I feel like doing something a little different, so I'm going to start a screenshot Let's Play series of Pokemon ripoffs and also-rans for the GBC and GBA. I say those systems specifically because those were Pokemon's original hunting grounds, and where most of the imitators made their homes as well; only Digimon, Monster Rancher, and Dragon Quest Monsters really survived into the DS and 3DS era, though a few (like Dinosaur King, Spectrobes, and Fossil Fighters) were created during that period. But DS games are kind of a pain to emulate so maybe shut up.
First up is probably the most blatant imitator, Robopon. Specifically, Robopon 2, which admittedly is very different from Pokemon in ways that usually aren't very cool; the original was about as close to Pokemon as they were legally allowed to be. Anyway, Robopon are all robots, and yet they seem to live in the wild or at least in caves and dungeons for some reason.
This entry's going to be a little sparse since I barely took notes or screenshots through the first few areas. Suffice it to say, you play the same character as in the original game, and you just won some national Robopon championship. You're invited to a big global tournament but you're a goddamn idiot and forget all your Robopon at home.
From what I can tell your task is to defeat contenders and collect their hidden X-Stones in order to advance in the national rankings. This isn't really spelled out for you, at least not very well -- at first I thought you only fought the first bad guy because he was being a dick.
The way Robopon fight and are acquired is unique relative to other 'Mon type games -- you combine batteries of various types to get Robopon, batteries being found in hidden places or acquired by battling. Robopon fight 4-on-4 and the fights are similar to, say, Dragon Warrior/Quest 3, or Final Fantasy IV without the action bar. They also don't evolve automatically -- they just become eligible for upgrades once they reach a certain level, and upgrading is a double edged sword and good god people say Pokemon is complicated.
Around his time I started to wonder if this game was making fun of me. And don't get me wrong -- I don't like the game, but the writing is surprisingly self-aware. They clearly knew nobody gave a crap about Robopon or recognized how ridiculous the game was, and they went wild with half-decent original jokes and 2002-vintage pop culture references.
Basically the first thing you do is go to a festival. You have to talk to everyone there before you continue: yippee. You get a free Robopon from talking to the Fortune Teller; I don't know if this is the same in every game, or even every Cross Version, but for me it was Train, the train Robopon
I'm still using this dude, along with the rocky starter Robopon SunZero, the sumo Robopon Sumito, and the cell phone Robopon Tokbot.
This seems as good a time as any to get into Robopon types, classes, and oil types. There are three types of Robopon: Boot, Move, and Arm. Classes mostly determine what parts a Robopon can equip and what moves it learns naturally (moves can also be taught via software, with exceptions noted in this next sentence). Boot types are hard-hitting and sturdy, but can't equip parts or learn new moves from software. Arm types tend to skew more average, stat-wise, and their abilities largely depend on their class, which can range from Knight to Healer to Gunner. Typically they have the most EP (this game's version of MP) and the most natural skills. Move types are speedy and are mostly based on vehicles like bikes, cars, planes, boats, and (duh) trains.
Oil types affect which Robopon are targeted by multiple-target healing skills
Anyway, I'm getting off track. I had some computer trouble when I was playing through this next part, so I don't have any screenshots, but suffice it to say it was tedious and unintuitive as crap. You have to defeat the #7 contender Maskman, a fake pharaoh who lives n Egyptian ruins and attacks the nearby towns for laughs. He's a relatively funny pathetic bad guy, but the puzzles in his dungeon are idiotic. Oh, and at one point you have to resort to time travel in order to make a tornado disappear. And while I haven't played too much further from this point, time travel seems to be a recurring element.
Incidentally, there's a recurring villain who is probably going to be the final boss or something: This guy, Dr. Zero. He was the final boss of the last game and had a cameo in the prologue; apparently he still hates you for taking his place as champion, and he's enlisted his brother to help make your life suck.
Later you're infiltrating the next contender's evil circus, and I hate to gloss over this part too but it's REALLY dull. There's also an ungodly amount of backtracking. You have to go back in time to rescue a kidnapped kappa from a nearby enchanted forest (er, the forest is where the kappa is from, you rescue him from the circus), and on the way you run into this.
Luckily I'm not actually done with this part so I'll have more on this later.
Next time: More info on my Robopon! More substantial plot details and more screenshots! Information on what combat actually look like! Brief explorations of items and parts!