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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Genius Sonority
Genre: RPG
Players: 1-2
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: October 3, 2005
Written By: Noel Del Pilar

Pokemon has been a very famous series. It has had its own cartoon show, and other Pokemon stuff like toys, clothes, etc. However, we cannot forget about the videogames. Most of them let you live the life of a pokemon trainer. Pokemon in video games is mostly popular because of its RPG’s on the Gameboy. What is cool about them is that you capture many pokemon and train them to make them stronger. Not to mention the many different characters you encounter and the nice storylines. In 2004, Nintendo decided to reproduce the 2D series into 3D for the Gamecube. Yet, they decided to change the gameplay for Pokemon Colosseum. They changed the way to capture pokemon. Instead of walking around and randomly encountering pokemon, you must steal pokemon from evil trainers that have shadow pokemon. Sadly, this and many other changes caused it not to be a true pokemon RPG. While not horrible, it still did not feel like a true pokemon RPG game, as it should have. In 2005, Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness was released, and it fixed many of Colosseum's flaws. Do the improvements make Pokemon XD a true Pokemon RPG? Continue reading to find out.

Welcome back once again to the Pokemon World. Not so long ago Cipher, a group of evil trainers, were turning pokemon into shadow pokemon so they could become stronger when angered. Now, Cipher has returned for vengeance. One night when a boat was sailing through the seas, Lugia appeared! Strangely, Lugia was all black with red eyes. Lugia used a special beam to take the boat, and then disappeared. The culprits of this tragedy were none other than Cipher. Your mission is to capture and purify as many shadow pokemon as you can, and find out what Cipher's plans are this time. The story is nothing too impressive, but it sure adds some interesting stuff, unlike Pokemon Colosseum.

Pokemon RPG’s have always been all about their great turn-based battle system, and this installment is no exception. In most Pokemon battles, you have to use good strategy with each attack in order to defeat your foes easily. In Pokemon's battle system, your pokemon each have four moves. Most of them are used to attack your opponent’s pokemon, but other special attacks can help you paralyze, freeze, burn and poison them. That’s where all the strategy comes in. But now, in Pokemon XD, you have shadow pokemon, who don't remember all of their regular attacks at first, but begin with shadow attacks. One of the issues is that sometimes your shadow pokemon will get too angry and hit itself, but what you have to do is use the call command, and he will calm down and return to normal form. The thing is that you lose one turn that could have been used for an attack. However, the biggest problem with Shadow pokemon is that they start with one move, and then when their dark bar steadily goes down, they remember regular moves. Sometimes that can really mess up your strategy. While it is understandable that they tried to bring in a new idea, it just doesn’t work very well with this game where attacking is a main objective most strategies.

Pokemon Colosseum was lacking puzzles and several other RPG elements, but Pokemon XD tries to fix those things with a few puzzles here and there and more interesting exploration. However, the city to city travel remains the same. You just choose a city and your character goes there, rather than walking through the woods to get there. There are some side quests though, with different characters to talk with. However, not many players would actually like to talk to all the villagers when there is so much text reading involved. Pokemon XD still has your typical marts for buying poke balls and potions to cure your pokemon, and Pokemon Centers are also there to cure all the pokemon in your party.

Overall, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is a good attempt at improving the sad gameplay that Pokemon Colosseum had. Shadow pokemon can be purified a bit faster, the battles require more strategy than Colosseum, and the story also has some nice twists. Sadly, the addition of shadow pokemon really detracts from the Pokemon gameplay.

The visuals of XD are quite a bit more impressive than in Colosseum. The character models seem to have better details and less weird looks (there are still some creepy ones though). The environment and atmosphere in most areas of the game have been improved for the better. Although the pokemon models have not improved much, they still don't look bad. The graphics are certainly better looking overall, but they still need to work on those characters.

Audio is probably the one thing modern games do best. Pokemon XD offers the solid soundtrack that most have come to expect from the pokemon series. It still delivers that same orchestrated pokemon style. The big problem with the audio is the lack of voiceovers in the game. It is really annoying because there is just too much text to read in the game. A way to get more into an RPG is with voiceovers, and Pokemon still doesn’t deliver that. The sound effects are all perfect, fitting nice with each attack, nothing crazy or unnecessary in the game. Nice quality overall in the audio department.

Generally, RPG titles only get played through once or twice, sometimes because they are too long, and sometimes because of lack of interest. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is one of those that lacks enough interest to draw you in for another play-through. The multiplayer features have been fixed quite a bit, but you still have to either use your pokemon in the XD RPG, or your GBA pokemon. You can’t choose any pokemon you want like you could in Pokemon Stadium, which totally ruins the experience because a lot of people don’t own the GBA connector for the Gamecube and not all pokemon are available in Pokemon XD's single player mode. Pokemon XD is also a very short game, especially when compared to other great RPGs out right now.

Overall, Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness is a nice improvement on Pokemon Colosseum, but in the end does not deliver the Pokemon RPG greatness that everyone loves. They just need to completely forget about shadow pokemon and go to the normal RPG style we have on the GBA titles. XD is also a very short experience that is not interesting enough to play again. If you liked Pokemon Colosseum you will certainly enjoy this one, the rest should ignore the title or just rent it if you have nothing to play right now. Hopefully, Nintendo will give us a true RPG on the Wii.


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