In their ongoing attempt to catch all of your money, Nintendo recently announced that they are working on their first Massively Multiplayer Online game, and it is already in the closed beta process. As Lusipurr has made no secret of his fetish for all things Pokemon, we here at Lusipurr.com were graciously provided an invitation to partake in the aforementioned MMO entitled Pokemon Rainbow. Being the greedy little snot that I am, I of course opened Lusipurr’s mail and took the beta code for myself. Darth Lane assures me that any breach of the non-disclosure agreement will be laid on Lusipurr’s scrawny nerd shoulders and not mine, so here we go with my impressions and review of the current state of the game.
The game begins as most MMOs do, with the character creation screens. The player is asked to create a Pokemon Trainer to represent his or her self in the online world. Players can choose to be male or female, can adjust their skin tone, hair style and colour, as well as body height and weight. Players can also customize their character’s outfit, something most MMOs do not offer, as most other MMOs have in-game armour and equipment with unique skins, whereas Pokemon Rainbow does not. Once the superficial aspects of the character have been created, and everyone and their uncle has created a tall, busty blonde trainer to stare at, the player then chooses a hometown. This is similar to the system in Final Fantasy XI and XIV where you begin in the town of your choosing, and story events are tailored to suit the unique environments. Players can choose to be from “Otakutown”, “Chinequarity”, and “Trollville”.
Regardless of which hometown the player chooses, the story progresses in essentially the same manner. The character meets an NPC Professor in a dark alley, in a park, on on a message board, and is tasked with going out into the wide world to start collecting and training pokemon. Pokemons? Pokemen? Whatever. Some old dude tells the player to take hold of his balls and go catch things. After wandering around the world and catching some creatures, the player can venture into more distant, wild lands where they will need the help of their new poke-pals to progress. In these more advanced areas there are many NPCs with an assortment of WoW-style quests, some of which will reward the player with a new pokemon. Poke-dudes are also available through random world encounters, some of which may require in-depth exploration and spawn-camping to obtain.
An alternative to aimlessly wandering around is Rainbow’s PvP option. Each hometown and select NPC towns have gyms, where players battle other players, where the winner keeps the defeated pokemon, and the loser keeps the bitter sting of defeat in their soul. While it has not been implemented yet, Nintendo has stated that they plan to institute a ladder system, offering additional rewards to players who rank highly. Players will be segregated into different ladders based on how many pokebuddies they have, and their levels, ensuring that new players are not roflstomped by veteran players. Ladders will be designated Noob, Normal, and Get-a-Life.
Many MMO players are accustomed to epic endgame raiding content, hordes of nerds banding together to fight a common evil. Luckily Pokemon Rainbow does deliver in this regard. Please consider the remainder of this paragraph as one giant spoiler. As the game progresses, the player learns that they and all of the other player-controlled trainers in the world are actually being used as pawns by a Taiwanese kid named Ping Chow. In his devilish quest to “catch ’em all” for himself, he lured scores of pokefans with promises of candy and glory to go out and capture and train pokemons for him using a fake online pokemon game. The player discovers that this Ping Chow is a dirty little hacker, stealing your hard-earned pokemon and subscription money, blaming it all on Chinese WoW gold farmers. Players must band together to lay a whooping on this kid.
Visually, Pokemon Rainbow is a departure from most MMORPGs, favouring a more anime-styled approach. While many online gamers will be confused by the bright colours and super-deformed characters, Pokemon players should feel right at home in this world. The audio, frankly went unnoticed. My speakers are broken. Sorry-dorry.