Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is a spin-off title that differs vastly from other games in the series; a spin-off that can’t hold a candle to the Main Series.
The game has a continuing story that spans everything you do in the game. You start at Ranger School doing tasks, graduating, and getting a “Partner Pokemon” that basically follows you at all times and is pretty much dead-weight as it has no redeeming abilities. You are assigned missions and can take optional quests as well. A Pokemon Ranger basically caters to the “whims” of the citizens and helps them with whatever problem they have.
This game really isn’t about Pokemon directly. It’s more of playing animal control ranger and using Pokemon to do mundane tasks. The Pokemon could be replaced with actual tools or plain animals, and it would all work the same. The game’s main gist is to stop the criminal team of the region (Team Dim Sun, in this case) from using Pokemon for their evil deeds. By drawing circles, Ahem. The game’s overall story is pretty flat and routine, not interesting, and most of the characters are fairly one-dimensional. There is nothing special here.
This is where it starts to fall apart. If you a newcomer to the series like me you probably won’t see a problem till the end where the mechanic starts to just be annoying. You can’t imagine how it feels if you’ve already played the other two games in the series. But that’s not to say the circling capture mechanic was bad, it just grew boring when they didn’t incorporate many new ideas.
Sure there are lulls in the story where you can go do some quests. But ranger built-in time, where you would be asked to go out and patrol. You could advance the story at any time, or go do some quests. This game also made me want to capture Pokémon.