Sometimes, a quick tune-up and polish is all you need to succeed. For Pokemon Battle Trozei on the 3DS, improving upon its DS predecessor is effortless. By adding new Pokemon elements and smoothly packing plenty of fresh objectives and gameplay mechanics, Battle Trozei fires on all cylinders from beginning to end — a rapid-fire test of agility and accuracy that rewards long combos and a high-score-setting determination. It’s hard not to get sucked into a vortex of resets and restarts, hoping each stroke of the stylus will be better than the last. Every dropped combo is an invitation to immediately try again. For a downloadable eShop title that rounds out to just under $8, Pokemon Battle Trozei has accomplished what most sequels fail to do time and time again: create an all-around better experience than the original for a lower price.

While my anticipation began upon hearing of a Pokemon Trozei! sequel, I was a bit concerned at first by the changing of a fundamental part of its predecessor’s design. Pokemon Trozei! on the Nintendo DS was a “match-three-or-more” puzzle game that forced players to slide pieces across a game board, the Trozei Box, on the second screen. Each piece resembled an individual Pokemon face and players were kept on their toes as they had to slide things around in advance to clear all the pieces in the end. Now, Battle Trozei allows players to drag and drop pieces wherever they please on the touch screen instead of moving the pieces as rows and columns.

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Despite this, the game quickly erased my worries. While dragging and dropping pieces makes smaller combos easier, it opens up opportunities to increase levels of points with matches of four, five, or more pieces. Longer combos means more points and more points mean a better score and unlocking new objectives or hidden parts of the stages. While the original Trozei! leveled you with huge amounts of pieces to clear, Battle Trozei is round after round of endurance challenges that will throw endless amounts of Pokemon  at you until you break.

If you don’t mess up — dropping a piece in the wrong place or not quickly enough — the sequel’s adventure brings new ways to bring your demise. Battle Trozei ditches the wonky villains and aged aesthetics for traversing a vibrant world of Pokemon in hopes of capturing them all — the true, original Pokemon dream! Every combo you finish garners more points, which ultimately translate into damage delivered unto wild Pokemon. Deal enough damage and they faint, followed by a successful Poke Ball throw and capture. The better you perform, the more opportunities you’ll get to nab stronger and rarer creatures. Fail, though, and you will have to ignite another combo or so while they batter down your game board’s health bar.

While it is sometimes unclear as to how you gain access to hidden ‘mons in a particular stage, the rule of thumb generally is “get as many points as you possibly can and hope for the best.” Battle Trozei serves up a few new tools to help you do this by way of adding Pokemon types and multiple Pokemon encounters. Every wild Pokemon you stumble upon is represented by one type — including dual types — and every new combo you start assumes the type of the piece you started the combo with. Utilizing type match-ups to land super effective combos — say, finishing a combo that starts with Water type Squirtle to capture a wild Charmander, a Fire type — drastically increases your point total. When you throw pairs or triplets of Pokemon into wild encounters, the potential for even more points becomes daunting.

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Completing each stage with an S grade and capturing all available Pokemon will likely be your toughest and longest test; setting higher and higher scores never seems impossible. Otherwise, the game is rather short, as each stage can be completed easily, so long as you’re not looking for optimization. Puzzle enthusiasts and arcade junkies will certainly be enthralled by this Pokemon spin-off’s charm, but casual players may quickly grow tired of the game’s simple nature at its lowest levels. Further, if setting new scores and capturing every last Pokemon isn’t your game, you won’t find much else outside this. For what is available in extras, they are largely overshadowed by the exceptional execution of the main gameplay — even the game’s trim multiplayer suite holds very little against Battle Trozei‘s campaign, where your best opponent is always yourself.

Battle Trozei is best played not in a car or on the bus, but on your couch, in bed, at your desk, etc. When you can trust that you can be still and focus on making the correct movements with each piece, you’ll find that the game has a lot to offer when presented with raw skill. It becomes hours of fun without breaking a sweat. Just as Trozei! hooked me before, Battle Trozei, too, has had hours sunk into it while further topping my expectations. And, of course, at only $7.99 on the 3DS eShop, it was practically a must-buy from the get-go. The original Pokemon Trozei!, mind you, released at full retail price.

While Pokemon spin-offs are known to flourish on both consoles and portable systems, like Pokemon Snap or the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, Pokemon Battle Trozei may only satisfy a select group of players. However, it pulls off a number of new ideas and pulls them off well. The campaign re-haul proved irreplaceable and, at its cheap eShop price, Battle Trozei is without a doubt a certain purchase for fans of the original and at least a try by new players. You’ll find at its roots a streamlined puzzle experience well worth its cost that may suck you in before you even know it.

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Written by William Martin


Pros:

  • -Fans of the original will fall in love once again
  • -Challenges are abundant and enticing
  • -Colorful, vibrant, and inviting
  • -Reasonable difficulty and learning curve
  • -High replay value
  • -Has more Pokemon elements than the original, feels more like a Pokemon game
  • -Worth the cost

Cons:

  • -Easy and quick to beat if high scores and optimization aren't your focus
  • -Not much of an actual story
  • -May get repetitive at a casual level
  • -Requirements to access hidden objectives mostly vague

Final Score:  8.5 / 10