Ninjas, pirates, and nuclear-radiated Pokemon; these are just some of the things you will encounter in the awesome, fan-made Pokemon Uranium. This game uses a lot of the mechanics from the core series, but with a few interesting things of its own.
The game starts like most Pokemon games do. You are a new trainer in the region of Tandor and are given the choice between 3 starters. However, even here at the beginning of the game, there was a cool mechanic added. Instead of just choosing your first Pokemon out-right, the professor asks you a series of questions to best match up a starter to your play style. Fire/ground for the aggressive players, water/electric for defensive, and grass/steel for explorers. (Protip #1: Unless you are just in-love with grass-type Pokemon, avoid the grass one at all costs! His starting moves are by far the weakest of the 3.) As in most Pokemon games, your rival will also receive a starter Pokemon and you will both set out on your journeys.
From the very start of your expedition into an uncharted land, you immediately notice that everything you encounter is new. That’s because the developers added over 150 brand new Pokemon. Each new addition seems very well thought out and expertly drawn. Some are pretty clever in their names and design; for instance, there is a water type Pokemon named Saidine that is a ninja-looking fish with an actual Sai for a tail. When the team says they spent over 9 years developing this game, it is easy to believe when you see all the cool, new looks making each new Pokemon feel lovable and unique. While playing through the game, it was refreshing to catch all new Pokemon and only see a few familiar ones. One the biggest gripes against the older games is that even though the roster usually lengthened, the first half of each game felt the same in catching things you already had in the previous versions. In Pokemon Uranium, coming across previously used Pokemon is rare and therefore feels more special; like seeing an old friend. (Protip #2: Change your team often! So many Pokemon types are in play that you will need to rotate your roster for certain battles, making the play-through more challenging than some in the core series.)
Speaking of which, as the title implies, it will not be long into the story before you come against a brand new type of Pokemon: Nuclear! It is easy to tell these Pokemon apart from their regular counterparts because they radiate green and black. (Protip #3: If you encounter a Nuclear Gyarados, try not to shit your pants.) Without any spoilers, Nuclear type Pokemon are very aggressive, so their new nuclear-moves are equally powerful, doing double damage to EVERYTHING. However, the draw back to the new type is that it too is double weak to EVERYTHING, except poison. It will take some mastery to know when it is appropriate to use a nuclear type. If you try to use all nuclear Pokemon, you will quickly learn that one strong opponent can wipe your whole team. (Protip #4: Don’t do that.) The new type is a welcome addition to the already long list of elements; but as stated, should be used wisely.
The game boasts 8 new gyms to defeat and badges to collect, with a number of worthwhile side-quests along the way. (Protip #5: Do all side quests if possible!) Also, as in every Pokemon game, there is a Victory Road to conquer after you complete what could be considered the main story. Pokemon games are also known for their minor puzzle solving techniques and mechanics. Most of the time it is done through skills or HMs that you gradually pick-up throughout the game (Strength, Cut, Surf, etc.), making you want to go back to previous areas to claim loot that had to be passed by early on.
Most surprisingly of all, even though this was a fan-made game, it still has a lot of the updated and online features that the newer versions have. Global/Wonder Trades, online battles with friends, doubles-battles, training sessions to beef up your Pokemon’s stats: all wonderful additions to this already great, stand-alone game. (Protip #6: Wonder Trade is only awesome maybe 1 out of 17 times, but it can be worth it with patience!)
The best part about this game? IT’S FREE! While Nintendo has officially ordered it taken down (Zeus knows why?!), the internet will always be the internet and downloads are available everywhere. This game will be a great play if you’re are a hard-core fan of the series, or someone getting back into the franchise. (Protip #7: Go find, download, and play this game… right NOW!)