After spending three hours with Pokémon Dream Radar, I can thoroughly report that it more closely resembles a tech demo than a video game. And if spending that much time with a glorified tech demo doesn’t sound appealing, hopefully the prospect of receiving a handful of legendary Pokémon does, because that’s the true purpose of this product. It plays almost entirely with the Nintendo 3DS’ augmented reality functions, tasking players with collecting orbs and catching Pokémon using the forward-facing camera of the handheld. It’s a novel prospect for the first few rounds but it quickly becomes clear that’s all it is: a novelty. Regardless of my Pokémon fandom, the hours I spent playing this purchasable object resulted in little more than a dreadfully boring grind… and legendary Pokémon.
Assuming the role of a research assistant for Professor Burnet, players assist her in exploring the Interdream Zone. This zone is viewable only through the front-facing cameras of the 3DS and is populated with Dream Clouds. Players shoot a laser at the clouds, busting them to reveal Dream Orbs, Pokémon, and rarely, legendary Pokémon. As the Dream Orbs are collected, qualities of the laser can be improved but the changes aren’t what I’d call material or worthwhile. They’re merely goals instituted to act as distractions, something to pacify players in the middle of a long grind; which, I should mention, can’t occur in a single three hour period as the Dream Clouds take time to regenerate. They can be replenished using the system’s Play Coins, but only three times per day.
Collecting enough Dream Orbs for the Professor grants the ability to capture three legendary Pokémon. Each showdown takes place roughly an hour (in-game) apart and presents the player with more of a challenge than capturing the common Pokémon. The “fights” consist of the player trying to remain locked onto an orb and mashing the A button until a capture meter has filled, which normally isn’t too difficult. When attempting to catch a legendary Pokémon, that same process can turn into a minutes-long affair that may have the player spinning around and frantically trying to locate the desired orb, which I’m told, looks quite dumb.
On a technical level, Pokémon Dream Radar is sound. The developer, Creatures, released little more than a glorified tech demo, but it accurately and effectively touted the augmented reality features of the 3DS. Only twice did I run into issues with the Dream Clouds not being level with my perspective at which point I put the 3DS down and they realigned properly. Regarding enjoyment however, I found little with this spin-off. The novelty wore off quickly and soon devolved into a weeks-long chore spread across many twenty minute sessions. Still, the payoff for me came in the form of legendary Pokémon and I’m happy about that. I can’t recommend this title to others but would ask anyone curious a spin on the classic Klondike bar marketing slogan: what would you do for a legendary Pokémon?