||The Learning Company
|Minimum System Requirements:
||PC: Pentium 166, Windows 95 or later, 32 Mb RAM, 10 Mb Hard Drive space, 16-bit color,
800X600 display, 4 X CD-ROM, Soundcard.
MAC: PPC 8500/120, OS 8.0, 32 Mb RAM, 10 Mb Hard Drive space, 16-bit color, 800X600 display, 4 X CD-ROM, Stereo
||AU$12 - US$8 approx.
A Pokémon game on your PC? Officially? Surely it can't be true! Well it is. Though the definition of ‘game’
is stretched in this title. Who'd have thought that we'd actually be able to say ‘Pokémon’ and ‘Educational’
in the same sentence? I have heard several parents say they wanted an Educational Pokémon game for some
time now. The Learning Company has answered the call with this series of educational CD-ROMs. I'll be reviewing
the one with Psyduck on it. There are a total of ten CD-ROMs in the series. They are: Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle,
Pikachu, Meowth, Poliwhirl, Gengar, Eevee, Mewtwo, and of course Psyduck.
The CD is divided into two main parts, a memory type game, and the Pokémon Sanctuary (which itself is divided
into two parts).
The memory type game is a variation on the old game ‘memory’, with a mathematics twist. The idea of the game is
that you have to match up two tiles of the same value. In other words, a ‘13 + 2’ could match up with a ‘15’ tile
or a ‘5 X 3’ tile. If you get it wrong, they just flip over again. If you get it right, the two tiles disappear
and reveal part of the picture underneath. The game has five difficulty levels, from ‘Junior Trainer’ through to
As you can probably guess, the game is finished when you remove all the tiles and the picture is fully revealed.
Because I was playing the Psyduck version, the picture underneath was of Psyduck. There were six pictures in total,
3 in color, 3 in black and white. These can then be printed off later using the PC’s printer.
There was also a viewer button that would show a slide show of Psyduck pictures from the anime. These are shown
at about one quarter of the screen size and I'd guess there's about twenty pictures in total. They were shown in
random order so I never could get a true count.
The second half is the Sanctuary. Like I said earlier, this has two sections: A board game, and an Observatory.
While the main Memory game was one player, the board game can be played up to 4 human players.
Like the Memory game though, the board game has the five difficulty settings. A thing I did like about this is
that each player can set their own difficulty setting. This means that an older kid could challenge his or her
young sibling and the younger sibling would still have a chance of winning. At each turn, the player is asked a
general trivia question and is given a choice of four possible answers. The player simply clicks on their selection.
A right answer will move you forward a space, and a wrong answer will move you back a space.
Every now and then, one of the questions will be Pokémon related. Yep that's right, Pokémon related
stuff in a Pokémon product. Wonders never cease. After so many rounds, they go into the fast questions.
Here is where it can get a little frantic. Each player is assigned a key. A question will pop up, and then a series
of answers will be displayed in succession. The idea is to be the first player to press their key when the correct
answer is displayed.
Finally, the Observatory. Here you're presented with a panoramic view of the landscape. Move your mouse over it
and a section will light up. Click on it, and it'll say something like “Congratulations! You've found a Psyduck!”
Click again and you get to see the slide show from earlier again, though at a smaller size. This gets pretty old
The old phrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” comes into play once again in these CD's. Because I only had the Psyduck CD-ROM,
I could only ever find Psyduck in the sanctuary. The more CD's you get, the more Pokémon you can find on
Also, each CD-ROM has it's own set of questions for the Quiz Game. So the more you have installed, the bigger variety
of questions you have in the Game. All of the Sanctuary is stored on your PC so you can access it at any time,
providing you have one of the CD's in the drive at the time.
The graphics are nothing to write home about. They are simple, clear, and
suit the purpose, but nothing truly groundbreaking, or even slightly impressive. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty
of animation in the Memory Game, and the whole thing is nice to look at. There just isn't the animation in the
Sanctuary though and you can only really look at stills of Pokémon for so long.
Sound & Music
The sound actually really surprised me in this. There's an instrumental
version of the theme playing almost constantly. It's nice digitized audio too, not some MIDI garbage. The thing
that really got me though is Professor Oak. Yep, that's right, old Professor Oak makes a cameo on the CD's. There's
all new speech from the original voice artist too. Basically, Oak is your guide on the CD-ROM. He explains the
rules and tells you what to do next. He also praises you when you get a question right. Whenever he speaks his
little head pops in from the right. The face is animated rather simply; it makes even the anime look first class.
(I know, I know, I should have mentioned him in graphics or GamePlay, but I wanted to keep all the talk about Oak
in one spot, and his voice was the main thing so it's all gone here.) Professor Oak also guides you through the
Sanctuary. Another ‘character’ also makes a cameo – the announcer. He only says something when you start the Sanctuary
part though. Again, it's the original voice artist.
Time to mention the CD itself. This is not an ordinary CD-ROM (see picture above). Instead, its credit card sized
CD that fits neatly in the smaller section of your CD-ROM drive. If you don't know what I'm talking about, open
your CD-ROM drive now. You'll see a small circle depression in the center of the drive. That's how big the PokéROM
is. These make them that little bit cooler and a lot easier to transport.
One thing I cried out for from this CD is some animation of the Pokémon themselves. I would have loved it
if when you finished a puzzle, you got a fifteen second clip from the anime of the Pokémon you unveiled
(in this case Psyduck). All I wanted was fifteen seconds. Is that too much too ask? At the very least they could
have had a quote of the Pokémon from in the anime play when you finished the puzzle.
The printable pictures come out as full-page posters, complete with title and border. These are nice, clear, and
not too bad to display either. For added fun, you could print out the black and white pictures and get the kids
to color them in.
At first, you may think that the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” idea on these CD-ROMs is a nice idea, until you realize
that you're going to have to pay $120 for the entire set ($70 US)! If they were going to encourage this I would
have made the CD's half their price. But as it is, I doubt many would want to pay that price for the set for all
they are. I mean, you might get a couple, but after that they get a little repetitive.
As you may have guessed, these are all right for the younger Pokémaniacs amongst us, but the older ones
will want something more. The maximum difficulty is about Grade 6 mathematics.