Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (ポケモンレンジャー バトナージ Pokemon Renjā Batonāji, “Pokémon Ranger: Vatonage”) is an action role-playing video game developed by Creatures Inc., published by The Pokémon Company and distributed by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS video game console.
It was announced in the January 2008 issue of CoroCoro and was released in Japan on March 20, 2008. It was announced at E3 2008 that the game would be released in the United States under the title Shadows of Almia on November 10, 2008. It was announced on September 25 that the game would be released in Europe under the title Shadows of Almia on November 21, 2008. It was released on the European Wii U Virtual Console on June 9, 2016, and was released on the North American Wii U Virtual Console on August 4, 2016.
The game features 270 Pokémon, including new Pokémon which were not featured in the original Pokémon Ranger, from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The game utilizes the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to download new missions.
The game takes place in the Almia region. The player begins as a Pokémon ranger-in-training at the Ranger School and quickly graduates to a rookie Ranger and must advance from there. The player may choose their character’s gender, but unlike in the original Pokémon Ranger, this choice does not affect their partner Pokémon.
Much of the gameplay is similar to the original game. Players must capture/befriend wild Pokémon to aid them by circling them with their Nintendo DS stylus (known as a Capture Styler in the game).
There is a major change from the original capture method. Instead of having to complete certain number of loops without lifting the stylus, the player must fill up a Pokémon’s Friendship Gauge by drawing loops around the Pokémon, but can lift the stylus to avoid attacks. However, the power in Friendship Gauge will decrease over time if the player stops drawing loops for too long. The amount of power in the gauge filled by each loop increases as the player levels up the styler.
Shadows of Almia also introduces Quests, which are mini-missions not essential to the plot that involve the player completing requests from Almia citizens, earning new partner Pokémon and power-ups (such as resistance to attacks or longer capture lines) for their styler as rewards.
Unlike the original, Shadows of Almia allows the player to choose their partner Pokémon. In the previous game, the partner was decided based on the players chosen gender (Minun for male, Plusle for female). Players start with either Pachirisu, Munchlax, or Starly, and the other 14 partners (as well as the two partners that were not chosen at the beginning) are obtainable either through sub-quests or in-game events, and once captured, can be switched to be the player’s partner at any time. There are 17 possible partners, one for each of the Pokémon types that existed at the time.
Shadows of Almia also includes 4 different types of stylers: the School, Capture, Fine and Vatonage stylers. The School styler is a simplified version of the capture styler, while the Fine Styler has a charge feature (which can be upgraded) which activates when the styler is held down, increasing the amount of feelings conveyed to the Pokémon and enabling quicker captures. The Vatonage styler is a unique Fine Styler that can capture Team Dim Sun’s Pokémon instead of merely releasing them.