A Trip Through Pokémon Black And White's Online Dream World

With the Pokémon Global Link service, Pokémon Black and White players can sync their game data with their PC and enter a magical world that exists in the dreams of pocket monsters. Join me on my first trip to this Pokémon Dream World.

I haven't played much Pokémon Black since I picked it up on launch day last month. I raised my squad to the mid-teens, scored a pair of Gym badges, and spent several hours trying to capture the elusive legendary Pokémon Victini. I honestly had no idea how to connect to the Dream World, let alone explore it. Lucky for me that Pokémon Company's J.C. Smith and Nintendo of America's Joel Simon were willing to give me the guided tour.

The first steps to entering the Dream World are setting up an account on the Global Link website, creating a Global Link ID number and syncing your game with the Global Link servers. This is easily accomplished by access the C-Gear on the bottom screen of your Pokémon Black or White game. My tour guides warned me that the ID number was unique not only to my copy of the game, but the system I was playing it on, so one needs to make sure they are playing on their own DS when connecting.

Once these administrative duties are taken care of, you need to put one of your Pokémon to sleep. My guides call it tucking a Pokémon in, which I have to admit sounds a great deal more humane. Any Pokémon from the in-game storage system can be laid to rest (sorry). Once that's taken care of, you can log into their Dream World via the Global Link site.

The Dream World is a colorful cartoon world with many different activities aimed at extending the player's Pokémon experience beyond the game. There's a garden where players can grow berries, a feature purposefully left out of the Black and White versions of the game. Berries act as currency in the Dream World, used to purchase furniture to decorate your Pokémon's dream house. Players can visit their friends' dream houses, exchanging items via a share shelf. It's a place where the more social aspects of the Pokémon series can flourish.

It's also a place to obtain rare items and Pokémon not obtainable anywhere else.

With each visit to the Dream World, players get ten turns to explore the island of dreams. Arrows transition between forest scenes, populated with trees and bushes that hold many secrets. Should a bit of foliage sparkle, that means a rare item is inside. Should it shake, there's a rare Pokémon hiding within.

The Pokémon encountered in Dream World may look like normal, everyday pocket monsters, but they'll have access to skills that they've never been able to use in previous iterations of the game. For the serious Pokémon battler, the element of surprise alone would be a serious advantage, which is likely why this year's Pokémon Video Game Championships limits teams to Pokémon encountered in the new Unova Region.

When you encounter a Pokémon in the Dream World they will challenge you to a mini-game. Perform well, and they will befriend you, giving you the ability to bring them into your Black and White game. There is a catch to catching them all, however. No matter how many new Pokémon populate the friend board in your dream house, you can only export them one at a time. While this wouldn't be an issue if you could go in and out of the Dream World at will, but players are limited to one hour-long visit every 24 hours. That's one bonus Pokémon a day.

As I write this I am staring at the Global Link website. I have another hour before I can log back in. Needless to say, it's a little addictive.

Once you've returned from the Dream World you can warp to a special area of Black and White using your C-Gear, capture your new Pokémon friend with a Dream Ball, and it's your slave until the end of time.

[gallery 5794839] The Pokémon Dream World is a rather innovative way to extend the Pokémon experience beyond the confines of your dual-screened Nintendo handheld. It's an entertaining diversion that should prove fruitful to fans whether or not they choose to become berry farmers. The time limit is a bit harsh, but there's plenty of other features to explore on the Global Link website while you're waiting out the countdown timer, including customizing your game screens with new wallpapers, vying for a spot on the global leaderboards, and sending simple email messages to your Global Link friends.

It's an all-new way to play Pokémon, and it's only just begun.