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Review: 'Pokémon Visual Companion' impresses

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"Pokémon Visual Companion"

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It's hard to believe that "Pokémon" red version came out for the Nintendo Game Boy back in 1998. It's been 15 years since the animated series made its television debut in North America, and it has lasted longer than most other shows with the exception of "The Simpsons" and "Dr. Who." Did you know that through all that time Ash Ketchum has only worn four different pairs of pants? You can see his change in fashion and style, learn about all the equipment a "Pokémon" trainer users, and much more in DK Publishing's "Pokémon Visual Companion."

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This fully colored 208 page hard covered book features a good mix of information about all the popular characters, famous battles, and important places in the "Pokémon" universe. It touches upon the entire history of the show and explores every region, all the way up through Unova in a way that allows you to follow Ash's adventures from beginning to present, along with many friendships and rivalries.

The "Pokémon Visual Companion" is sorted into seven chapters, the first of which is "The World of Pokémon" that details Ash and his "Pokémon," what a "Pokémon" trainer is, essential gear trainers need, how "Pokémon" communicate, and much more. You'll learn how to catch a "Pokémon" (if you didn't know already), and the many different types of Pokémon balls used to do so, among a plethora of other neat factoids. Did you know that some characters, such as Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny have relatives all named the same that work in the same occupation? There's also some really interesting graphics in the "Pokémon Visual Companion," such as a chart that details the size of Ash compared to many other "Pokémon."

The other chapters are separated by region ( Kanto, Orange Islands, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova), with information about the major characters we meet (like Professor Oak), places we go, and events that take place as we follow Ash's epic journey. One of the book's best features is its comprehensive gym battle guide, which details all the gyms and the Pokémon battles. Every gym fight between "Pokémon" lists who fought against each other and the result of the match, in an easy to follow timeline. There's also two-page spreads that look like front page newspaper appearing in each chapter, highlighting some of the more memorable events that happened. Each Legendary "Pokémon" receives a special treatment, with a half page of space devoted to their picture and paragraph or two about them. Unfortunately that's much more than the rest of the "Pokémon" have.

At the end of each chapter there's an index of "Pokémon" discovered in that region. The "Pokémon" are in alphabetical order, however this layout does present a small problem to those who don't know every "Pokémon." The "Pokémon Visual Companion" doesn't provide any indication to readers on the order of evolution within the index. While most fans know that Charmander evolves into Charmeleon and then Charizard, some readers might not know more obscure "Pokémon." The index feels more like a list than detailed guide. The "Pokémon" are 20 to a page, with only their name, a small one inch picture, their height and weight, along with the type of "Pokémon." The signature moves and abilities aren't listed. Some "Pokémon" characters like Pikachu play such a large role in the series that it boggles us why a whole one or two page spread wasn't devoted to them. Thankfully there's an index at the end of the "Pokémon Visual Companion" which lists the page number of every mention throughout the book.

DK Publishing's "Pokémon Visual Companion" is like a travel guide highlighting reasons to visit the popular animated series. It's packed with a plethora of facts and events about the show and Pokémon universe, however it is my no means a complete episode guide or encyclopedia. The "Pokémon Visual Companion" eschews detailed descriptions of events, opting for snippets of information that'll wet your appetite and leave you craving to re-watch the entire series from the beginning and play all of the games again. If you're a or fan of the television show, collectible card game, or video games, then the "Pokémon Visual Companion" is a must have for an adventurer who's "gotta catch 'em all."

Positives:

  • Hard cover book with 208 pages filled with colorful images of every character and "Pokémon."
  • Detailed gym guide lists all the major battles throughout the show, so you know where every badge came from.
  • Plethora of factoids to memorize.

Negatives:

  • Odd layout and lack of extensive details about every "Pokémon."
  • Some of the images are a little blurry and even pixelated.

The "Pokémon Visual Companion" has an MSRP of $16.99 and is available here from DK.com, however as of the publication date of this review it is currently on sale for $10.16 at Amazon.com making it an absolute steal as a holiday gift to yourself or a loved one.

For more information about "Pokémon" visit www.pokemon.com.

Please note this review was based off a free copy of the book provided to us by DK Publishing.

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