The long awaited Pokemon Colosseum finally came to GameCube recently, but are the kids happy?
The latest instalment of the Pokemon legacy sees the return of 386 monsters which appear to have spawned from a drug junkie's dream. Compatible with Pokemon Sapphire/Ruby and the upcoming Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green this September, and boasting its own story mode, Pokemon Colosseum is literally bursting at the seams with the little critters, but with more monsters than you can shake a stick at, does the rest of the gameplay fall behind?
In the story mode, you play as a young man who seems to have a fondness of outlandish makeup and his two four-legged companions, Umbreon and Espeon. For some unknown reason, our hero decides to break into the place he was working at to steal a device which allows the user to "snag" other people's Pokemon. At this point I know I'm not the only one wondering why the hero of what's considered a game for younger audiences is a notorious criminal, yet not considered to be the bad guy.
The real evil is the sinister organisation that's pumping out Shadow Pokemon from its laboratories. These Shadow Pokemon have no heart or sense of control, and will use their brute strength to wipe out anything they want, including their own trainers. A girl who the hero rescues near the beginning of the game somehow has the ability to see the dark aura that these Pokemon emit, and so sets off with our thief to steal them all so the true enemy can't endanger the world - and the only way to do this is by opening the door to the Pokemon's hearts.
This is a huge change from the original Game Boy versions, where stealing Pokemon is a serious taboo, and where you start out as a rookie instead of the already established trainer that appears in Colosseum - although the continuing battles to strengthen your team and progress through the game are still there. Thank God for save points...
If all the fights in the Story Mode aren't enough for you, there is also a Battle Mode where you can use the Pokemon you've caught from the story mode, or even connect your GBA and play with one of your GBA teams. If you haven't got enough Pokemon for a team and you haven't got a Pokemon game on the GBA, then there's always the "Battle Now" option which will randomly select a team of Pokemon for you to use and battle with.
When you have an established team, the battling world becomes your oyster with a large host of different battle options, including "Mt. Battle Vs 100" which puts you up against 100 trainers in a row. If you weren't sick of the battles before, you will be now. One of the best features is probably the two player battles, where you invite your old 2D GBA teams into the beautiful world of 3D and show off to your friends what you're really made of.
The battles themselves are a lot more complicated than they sound; you have to take into consideration the Pokemon's attributes and types as well as their level and surroundings. They're a strategist's dream, but if you have a lack of patience then I advise you to steer clear...
Despite the sheer volume of Pokemon, the 3D detail and essence of each one is gloriously in tact. Although they are not outstandingly good, the cel-shaded graphics do the job well, and the attack animations should just about meet a graphic whore's standards.
The music is pleasant to the ear at first, but after a good hour of listening to the battle music there will be a desperate struggle to find the remote and press the mute button for the remainder of the game. The Musicians followed the simplistic trend of the GBA game music, only mixing it up a little to give it a bit more depth.
With so many Pokemon it's no wonder that the game comes with its own 59 block memory card, of which 48 blocks are used for Colosseum. Another thing the game is lacking is a good tutorial about the concept of Pokemon, something along the lines of a short intro like at the beginning of the GBA versions would help make the learning curve a little less steep for those who are new to the Pokemon phenomenon [or too scared to even approach it - Ad]. The gameplay itself is fairly easy to pick up with standard controls and a choice of menus when battling, and the simplistic controls are a complete contrast to the strategy behind the battles themselves.
I have one other complaint to make, and that is the lack of minigames. The old Pokemon Stadium games for the N64 had an adorable assortment of minigames such as making a Likitung eat as much as it could at a sushi bar, as a break from the gym battles. I was incredibly disappointed when I discovered that there would be no such recluse in Colosseum, although the addition of the story mode made up for that.
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E3 2003 trailer - low quality