boy Printer - it's possible to print deck designs, card lists and individual cards. Who knows what the quality would be like, but it's a nice gimmick.

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