Pokémon Colosseum - Review

A Small Step In The Right Direction
By: Derek Cavin

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interaction 3
   Originality 2
   Story 2
   Music & Sound 3
   Visuals 4
   Challenge Easy-Medium
   Completion Time 20-40 hours  

2 on 2 battles in 3D
2 on 2 battles in 3D
Pokémon Colosseum
After two less-than-noteworthy Pokémon Stadiums, which primarily consisted of battling and more battling in 3D, they decided to make an improved version that contained not only a better battle system based off of Ruby/Sapphire, but a story as well. Pokémon Colosseum is certainly a step in the right direction for 3D Pokémon games. The story, though it may be minimal, is based on an ex-member of a team that steals Pokémon and uses them for evil, and the hero's quest against them.

After so many versions, each with their own small improvements, the battle system has become top-notch, especially since enemies have the same experience level as the player in most of the game's challenges. This forces players to rely on strategy rather than simply overpowering the opposition. Another nice improvement is the AI, which will actually use intelligent actions or pre-defined strategies to defeat the player. Most of the battles are two versus two, a feature that allows far more strategy and planning. Each Pokémon can still equip an item that will have a special effect such as improving Water element attacks or raising the chance of striking first. Each Pokémon can have up to four abilities of various elements and can defend against multiple elements depending on its type. It's very easy to learn, but there is a deceptive amount of strategy involved.

With high level enemies and a boost in AI, this version is far more difficult than the Game Boy titles. It's still pretty easy most of the time, but there are a few enemies that are challenging, especially if the player attempts to catch an enemy's Pokémon. The challenge is only mild to moderate, but it's enough to make the battle system more fun without making it frustrating.

A change in the interface that Stadium fans will likely be sad to see is the loss of the C-shortcuts. Players now have to traverse small menus rather than use the convenient shortcuts of its predecessors. The interface suffers the strongest in story mode. Using an item will cause the menu to close afterwards, so it can take quite a while to go through and use items on all of the Pokémon in the active party. Swapping Pokémon in and out of boxes is also a bit of a pain. The localization is much better, but it isn't perfect either. There isn't much of a story to translate, despite there being a story mode, but they did a pretty good job with what they had.

The reason there isn't much to translate in the story mode is simple: the actual quest is much shorter than those found in the other Pokémon games. There are only a few actual levels in the game, and most contain only a dozen or two trainers. The longer animations stretch out battles and make the game seems longer than it really is. Still, something is better than nothing, and it's a step in the right direction for 3D Pokémon.

It may not have much of a story, but this is the first 3D Pokémon to have one. The ability to steal and purify Shadow Pokémon is new, but that's about it really. This version isn't very original, even for a series that has been around as long as this one has.

This one features a short quest too
This version features a short quest too
The addition of a story also greatly affects playtime. Though the story itself is short, the long animations almost manage to drag the adventure out to the length of an average game in the series. The main quest can be completed in about twenty hours, but players who complete every single competition and the one hundred trainer mountain will likely spend twice as long. Of course, as with the other games in the series, it's possible to spend even longer catching every single Pokémon and training the perfect party.

Like previous installments, Colosseum features quite a few remixes of the popular tracks from various predecessors. Those tracks are pretty good, but few of the tracks, remixed or brand new, particularly stand out. They don't become very repetitive, so it's not really a problem though. The sound effects are mostly of the same quality: not bad, but not great either.

Unlike the music, the visuals are very good. Though some of the Pokémon models come straight out of the previous games, more of these complex models appear on the screen at once at no loss to the resolution. In fact, the resolution even seems a little clearer than it was in its predecessors. It can't really be blamed for using the models from earlier games, as they are still good by today's standards, and over one hundred more have been added for the new Pokémon too. The largest upgrade the graphics received is in the animations. Each has improved special effects and generally look better overall.

Though the addition of a story is a small step in the right direction, Pokémon Colosseum really can't compete with some of the other games in today's market. The battle system is fantastic, but the lack of a decent story hurts the game as a whole. It's a decent choice for Pokémon fans with money to burn and who already have a compatible version, but players new to the series are better off with a Game Boy Pokémon.

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