Pokemon Colosseum: A Quick Review by TR Rose
Official Gyms don't exist any more, and the Elite Four battles seem to be a thing of the past. You can still train in organized areas (like the Pre Gym), but you won't receive a Badge for winning. Mount Battle seems to be the only real training spot in the game, with 100 trainers waiting to fight you. Pokemon Centers exist in the 'nicer' towns, but staying in a seedy hotel is your only choice for healing up in some of the more run-down towns (and these aren't free). Decent trainers will wait for you to ask them for a battle, but some of the tougher customers will attack you on sight - from within towns. All battles are now 2-on-2, which allows for some nice combos.
In the earlier Pokemon games, criminal organizations like Teams Rocket, Aqua, and Magma run underground networks of crime, rarely venturing into the open unless they're concocting a scheme (like taking over the Radio Tower, or provoking a Legendary like Kyogre or Groudon). Here, lawlessness runs rampant. Entire cities are run by criminals, and police are few and far between. Cipher members kidnap the city leaders' beloved Pokemon, insuring the baddies are able to do as they please.
The typical "Pokemon Stadium" mode is available as well for players who want to match their Ruby/Sapphire or FireRed/LeafGreen critters against an opponent. Story Mode Pokemon can be used as well, and there are several different Colosseums to battle in (Pyrite's looks eerily similar to the "Two men enter, one man leaves" stadium of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome). Of course, even the Stadium Mode has its improvements. First off, you can see your character and the trainer you're fighting against (this is true for Story Mode as well), and you can choose between single and double battles. The Pokemon themselves look better than ever before. The attacks are more impressive looking, and even older moves like Surf and Acid have been given a makeover, making them look more realistic. The character design of the older Pokemon is the same as the two Stadiums, but the animations are nicer - in particular, Koffing and Muk look more toxic than ever before. All of the Pokemon react during the battles (Zigzagoon scampers between the trainer's legs, and Ludicolo literally dances the whole time, adjusting his sombrero when he gets hit). They also have better "fainting" animations (Kirlia's dramatics are terrific). Best of all, the annoying announcer (Tracey) is long gone ("They're staring each other down! The trainer hasn't issued an order! What's the matter, trainer?")
Overall, Pokemon Colosseum's Story Mode has a sinister feel to it, and actually plays as a serious RPG. The control and camera views remind me more of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time than a Pokemon game. The music is orchestral, yet there are a few familiar Pokemon touches (the creatures' cries are the same, as are the "healing up" sound effects). The 3D views of the Pokemon (and trainers) are impressive, and a lot of the original games' down-time has been eliminated. Unfortunately, many of the more popular Pokemon aren't Snaggable, and the ones that are can be difficult to catch (I had to reset my game 7 times to get Suicune). On the other hand, this forces players to train and use Pokemon that otherwise sat, forgotten, in their PC Boxes. In order to complete the game, you have to catch, train, and purify all 48 Shadow Pokemon, and many of these are creatures I never played with in other versions.
The real prize, and your ultimate goal, is to catch Ho-oh. But since this Legendary is wild and free, it won't be caught like a normal Pokemon. Instead, you must purify all 48 Shadow Pokemon, and complete the Mt. Battle challenge outside of Story Mode with creatures you purified or traded over. That's 100 trainers in a row, and you can't switch your team mid-way.
Pros & Cons
+ The first 10 hours aren't spent wandering around the forest with a lv. 5 starter, a lv. 2 Pidgey, and a lv. 3 Rattata
+ Quick travel between cities (no more forests!) - No need to Surf, Fly, Cut, etc.
+ Can get Legendaries fairly early
+ Captured Pokemon know good moves (including TM moves) right away, and are at higher levels than usual
+ Start off with the two hardest-to-get Eeveelutions
+ All Shadow PKMN start w/ Shadow Rush, an infinite-PP Take Down attack that is neither strong nor weak to any type
+ To get additional moves, you have to "open the door to the Pokemon's
heart", which takes time and training
+ Most Pokemon start at 2nd Evolution, or close to evolving
+ Able to trade with Ruby/Sapphire and FireRed/LeafGreen, and bring
new items like the rare Berries
+ The only way to get many of Johto's Pokemon in the Advance generation
of GB games.
Would I recommend this game? Absolutely. If you've ever enjoyed a Pokemon game before, then you'll be enthralled by this one. If you've never tried Pokemon GB games, this is better than any of the previous versions. Hardcore Poke-fans will need to purify the Shadow Pokemon to complete their National Pokedexes. And besides, the jacket-cape-wearing renegade "hero" trainer is too cool. This one's well worth the money.