Announced for Nintendo 3DS during the last Nintendo Direct, Pokémon Link: Battle is yet another “spin off” of the Pokémon series. Developed by Genious Sonorty, which has already brought us games like Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon Battle Revolution, this title is the sequel to the original Pokémon Trozei, released in 2006 for the Nintendo DS. Faced with such a popular and critically acclaimed series, the challenge of the producer to seek an original, creative and agglutinating concept of the theme associated with the fighting of these pocket monsters was almost natural.

The result of this challenge proposed by Nintendo for the old portable two-screen console was a puzzle game based on the classic 3 in line, but with many of the rules that are the basis of Pokémon games, that is, battles between a plurality of monsters. The concept has adapted well to the Nintendo DS interaction model, finding safe partners on the touchscreen and stylus. 8 years later, Pokémon Link: Battle returns to the screen of a new laptop, the 3DS, and is marked by the inclusion of a few more rules that make this little puzzle game an appealing challenge for more or less prolonged matches.

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A line of Pokémon launches an immediate attack.

The option for the puzzle or puzzle game concept, as you prefer, led to the creation of a very specific design and interface. At a glance through the game, it doesn’t even look like a pokémon title. Only the attentive look leads us to distinguish the design of the small monsters inside a checkered base (link box) that occupies a margin of the upper screen and almost the entire lower screen, except for two side slices. At the top of the grid is the Pokémon you will face. As this pokémon has health points (health points: HP), they will have to make connections between three or more same pokémons in order for these to be transferred out of the Link Box and make an attack on the opponent.

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The goal is to make more and more lines of Pokémon from the same or other classes. The process of creating lines is quite simple. Just check where two pokémons of the same class are located next to each other and press with the stylus on a third one and drag it to the side of the other two or to the middle of it. A line is made. But if they are fast (there is a short time that goes from the creation of the connection to its disappearance), they can add even one or two other Pokémon of the same class, which will strengthen the attack.

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From the moment these monsters are transferred to the top screen, they can continue to make more lines until the attack above is performed, and if they continue on that wave, they perform combos that make the attack even more devastating, while relieving it the Link Box of little monsters. The simplicity of the mechanics, combined with these rules, makes the matches very frantic and with few stops.

Time for combinations.

As I mentioned above, next to the Link Box there are two side strips that serve as the energy meter for the box itself. When attacked by one (or several) wild pokémon, this energy disappears and if it ends before winning the opponent they lose the fight and return to the beginning of the level. In practice, the challenge is also against time, as many of the attacks of the wild pokémon go undetected and just an observation of the energy indicator, accompanied by an alarming sound when the energy is about to run out, leads us to act with faster. Then it also happens that this opponent tries to distract the player, by invading the Link Box on the bottom many times, removing some room for maneuver.

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When you beat the wild Pokémon, it quickly starts to play in your favor, that is, it becomes available in the Link Box. During the fight it is decisive to obtain lines, but it is not less important to observe how the opponent’s health bar is affected by Pokémon used in the attack. This is because if you make a line of Pokémon of a class capable of doing more damage to your opponent, if you add combinations to it he is easily defeated. Imagine that you are fighting a pokémon that has fire as a characteristic. The option is to attack with water type pokémons. Altogether there are more than 700 pokémons, coming from Pokémon X and Y.

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Although the first levels turn out to be highly simple, created in order to take the player to learn how this puzzle works, with levels of combat against one or two opponents that little energy steals from the link box, later on they will have to fight against immense pokémons within the same level, which makes the defense tighter, implying a defeat in the last or the penultimate fight. Most of the time these outcomes are due to the impossibility of making lines with the most appropriate pokémons to remove health from the opponent. It is a somewhat tricky process of artificial intelligence that clearly leads to an announced defeat, as many of the pokémons that remain on the grid barely lose health to the opponent, while we are suffering attacks that end our game.

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It is therefore useful to quickly eliminate the first opponents and resort to a special tactic called link chance that consists of making two lines in a row: one with four pokémons followed by another with three. From here, a window opens to make combinations of just two Pokémon. With luck they can empty the link box and quickly defeat the opponent of the level. It is also important to look at the database of expired Pokémon. Some can be chosen as allies depending on their adaptation to the opponents that we will have to face at that level. But since many are unknown at the outset, it is only after a defeat that the best choices are made. If you call the combat more than once the same pokémon your relationship with him will improve, with reflection on the final score.

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You can always consult the pokémons available and access the elements of each one.

Due to its particular mechanics, Pokémon Link: Battle does not offer great diversity in terms of design, so the trip around the island, through its different zones, brings little more than new pokémons, levels and higher degrees of difficulty. A relevant component of the game is its multiplayer structure, which allows you to play with up to four friends as long as they all have the same game installed on the 3DS, through games in lan mode (wireless local connection). Once there, they can form two teams and play in a cooperative mode, aiming for the best score. In this case the frenetic character of the fighting continues. The game also has some features in terms of Street Pass, namely the exchange of game data and that involve challenges in order to obtain pokémons not yet available by those who captured the signal from our 3DS, operating as allies in future battles.

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What makes Pokémon Link: Battle an interesting game is precisely the nature of its concept and its immediate adaptation to the main line of the Pokémon series. Within the existing spin offs it is one of the most appealing, even if this is a sequel and not an original production. But this also provides some positive effects, such as the renewed, refreshing graphics and a more colorful and well-accommodated presentation on the two screens of the 3DS. Then, the method of interaction, which also works well within a concept that allows for more or less time-consuming matches. If you want to capture more than 700 Pokémon without having to play Pokémon X or Y, consider this option.

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