Pokémon Colosseum, GameCube

Pokémon Colosseum was developed by Genius Sonority and published by The Pokémon Company in 2003 in Japan and 2004 everywhere else. It is not considered part of the main Pokémon series, but is a third-generation spin-off made exclusively for the Nintendo GameCube.

Unlike previous titles, Pokémon Colosseum does not feature random encounters with Pokémon. Instead, the player can steal, or “snag”, the Pokémon from other Pokémon trainers. The game features several battle modes for single-player and multiplayer play.

Pokémon Colosseum is set in the desert region of Orre. The player character is Wes, a former member of Team Snagem. Throughout the game the player rescues “Shadow Pokémon” — Pokémon who’ve had their hearts darkened by Team Cipher, an antagonistic organisation that are distributing shadow Pokémon among the population. Rui, a female non-player character, serves as Wes’s sidekick and identifies Shadow Pokémon as he progresses through the story.

The player begins the game with two (regular) Pokémon and battles are fought two-on-two, rather than the usual one-on-one. More are obtained throughout the game by snagging them from other trainers using Pokéballs of varying strengths. Only designated “Shadow Pokémon“, whose hearts have been artificially closed, can be snagged. Pokémon can be traded between Colosseum and the Game Boy Advance games Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen and Emerald.

By using captured shadow Pokémon in battle the door to their heart will gradually open and they can eventually be turned back into regular Pokémon by taking them through a purification process at a shrine that becomes available at a certain point in the story. You can’t give your shadow Pokémon nicknames until you unlock their hearts and turn them into regular Pokémon.

Shadow Pokémon often enter ‘Hyper Mode’ which affects their behaviour during battle. It can make them unpredictable, or do negative things (like return to their ball, do nothing, or hurt themselves), but it can also increase their critical hit strength if they attack while in this mode. Using them in this state is therefore risky. It is possible to snap them out of hyper mode by calling them during battle. In fact: calling your Pokémon‘s name during battle can snap them out of a number of aliments, although it doesn’t always work.

In general, the gameplay in Pokémon Colosseum will still be familiar to anyone who’s played a Pokémon game before; there are Pokémon shops where you can buy all the usual potions and buffs; you still earn money (Pokémon Dollars) by battling trainers; there are berries and places to plant them; the Pokédex has been replaced by the “Strategy Memo” which does pretty much the same thing; there are challenge battles where you can earn coupons and redeem them for prizes, and of course there are Colosseum battles in most of the locations you visit in the game.

Pokémon Colosseum isn’t quite as polished, colourful or charming as the classic 2D Pokémon games Ruby/Sapphire or Pearl/Diamond, but it is still a decent game. It took me a while to actually warm to it, but it eventually won me over.

Pokémon Colosseum was a reasonable success, sales-wise, selling approximately 1.15 million physical copies in the United States and 656,270 copies in Japan. It was followed by a sequel in 2005, called Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.

More: Pokémon Colosseum on Wikipedia

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