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Pokemon on the Cube done right
When Nintendo announced that there would be a Pokemon game for the Cube, I know (before I found out more details) that I was expecting a game in the similar vein of the Nintendo 64 Pokemon Stadium releases. However, much to my delight, Nintendo finally gave the loyal fans of Pokemon what they have been wanting: A RPG version of Pokemon on their major console system, the Gamecube. Not only that, but they also brought a game that uses the connectivity between the GBA and the GC in one of the most useful ways to date. And of course, they left in such options as simple battle modes and tournaments that resemble options from the original Pokemon Stadiums. But let’s start from the top and work our way down with Pokemon Colosseum.
First off, this game departs from most Pokemon games in a big way: a new developer. Usually Game Freak is the company behind these games, but for the console version Nintendo gave the reigns to a company called Genius Sonority. I was a bit wary of this at first, because as we all know, sometimes a new company with an established franchise can lead to results that are very disastrous. This is not the case here, as after playing both Story and Battle modes, you know that this holds true to what a Pokemon game is, while adding more content in exciting new ways. So let’s start off with the battle system. The first unique part of Pokemon Colosseum is that all battles in the Story mode are two-on-two, a concept that was very briefly introduced in the Ruby/Sapphire games for the GBA. This definitely creates all new strategies that you can try out depending on what two Pokemon you have out there at any given time. In the Battle mode; of course, you can play in either classic one-on-one style or in a double battling system. But basically, the same rules apply. You have items that can be used in battle, outside of battle, or held by your Pokemon. It’s just like the GBA battling scheme, with the exception of one major difference. In Pokemon Colosseum there are no wild Pokemon encounters. Each and every battle in the story mode will be with an opposing trainer. So you must be asking yourself: How do I get Pokemon for my team then?! Well, for the first time ever, you are now required to “snag” your enemies “shadow” Pokemon. You still use the same line of pokeballs as usual, but now you use them through a special device that allows for the snagging of these shadow Pokemon.
So what is a shadow Pokemon? Well in the region of Orre there are your usual nefarious villains who want to use Pokemon as a means to dominate things. As the main character you are a now reformed member of your new foes, Team Snagem. Just before blowing their joint, you steal their machine that has enabled them to capture other trainers Pokemon. With this machine you are on a mission, with your female red-headed sidekick, to recover all the shadow Pokemon in Orre, 48 in all, and then purify them by using them and opening up their hearts. Since your female counterpart is the only person who can see shadow Pokemon, she is a necessity to the game. So, yeah, in short the story isn’t the best, but in comparison to the storylines on the GBA versions this is a huge step in the right direction for Pokemon fans. We actually get characters that have a little bit of depth to them, and some surprises along the way that may catch you off guard. And when you realize that in addition to the story mode, you get a battle mode as well, you really can’t complain. Pokemon Colosseum delivers in terms of story and game play for a Pokemon game as you would expect it too.
Visually Pokemon Colosseum is gorgeous. Everything is crisp and bright. What impresses you the most, as you might expect, is seeing your favorite Pokemon in 3-D on the Gamecube. Every Pokemon is very good looking, and definitely uses the Cube’s power to its fullest. The environments are equally as good. The stadiums you battle in are beautifully done, and have a lot of detail to be appreciated. What impressed me even more was the attention and detail given to the population or Orre. The people you meet in various towns, and both friendly and unfriendly enemy trainers have their own look to them and it really helps bring the game to life even more. Overall, there is little room to complain about the visuals in Pokemon Colosseum, as it is by far the strongest part of the entire game. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for sound. While the battle and town themes are decent, there is one glaring problem with the sound. We are still being given the same Pokemon “sounds” or “cries” that we have gotten since the day Pokemon came out with Red and Blue. Instead of having sounds from the animated series for the Pokemon, we are instead given the same old sounds we have had for every handheld release to date. There really is no excuse for that that way I see it. It is obvious that with the technology we have today with a system like the Gamecube, that we could have had more realistic sounds to go with the visuals. What it boils down to is laziness on the part of Nintendo and the new developers, Genius Sonority. Luckily, this is the only true weak point to Pokemon Colosseum, and in the grand scheme of things it does not detract from the gaming experience in a huge way.
Pokemon Colosseum does bring some originality to a series that has become one of Nintendo’s stalwarts in recent years. The exclusive use of two-on-two battling throughout the game, and the new concept of snagging opponents Pokemon and then purifying them to use them without limitations in battle are refreshing to a Pokemon veteran. The inclusion of a both a story and battle mode “battle tower” also helps give the game more replay value. And of course the separate battle mode is always fun for those who don’t feel like playing the story mode at the moment. However, when it comes to originality, Pokemon delivers in terms of connectivity with the GBA and your Ruby or Sapphire cart. Once you beat the game, you are now allowed to trade Pokemon from your story mode Colosseum team and your GBA team. This is great news for Pokemon fans, because in Pokemon Colosseum you catch many Pokemon that were only found in Gold and Silver, and thus not available in the Ruby or Sapphire. Many Pokemon fans will delight in being able to have a Tyranitar or a Houndoom on their carts to use while battling their friends. This also makes it possible for those fanatical collectors whose ambition is to have every single Pokemon. Of course, no one will be able to get every single Pokemon until the releases of Fire Red and Leaf Green, which will allow you access too many of the first generation Pokemon that did not make the cut for the first GBA games or Pokemon Colosseum.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the multi-player features of Pokemon Colosseum. Allowing up to 4 friends to battle at once in a two-on-two setting is something we have never seen before, and it is a good selling point for those of us with friends who also enjoy the Pokemon series. In the end, Pokemon Colosseum is no more challenging than any other Pokemon game. But the fan factor remains the same, while adding some cool new features to the Pokemon world. If you’re a Pokemon fan, than you’ll be glued to your Cube until you get everything you can in this game, because it is very fun, and very addicting. If you are not a Pokemon fan, then this game probably isn’t for you if you’re interesting in getting started with the series. Regardless, it is a fun game play experience, and by providing you with anywhere from 30 to 50 hours of play it is more than worth your money.
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