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   Pokemon Colosseum - Review  

The Critters Go Marching 2 by 2
by Michael "CactuarJoe" Beckett

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy to Medium
COMPLETION TIME
30-50 hrs.
OVERALL

2.5/5

Rating definitions 

    Although it lacks the depth of its Game Boy counterparts, Pokemon Colosseum offers some unique and interesting challenges that should make it a worthwhile purchase for any fan of the series. However, due to the general lack of depth, Colosseum would not make a very good introduction to the world of Pokemon, and like most Pokemon games, will most certainly not change the mind of anyone who already knows how they feel about the series. Pokemon Colosseum is very firmly aimed at entrenched Pokemon fans, specifically those who have become bored with what the GBA Pokemon titles have to offer.

    Pokemon Colosseum has two modes; the first is Colosseum mode, which closely resembles the Pokemon Stadium games for the N64. It features six Colosseums, two of which must be unlocked, which can be completed in one-on-one or two-on-two matches. These battles range from the ridiculously easy to insanely difficult, and can prove a challenge to even the most accomplished trainer. Colosseum mode also features multi-player options and a special 100-match challenge. This mode rewards players for completing the often difficult challenges with PokeCoupons, which allow the player to buy rare items and berries that were previously unobtainable. It is odd, however, that the designers would choose to penalize the player for using the same Legendary creatures as their computer opponents. The other mode featured is Story Mode, which features a plot set in a previously unexplored region of the Pokemon world known as Orre.

    One of the unique things about Pokemon Colosseum in general, and the Orre region in particular, is that there are no wild Pokemon. Instead players are given the chance to "Snag", or steal, Pokemon from opposing Trainers. There is a hitch however; players may only snag Shadow Pokemon, which are described as Pokemon who have "had the door to their heart closed off." Technically, Shadow Pokemon are just normal critters who have had their moves deleted and their EXP meter sealed in order to gain the ability to attack humans. As the hero of the story, it is the player's job to steal these creatures back from their trainers and purify their hearts, reopening them to the influence of Trainers. This story does take the Pokemon world in a slightly darker direction - none of the other games dealt with such a serious and imminent bodily threat - but for the most part the tone is very similar to that of the earlier games in the series. No one is ever seriously injured, Pokemon do not die in battle but merely "faint", and despite the seriousness of the threat involved, humans never directly conflict. In fact, despite the thunderbolts and fireballs flying every which way during battles, the actual violence is surprisingly tame. This does make the story come off as more than just a little contrived, but this is hardly anything new to those who've played earlier Pokemon games.

Caption Colosseum is just about the only place to get Pokemon from G/S.

    The visuals of Pokemon Colosseum bring a new and interesting dimension to the Pokemon themselves with a higher level of detail and a surprising amount of attention put into the character models and animation. The various visual effects used throughout the game are well done, but the lack of variety in the animations undermines the overall effect. The game's style is slightly darker, slightly more punk than earlier Pokemon games. Whereas in Ruby and Sapphire the player faced off against Bug Catchers and Lasses, Colosseum pits the player against Bodybuilders, Peons, Chasers, and in one memorable battle, against a disco dancing Administrator with a giant multicolored afro. Again, this slight shift in style and presentation makes Pokemon a bit more accessible to older gamers, but in a game where the player can pit a pink bulldog in a dress against a small blue lungfish in a battle for domination, the only real prerequisite is the ability to leave common sense by the side of the road.

    Combat differs from the norm in that two-on-two matches, which were something of a gimmick in Ruby and Sapphire, are now the preferred method of battling. Two-on-two battles require a slight but important shift in tactics, as the player now has to think about the shared weaknesses of their Pokemon - releasing two Pokemon with the same weakness opens them up to a potentially devastating attack should the opposing Pokemon use a move they are both weak against. The game also differs by being genuinely difficult in places. Enemies are now more aware not only of the concept and interaction of elemental strengths and weaknesses, but also of the relative strengths in levels, defenses and method of attack, and will adjust their tactics accordingly. One thing the game does which is a measure of the increased difficulty, as well as a fairly cheap tactic by the programmers, is altering its initial combat lineup to better counter that of the player. While on the one hand it is nice to be challenged by a Pokemon game for a change, the designers should have found a better way to do it than by blatantly cheating.

Caption Transferring your hard-trained Pokemon opens up some interesting battles.

   The music of Pokemon Colosseum is a decided improvement upon that of earlier entries, both in sound quality and in quality of composition. There is a great variety of music in Pokemon Colosseum, ranging from acoustic Western-style guitar tracks to classical string to straight up Disco-boogie. The music doesn't always mesh perfectly with the onscreen action, but for the most part it isn't a bad soundtrack. The decidedly limited sound effects, on the other hand, are a fairly dull lot. Most of the Pokemon cries appear to have been lifted directly from the GBA and GBC games from which they originate, and so remain extremely mechanical-sounding. The music isn't a bad collection of ear candy, but the sound effects are a bit of a black mark on the overall sound.

   The interface is a bit of an improvement over previous Pokemon games. Although it does have a significant lag when bringing up the menu, the condensed menus and simplified field controls make it easy to learn and use. The translation is fair, but lacks some polish. The game is seriously contrived in more places than is really comfortable, which comes off as something of an insult towards the children this game is aimed at. It's as though Nintendo didn't think that they had to go very far with the plot simply because of the age group of their target audience. Overall the translation isn't horrible, but it's not the sort of thing which will earn Nintendo any awards.

    The combination of Story Mode and Colosseum Mode gives Pokemon Colosseum a leg up on the Stadium games, but in the end it suffers from the same problem - a general lack of depth. Pokemon Colosseum is by no means a poor game, but there are better RPGs on the market and better Pokemon games on the Game Boy Advance. In general, Pokemon Colosseum is for those gamers who have exhausted the possibilities of the GBA Pokemon titles and are looking for a new challenge.

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