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It's rare to find a title that doesn't offer anything that resembles a game, but replaces gameplay with a glorified Chao program. Of course, if any brand could pull off such a feat, it would be Nintendo's Pokemon -- enter Pokemon Channel.

The Facts

  • Watch Pokemon themed programming
  • Interact with Pikachu
  • Buy Pokemon paraphernalia from the shopping network
  • Answer trivia for PokeCash
  • Talk with wild Pokemon

    Gameplay
    A spiritual successor of Hey You, Pikachu!, Channel drops the microphone and lousy voice recognition software for a somewhat less clunky cursor interface, which is used to interact with Pikachu and your new world. Taking a cue from the popularity of plunking kids in front of the TV, Channel gives you the opportunity to watch "TV" on your very own television. Excitement for everyone. However, this unglamorous past time turned videogame does actually have a goal. You've been recruited by Professor Oak as a test audience for the new Pokemon Channel Television Network, which specializes in TV for Pokemon. Your job is to watch the available programming and report to Oak whether Pikachu enjoyed a given show -- which will help Oak decide what kind of programming to air.

    After reading this long spiel from Oak, you're forced to watch a segment from the Pokemon Channel exclusive anime, PichuBros.. After this mandatory viewing, you'll be able to explore the TV and room at your leisure. Your primary focus is your TV set. Here you can access programs like the Pokemon News Flash (anchored by Psyduck and reported by Meowth), Shop 'N Squirtle (shopping network), Quiz Obbuffet (compete in trivia for cash), Smoochum Shape-Up (aerobic exercise), Weather Channel, and Smeargle's Art Show. Most programs are just fluff. They inform you of facts you may or may not know about Pokemon, but it isn't all that informative or entertaining. Most programming isn't worth watching more than once, and you rarely find enjoyment from watching it once. The trivia questions are easy enough that you can usually guess the correct answer -- even if you know nothing of Pokemon. The only worthwhile programming is the PichuBros. because it's actually has some level of merit.

    The Pokemon centered anime is decent and the presentation resembles the cartoon that currently airs on Fox -- although PichuBros. doesn't have a powerful plot. The redeeming quality is that you can capture any screen from the show and then paint it using your Smeargle paint kit. While the colors and tools are rather limited, it's a neat prospect that's sure to keep kids entertained. You can choose to auction off the paintings you've created for cash (which you can then use to buy stuff from the shopping network) and the artwork you've created will be critiqued by Smeargle on his art show. Also, you'll be able to upload images to paint and patterns for the paint tool with the e-reader.

    Unfortunately, even if you're sick of watching TV and you want to explore your surroundings, Pikachu will demand that you turn the TV back on. Even though Pikachu will follow the aerobics on screen, learn to sing, or hop about in excitement while viewing -- you'll often wish you had a more active role in the proceedings.

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