Pokémon Channel

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Pokémon Channel
Pokémon Channel Coverart.png
North American cover art, featuring the Pokémon Pikachu, Torchic, Treecko, and Mudkip (from left)
Developer(s) Ambrella
Publisher(s) The Pokémon Company
Distributor(s) Nintendo
Director(s)
  • Muneaki Ozawa
  • Norio Matsumura
Producer(s)
  • Tatsuya Hishida
  • Kunimi Kawamura
Designer(s)
  • Muneaki Ozawa
  • Miki Obata
  • Norio Matsumura
  • Kunimi Kawamura
Programmer(s)
  • Takayuki Ito
  • Yosuke Suma
  • Nayuta Taga
  • Ein Terakawa
  • Yoshihiro Hatta
  • Hisato Matsumoto
  • Yoshiyuki Oku
Writer(s)
  • Miki Obata
  • Norio Matsumura
  • Takayuki Ito
  • Masayuki Miura
  • Hizuki Misono
Composer(s) Jun Umebori
Series Pokémon
Platform(s) GameCube
Release
  • JP July 18, 2003
  • NA December 1, 2003
  • EU April 2, 2004
Genre(s)
Mode(s) Single-player

Pokémon Channel, released in Japan as Pokémon Channel ~Together with Pikachu!~ (ポケモンチャンネル ~ピカチュウといっしょ!~?, Pokemon Channeru ~Pikachū to Issho!~), is a 2003 video game in the Pokémon series for the GameCube, developed by Ambrella and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. The player's goal is to help Professor Oak refine and promote his TV network through watching broadcasts with a Pikachu. The game contains elements of the adventure, digital pet, and simulation genres. The player can explore full 3D environments, have Pikachu converse with other Pokémon, and collect various items.

The game was developed rather quickly as a sequel to the Nintendo 64 title Hey You, Pikachu! and to promote the Nintendo e-Reader accessory, and uses a novel 3D texturing effect. It was first showcased at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2003 and later through a month-long series of promotional events in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It was released on July 18, 2003, in Japan, December 1 in North America, and April 2, 2004, in Europe. In Japan, the game sold 66,373 copies in its first year. It received mixed reviews, which generally criticized its low level of interactivity and repetitive sound effects, though its collecting aspects and visuals were somewhat better received.

Gameplay[edit]

Pokémon Channel is difficult to categorize into a genre,[1][2] as it incorporates elements of adventure,[3] simulation,[1] and digital pet games.[4] The graphics are in 3D,[3] the perspective is first-person,[5] and the player navigates and selects things with a cursor.[4] The game centers on watching television programs with a Pikachu, a mouse-like Pokémon.[3] The player, who lives in a house, can channel-surf freely among the various channels of a television network created by the elderly Professor Oak, as well as explore one room of the house and several outdoor areas.[4][6][7] Pikachu sometimes displays emotional reactions while watching, such as happiness or anger.[3][4] The game takes place over a few days, with unique plot events on each. The GameCube's inner clock tracks time such that every in-game day lasts at least as long as one real-time day.[3][4]

While several channels are available, only a few are essential to the completion of the game. The player saves the game by reporting on recent accomplishments to Oak at Prof. Oak Report, watches episodes of an anime series at Pichu Bros., and listens to plot-advancing news coverage from a Psyduck at Pokémon News Flash (PNF). On a channel called Shop 'n Squirtle, the player uses the game's currency, "Poké", to purchase bus passes to travel among the game's locations, as well as non-essential items like Pokémon dolls, new television sets in various styles, and other decorations, all delivered by a Delibird (a bird-like Pokémon that carries various items in its satchel).[3][8] Extraneous channels include the trivia-based game show Quiz Wobbuffet,[3] where the player earns Poké,[9] the art exhibition program Smeargle's Art Study, where Smeargle gives opinions on art that can be created in a paint-by-numbers style in the player's house,[4][7] and the exercise program Smoochum Shape-Up.[3]

The main collectibles available in Pokémon Channel are trading cards that display various Pokémon. The trading cards, known in game as Nice Cards, exist in three forms: Single, which simply show a picture; Motion, which are holographic; and Platinum, which are holographic and play the respective Pokémon's cries.[3] The collectibles can be found by having Pikachu speak with other Pokémon and help them with tasks,[6] or by ordering from Shop 'n Squirtle.[3] There is a virtual Pokémon Mini console hidden under the player's bed that plays six games: Snorlax's Lunch Time (exclusive to Pokémon Channel)[3] and five others previously released for the real-life Pokémon Mini.[10] The games are simple and mainly based on rhythm.[4]

Plot[edit]

Pikachu watches a game show, Quiz Wobbuffet

The game opens with a group of Magnemite—magnet-like Pokémon with levitation abilities—delivering a television to the player's house. Upon turning the television on, Professor Oak appears to request the player's help: he is creating a new television network for Trainers and their Pokémon to enjoy together, and he wants the player to serve as a beta tester.[11] He has them watch an episode of an anime called Pichu Bros. and then introduces the game's basic features before leaving them alone.[4] The player then hears Pokémon cries from outside,[12] which turn out to belong to a Pikachu and two other creatures: the reptilian Treecko and the avian Torchic. While the others run off, the Pikachu stays and the player adopts it. Oak decides to allow Pikachu to be a second beta tester.[13]

After completing a few tasks, the player returns to Oak's channel, and the Professor remarks that Pikachu has behaved remarkably well.[14] The overexcited Pikachu uses its Thunderbolt attack on the television and destroys it.[15] Unfazed, Oak has the Magnemite deliver a "retro" television while the player and Pikachu wait for a replacement of the original.[16][17] When the replacement arrives the next morning, the Professor remarks that the player's viewership has brought life to the network and helped spawn new shows.[18] The player then finds a bus stop and visits Viridian Forest, a location that first appeared in Pokémon Red and Blue.[19]

The third day opens with Pikachu asleep in the cupboard and Oak expressing pleasure at the Pokémon's growing attachment to the player.[20][21] On the fourth day, Pikachu invites its friends back over.[22] Little else occurs on these two days besides visits to the snowy Mt. Snowfall and the tropical Cobalt Coast,[23][24] although Oak does continue to laud the player's investment in the network, which has become a huge success.[25]

On the morning of the fifth day, the Pokémon News Flash reports on a breaking news story:[26] a disc containing the unaired fifth episode of Pichu Bros. was dropped and lost by the delivery Magnemite on their way to the show's broadcasting studio.[27][28][29] After obtaining a lamp from a friendly Duskull in the front lawn,[30] the player takes a bus back to Mt. Snowfall, where the disc was presumed lost.[31] Eastward are the Ruins of Truth, where the stubborn Ghost-type Pokémon Gengar blocks the player's path until it is scared away by the lamp.[32] Inside the Ruins, Pikachu gets stuck inside a statue of the bat-like Pokémon Golbat.[33] Upon being shaken free, the missing disc pops out.[34] The player hands it back to Magnemite, who is waiting sheepishly outside,[35] and heads home to watch the last episode, along with a video called Meowth's Party.[36]

Oak informs the player that every program produced for his network has been aired,[37] thanking the player and Pikachu for their time,[38][39] and announces the impending arrival of a gift for them.[40] The gift, which arrives the following morning, is a "Star Projector", a device for viewing images flashed across the sky.[41] That night, Professor Oak notices that a Pokémon has arrived at the player's house—the rare and legendary Jirachi—which leaves him in shock.[42] The player, Pikachu, and Jirachi then visit Camp Starlight, the locale for which the Projector is intended.[43] Using it, they project the entire series of Pichu Bros. and Meowth's Party onto the sky for the universe to see, and the story ends.[44] This event also allows players of the PAL version (i.a. Europe and Australia) to download a Jirachi to a copy of Pokémon Ruby or Sapphire via the Nintendo GameCube – Game Boy Advance link cable.[45]

Development and release[edit]

Pokémon Channel was created in part to promote the Nintendo e-Reader (pictured) and included three cards for it.

Pokémon Channel was developed by Nintendo subsidiary Ambrella and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. It was created both to serve as a spiritual successor to Hey You, Pikachu!—a similar digital pet-type game wherein the player plays with a Pikachu—and to promote the Nintendo e-Reader peripheral device. The game included three e-Reader-compatible cards, but not the e-Reader device itself.[46] When scanned, the cards upload new templates for the player to paint and for Smeargle to critique.[4]

The game uses the visual effect of applying pre-rendered video footage to a polygon, specifically the game's pre-recorded shows on the television. IGN writer Anoop Gantayat praised this effect's implementation, although he did note some minor graphical issues visible in the transition from distanced to full-screen viewing.[47] Also unusual for the Pokémon video game series, the Pokémon's voices are borrowed from the anime and sound like their names.[6]

The game was first announced at E3 2003, where IGN staff noted that the game's demo appeared to be early in development due to its choppy frame rate.[48] Pokémon Channel was released on July 18, 2003, in Japan,[49] December 1 in North America,[4] and April 2, 2004, in Europe.[50] The game was showcased on its Japanese release date at the Sapporo, Hokkaido, location of Pokémon Fest 2003 (ポケモンフェスタ2003?, Pokemon Festa 2003), a series of promotional events that extended across Japan and lasted about a month. Attendees could play the game at GameCube kiosks.[49]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 51%[51]
Metacritic 55/100[52]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com C+[53]
AllGame 1.5/5 stars[5]
Famitsu 31/40[54]
Game Informer 6.5/10[1]
GamePro 3.0/5[55]
GameSpot 5.4/10[3]
GameSpy 1/5 stars[6]
IGN 5/10[4]
Nintendo Power 7.2/10[56]

Pokémon Channel has scores of 51% and 55% on the review aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively, both indicating a mixed or average reception.[51][52] Reviewers felt that the game would only suit existing Pokémon fans and young children: staff at 1UP.com summarized that "the various diversions here are cute, slickly produced, and entertaining, assuming you really, really dig Pokémon", and that even fans would be bored if over the age of five.[53] Justin Leeper of Game Informer claimed that fans would enjoy it but "everyone else will be turned off, pun intended".[1] Author Tokyo Drifter of GamePro guessed that the game had been "tailored for die-hard fans" and would please no one else.[55] IGN's Mary Jane Irwin stated that its intuitive interface, copious instructions, and "mindless entertainment" would keep young players entertained.[4] Nintendo Power's review called the game "hours of fun for Pokémon fans."[56]

Reviewers complained about the game's low level of interactivity due to most of the gameplay time being spent watching television with Pikachu. Summarizing the gameplay in general as "weak", GameSpot's Ricardo Torres argued that the game's promising ideas were fundamentally deadened by "the gimmick of having to 'virtually' watch television programs" and the long stretches of time this entails.[3] Leeper claimed that Pikachu "will be content much longer than you will" and decried the channels' non-interactive nature while praising the unlockable status of a few.[1] Darryl Vassar of GameSpy went even further and claimed that there was "no gameplay". He gave the game only one star out of five as a result, despite calling the animation quality and Pokémon voices "decent".[6] Tokyo Drifter found its low interactivity and slow pace to be the two biggest barriers for Pokémon fan enjoyment, and gave the game a 3.0 on a five-point scale.[55] Irwin stated that the player would desire more interactivity and condemned the programs overall, with the exception of Pichu Bros, which she called "the only worthwhile programming".[4]

The game's 3D graphics received lukewarm opinions. Torres called them "decent but unspectacular" and "bland". His praise focused on the animations of the Pokémon with "distinct animations that suit their personalities", especially that of Pikachu.[3] Irwin echoed these opinions.[4] Vassar stated that the Pokémon animations were better than those in the then-upcoming GameCube title Pokémon Colosseum and found the environments passable, if boring and overly limited.[6] Tokyo Drifter found the environments "bright and colorful" while wholeheartedly praising the smooth and "adorable" Pokémon animations.[55]

The sound and music were negatively received. Torres focused on their repetitiveness, stating that some of the music within the programs was catchy but "it starts to grate after some of the mandatory repeated viewings you'll have to endure", and that the paucity of sound effects "puts the weight of the audio burden on the Pokémon voices, which, while accurate, are naturally repetitive".[3] Irwin and Vassar gave special focus to the repetitiveness of the voices.[6] Tokyo Drifter gave little opinion on the voices but found the lack of voice acting for Oak to be disappointing.[55]

Critics praised the large number of collectible items and Pokémon in the game. Torres noted the game's many items to collect and Pokémon for Pikachu to meet, and praised the game's increased replay value as a result.[3] Tokyo Drifter thought similarly, calling the collecting aspects "a prominent part of the gaming experience".[55] Irwin found the collecting aspects a nice way to pass time and called the incorporation of the virtual Pokémon Mini "a nice diversion".[4]

Within three days of its Japanese release, Pokémon Channel sold 12,581 copies, making it the thirteenth best-selling game among all platforms during its release week (July 14 to July 20).[57] By August 17, 2003, its Japanese sales totaled 38,617 copies.[2] The title had sold 66,373 copies in Japan by December 28 of the same year.[58]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Leeper, Justin (January 2004). "Should You Touch That Dial?". Game Informer. No. 129. p. 141. 
  2. ^ a b 集計期間:2003年8月11日〜2003年8月17日 (in Japanese). Famitsu. August 17, 2003. Archived from the original on February 11, 2006. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Torres, Ricardo. "Pokemon Channel Review: If you ever thought it would be cool to hang out with Pikachu, think again.". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Irwin, Mary Jane (December 4, 2003). "Pokemon Channel: Watch TV thanks to your GameCube.". IGN. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Pokémon Channel". Allgame. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Vassar, Darryl (January 23, 2004). "Pokemon Channel". GameSpy. Archived from the original on April 17, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Calvert, Justin (May 13, 2003). "Pokémon Channel E3 2003 Preshow Report". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Delibird came to make a delivery! 
  9. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Wobbuffet: Correct! You've won [Poké symbol]50! 
  10. ^ Harris, Craig (September 4, 2001). "Pokemon Mini: Nintendo reveals details on its next Pokemon gimmick: an update to the Pocket Pikachu.". IGN. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  11. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: You've been chosen as our first test audience. But, first things first. May I have your name? 
  12. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Oh? What was that cry? 
  13. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: [Player's name]! When you're filing your reports, could you let us know what it was like watching television with this Pikachu? 
  14. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: I was a bit worried that Pikachu might get into some mischief, but I see there's no cause for concern. 
  15. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Pikachu used Thunderbolt! 
  16. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Hmm... For the time being, we'll send you a replacement TV. 
  17. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Obtained the Retro TV! 
  18. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Now, several new programs have finally gone on the air. It's all thanks to your reports, [player's name]. 
  19. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Take the bus to Viridian Forest? 
  20. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Pikachu isn't here? 
  21. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: That Pikachu has obviously taken a big liking to you, too. How about giving it a nickname? 
  22. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: [Pikachu's name] doesn't know how to turn the TV on. 
  23. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Take the bus to Mt. Snowfall? 
  24. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Take the bus to Cobalt Coast? 
  25. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: I have great news for you. Thanks to your reports, [player's name], the Smeargle Paint System has been upgraded! 
  26. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Subtitles: Program Disc Goes Missing! 
  27. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Blaziken: Deliver this to the broadcast center. 
  28. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Magnemite: I'll deliver it with care! 
  29. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Magnemite: The Program Disc fell... 
  30. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Received the Duskull Lamp as thanks! 
  31. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: The disc seems to have disappeared on the summit of Mt. Snowfall. 
  32. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Gengar was startled and fled! 
  33. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: [Pikachu's name] is stuck! Jiggle the [GameCube's Control Stick] and set it free! 
  34. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Something popped out with [Pikachu's name]. 
  35. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Alert: Magnemite came to retrieve the Program Disc you found. 
  36. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Logo: Meowth's Party: Meowth & Pokémon BAND 
  37. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Finally, every program on Pokémon Channel has gone on the air. 
  38. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: We really were lucky to have chosen you as a monitor, [player's name]. 
  39. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Ah, yes, I mustn't overlook [Pikachu's name]'s contributions. [Pikachu's name] deserves our thanks, too. 
  40. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: We are currently preparing a gift for you two as a token of our appreciation. 
  41. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: The gift is the Star Projector. 
  42. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Oh? Here comes a Pokémon now, just as I speak. ...That Pokémon? It can't be! 
  43. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Oak: Use it to enjoy a starry screening with Pokémon at Camp Starlight. 
  44. ^ Ambrella (December 1, 2003). Pokémon Channel. Nintendo. Text: The End 
  45. ^ Cheshire, Sophie (June 9, 2004). "Pokemon Channel". Thunderbolt. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  46. ^ Harris, Craig (December 3, 2003). "Pokemon Channel's e-Reader Support". IGN. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  47. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (July 18, 2003). "Pokemon Channel Playtest". IGN. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  48. ^ "E3 2003: Pokemon Triple Threat". IGN. May 13, 2003. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  49. ^ a b ポケモンフェスタ2003が札幌で開幕!! (in Japanese). Famitsu. July 19, 2003. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Search Result". PEGI. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  51. ^ a b "Pokemon Channel". GameRankings. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  52. ^ a b "Pokemon Channel". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  53. ^ a b 1UP Staff. "Pokemon Channel (Phil)". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  54. ^ ポケモンチャンネル 〜ピカチュウといっしょ!〜 (in Japanese). Famitsu. July 18, 2003. Archived from the original on March 15, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  55. ^ a b c d e f Tokyo Drifter (December 2, 2003). "Review: Pokemon Channel". GamePro. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  56. ^ a b "Pokémon Channel". Nintendo Power. No. 176. February 2004. p. 150. 
  57. ^ 集計期間:2003年7月14日~2003年7月20日 (in Japanese). Famitsu. August 1, 2003. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  58. ^ "2003年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP300(ファミ通版)" (in Japanese). Geimin. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 

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