Pokémon Colosseum Review
NOTE: All opinions in this review are 100% my own. You can tell the difference between fact and opinion, I trust, so basically, the facts are true, the opinions are mine. [May contain spoilers]
Pokémon Colosseum, the first Pokémon RPG for the Gamecube. It introduces a new story, a bigger part of the game than the previous games' storylines; this time you don't play as a newbie trainer who gets a starter from professor Tree and then defeats Team x. Instead, you play as Wes, an already skilled trainer with an Espeon and an Umbreon.
Wes, in fact, has lived a life of crime up until now. He used to work for Team Snagem, an organization dedicated to catching Pokémon that belong to other trainers using what is called a Snag Machine. There is a big one, which is at the Snagem Headquarters, and a small one that you can carry on your arm. The Snag Machines turn normal Poké Balls, Great Balls and Ultra Balls (and even Master Balls) into Snag Balls which can capture another trainer's Pokémon, unlike normal balls.
Now, Wes appears to have been converted to the light side, since he starts off this game's storyline by blowing up the Snagem Headquarters and the big Snag Machine, and stealing the small Snag Machine. He drives some kind of a hovercraft and is to my opinion definitely the coolest character we have gotten to play as in a Pokémon game so far. Give us more of this shady smirky teenage thing, why won't you, Game Freak/Genius Sonority? Wes rocks.
Anyway, when Wes has left the Snagem Headquarters and Gonzap-the-Snagem-leader-with-the-freaky-mustache, the game starts. You discover a plan by another organization, Team Cipher, called the Shadow Pokémon Plan, which is about artificially closing the door to Pokémon's hearts to make them mindless but powerful battling machines. Team Cipher has created 48 Shadow Pokémon and distributed them to unknowing trainers who merely see them as cool, powerful Pokémon. It is your job to Snag them all and bring them back to the light - 'purify' them - through various odd methods such as massages and shouting their names. Hey, don't ask me how that is supposed to work. I didn't make the game.
Plots have never been Pokémon's strongest point, and I am afraid that Colosseum's plot is not much better than that of its predecessors. While it does seem a lot deeper at first, the plot holes really wreck it - for example, none of the trainers do ANYTHING when you Snag their Shadow Pokémon, even though they don't even know it's Shadow. How come they're always eager to battle you again even though you stole a Pokémon from them? It really doesn't make sense. And as always in Pokémon, the ending is extremely weak. You defeat the leader of Cipher and he's captured, but he escapes again right away and goes right back there, and everybody forgets that they've already said what they're about to say to you. Your partner appears to be planning to follow you for the rest of her life, and people keep telling you to go and purify all the Shadow Pokémon even after you have already done so. In fact, nothing AT ALL happens in Story Mode when you've purified them all, which is very disappointing; the only thing you gain by purifying them all is the ability to get Ho-oh if you finish the 100 Mt. Battle challenge. The other major flaw in Colosseum's plot is how disappointingly short it is. It takes even shorter to complete when you realize that when you go between towns, you just get a short cutscene. They could really have expanded upon it and made it a full-length RPG since they did include Story Mode there at all, but they didn't.
What I find to be the greatest thing about Colosseum, however, is the design - not the graphics, but the design itself. The characters are very neat and much more original than in the Gameboy games, and I'm officially in love with Orre. The mood is set really well, especially with fitting music in every place. The Outskirt Stand, a rusty locomotive-turned-restaurant in the middle of a desert, almost makes me thirsty just being there. Move on to Pyrite Town, a dirty, suspicious town full of people who would do anything for money and have Pokémon battles in the filthy streets and home to Miror B., a funky disco-dancing Cipher admin with an afro and an army of Ludicolo. And The Under, a dark underground city ruled by Lady Venus through TV broadcasts, containing a network of computer-hacking kids and extremely addictive background music. Mount Battle, a mountain range with scary flying platforms built into it where you can work your way up the mountain while admiring (or getting the heck scared out of you by) the view below. And those are just my personal favorites. I love the music too. The whole game is a work of art. It gives me an urge to write a Colosseum fanfic. Yes, that's how much it rocks. Heck, the game is worth it just for that.
They honestly could have done a much better job on the graphics, though. Some things are just WAY too polygonal and not at all fully taking advantage of what the GameCube is capable of. And they're STILL using models from old STADIUM, for crying out loud... they have to start making new models for at least the first 151. *grumbles at the way Charizard looks* Also, many Pokémon and humans move VERY exaggeratedly, to the point of being just plain creepy. The breathing animations (what the Pokémon do while they're waiting for an order) are supposed to be doing exactly that - breathing - but then you have Pokémon like Vileplume bouncing up and down like rabid grasshoppers on steroids. It's just... odd. Oh, and the Pokémon are still not touching at all when they attack, although the game IS a great deal better cut than Stadium - they look slightly more like they could actually be touching now, with for example something that covers the Pokémon that attacked and taking your attention so when it fades away a moment later, the Pokémon behind it is actually the opponent. Nonetheless, having them at least visibly move towards the enemy instead of just into the edge of the screen would be much better. And each Pokémon just has one type of movement for physical attacks and one for special attacks. Boring.
Overall, I like Colosseum despite the severe disappointment over a few aspects of it, but it all depends on how you judge the game. You should definitely try it out and see if you like it, at least - and then you can decide whether you want to own it.
Page last modified October 18 2005 at 23:34 GMT