CJ: I cannot idly stand by while this once-great series is turned into a toddler-only playland sideshow. Seriously, Nintendo needs to stop making Pokémon spin-offs aimed at babies (see: Pokémon Snap and Hey You, Pikachu! for Nintendo 64). Channel is the worst offender yet; it’s a simplistic bore of a “game” where you watch Pikachu as he watches channel after uninteresting channel of virtual Pokémon programming over and over. Or, should you tire of the game’s “watch as much TV and buy as many Pokémon products as humanly possible” concept, you can also fiddle around with a virtual Pokémon Mini game system or watch Pikachu cavort around your house and the surrounding areas. But none of that is much fun either.
My question is, who is this game for? Its main attraction is a Pichu Bros. animated short (that you have to watch over and over) clearly made to enchant kids ages 3 to 5. But then, Channel’s got a lot of text and directions those tots won’t get, and anyone older will avoid it because it’s a baby game. Maybe I’m being too hard on it, but I’d cancel my cable if this Channel came on.
MARK: The Bible was wrong. Hell does not look like a giant lake of fire. Hell looks like Smoochum Shape-Up, a typical program from Pokémon Channel, where you watch a Pillsbury Doughboy in drag grind through hip-slimming aerobics while uttering high-pitched squeals. Unlike Pokémon Snap or Pinball, Channel isn’t...well it’s not really a game. Playing catch with Pikachu or guessing which Pokémon is behind a curtain is about as interactive as it gets; mostly, you just collect Pokécrap and watch Pikachu watch insanely repetitive, horrifically annoying TV. Do not buy this for yourself or your kids or anyone you know—you do not ever want to be in a room where it’s being played.
GAMENOW—PHIL: Here’s the deal with Channel—it’s not really a game, per se. It’s more of a virtual pet crossed with one of those “edutainment” PC deals (like Humongous’ Putt-Putt or Pajama Sam titles). Any Pokémon fan over the age of 5 will quickly become very bored, but it’s a decent game for parents to play with their small children (tykes will need help with all the reading). The various diversions here are cute, slickly produced, and entertaining, assuming you really, really dig Pokémon.
Good: Pikachu’s a cute li’l bastard
Bad: Watching the Pichu Bros. animated short over and over
Use to: Keep little brother busy while you play something else
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.