I like Pokémon. I like it a lot, really. But Nintendo has managed to concoct a Pokémon tie-in that will shame even the most ardent fans of this prolific franchise. Pokémon Channel innovates by nixing nearly all traces of gameplay, providing an experience that captivates for whole minutes with its absurdity and oddly-disturbing qualities.
First and foremost, Pokémon Channel is not a game, but more akin to a digital toy. Developed by the Marigul/Ambrella, the team responsible for the dismally-received Hey You Pikachu!, it's no surprise that Pokémon Channel has a similarly pointless feel. What's different, however, is that this time it's without any innovative aspects, such as that title's voice recognition control or 3D movement. This isn't really a fun toy, either, but more like one of those Fisher-Price "busy boxes" for young kids: Hit a button and it makes a noise; turn this knob and listen to the Pikachu say its name, etc.
As the title would suggest, Pokémon Channel centers around a new interactive television for people and Pokémon. Each station is different, and more shows become available as you progress. Of course, there's lots of reading involved and things to collect, but it's not a game by any means, as nearly 90 percent of the time you "play" is spent passively watching, and all interaction is done via a point-and-click interface.
In fact, your first task is to simply watch a short cartoon starring the (admittedly adorable) Pichu Brothers. After watching the cartoon, a wild Pikachu wanders into your room and becomes captivated by the TV, and then Professor Oak asks that you watch TV with Pikachu to provide him with valuable marketing research so they can fine tune this new product. Yes, you are the new "Pok¿Nielsens" -- I'm sure we can all look forward to the online version of this, in which Nintendo collects actual product data to further hone its increasingly cynical marketing edge.