GAMECUBE REVIEW: POKEMON XD: GALE OF DARKNESS

I don't think that anything signals the death of the GameCube more wholeheartedly than Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness. Not only is this game a rip-off of Colosseum but it's available as part of a bundle which includes the GameCube itself for less price than the GBA.

For under a hundred bucks you can now own a GameCube as well as Pokemon XD but before you run out of the house in your dirty underwear you should realize that this next-gen console is in its death throes. There won't be too many new games made exclusively for this system and if Pokemon XD is any example, there won't be too many new games made exclusively for this system - including this one. Unless you count games that were already made for this system that are just being imitated.

The similarities between XD and Colosseum are ridiculous. You couldn't even call this an expansion pack. It's more like a parasite. It uses some of the same arenas, backgrounds and characters not to mention the same gameplay. It has been upgraded and there are some new additions such as the new title character but it's like giving different names to Cosby's Fat Albert gang. It's still the same old, lame gang. I hope you didn't see the movie. Consider that a bonus tip.

Like so many Pokemon games you wander around looking to get into fights. In this game you can win Pokemon as opposed to having to find them in the wild and train them as you do in the GBA versions. You can bait wild ones and you will be alerted to their presence but you have to fight them and win before you can add them to your collection.

Shadow Pokemon are purified in battle where they are cleansed and can eventually be snagged into your stable of pocket monsters. The shadow Pokemon have their hearts closed so they are aggressive towards trainers. There are a few different ways to purify them including a purification station which requires that you surround the Pokemon with at least four regular ones. They will interact depending on their various strengths and weaknesses. It's a tedious process but once you get a lot of them you're off to the races.

The story chronicles the adventures of a young trainer named Michael that must save the world by cleansing all of the shadow Pokemon that were hijacked by an evil organization bent on world domination. The premise is as about as original as the gameplay.

There are games that I review that I don't even want to finish. This was one of them. It's a wonder I eventually made it through considering how boring and laborious the first few hours are as you are introduced to Michael and his back history. It's not that the game is so great afterwards but it seems that way since you have to suffer through all these cutscenes and details. The combat also gets a little tiring as you have to do battle after battle to get anywhere. Fortunately there are a few puzzles and mini-games to break up the monotony. Even the new characters aren't that big of a deal. There is hardly anything unique. It's clearly evident that the Pokemon series is running out of ideas.

Like Colosseum, the multi-player modes are the best features in this game but there's nothing we haven't seen. You can play against another person in the Verses mode or go up against another three players where you can import Pokemon from GBA games such as Ruby and Sapphire with the Link cable. Characters that have been leveled-up to extremely high levels can expect long, drawn out battles that aren't as exciting as the short and sweet fights.

I will admit that the game has been improved graphically. There is a little more depth and detail to the characters and environments with good shading techniques and fluid particle effects. The sound effects are as sparse as the Pokemons' utterances which are reduced to whines and grunts. The music is catchy and a lot less cutesy than it was on the GBA.

I still think that the best way to play Pokemon is on the GBA. It's home turf. The GameCube only serves to illustrate how basic the gameplay really is. It just doesn't translate well onto a more powerful system. Much of the problem is that the developers don't know what else to do with all the left over processing power. The game of blackjack has its perfect medium with a deck of cards and Pokemon has the GBA. Sometimes things are just best left alone.

Preview By Vaughn

Not ones to give up on a good thing, Nintendo is once again rolling out the Pokemon franchise, but this time it will be an RPG on the GameCube system...not on the DS or GBA or even the Revolution for that matter.

We know absolutely nothing about this except that Dark Lugia is a featured character in this game, as evidenced by her face.

It is being developed by Genius Sorority, the same company that brought you Pokemon Colosseum, but don't expect the game style gameplay with a few RPG elements. We're told to expect something that Pokemon fans can really dig their teeth into.

We expect to have more light shed on this intriguing title at E3.

System: GameCube
Dev: Genius Sonority
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1 - 2, 4
Review By StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2.5