Games You May Have Missed: Pokemon Colosseum

This is the first entry in a series of articles about games that you might have missed throughout the years, games that might have fallen under the radar. Some of these games might not have been universally acclaimed, or some of them might have been a bit too eccentric for its time. The aim of this series is to give you the reader either some new games to check out, or inspiration to dust off an old favorite.

With that being said, the first entry in this series is the 2004 GameCube release “Pokémon Colosseum.” The game is the first 3D Pokémon game for the Nintendo GameCube, and is seen by many as the next step in the franchise’s home console entries after the Pokémon Stadium games. The game follows the main character Wes (this is the default name, the player can edit his name) through the region of Orre as he battles against the evil organization Cipher.

The first thing that really stands out about this game is the excellent soundtrack. Guitar and piano are frequently used to give a dynamic, more epic feel to this story when compared to the handheld games. Don’t get me mistaken, the soundtrack to the handheld games are very, very good as well, but the soundtrack to this entry in the Pokémon franchise arguably stands out the most in comparison. The upbeat piano of the main menu song and the harmonica of the “Outskirt Stand” song grant nostalgia 10 years later for people who played the game. The finger snapping and saxophone of the “Pyrite Town” song grant an attitude of toughness that is unmatched by any other locale in the rest of the series. And of course, the funky, calypso inspired theme for bad guy “Miror B” is an instant classic.

Story wise, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The story revolves around the evil organization Cipher and their exploits with shadow Pokémon. Wes is similar to every other Pokémon protagonist in terms of likability and charm in that it’s quite muted. You are joined on your adventure by Rui (again, you can choose the name of the character, Rui is the default) a girl who can identify shadow Pokémon. Shadow Pokémon are the Pokémon in the game that you are able to catch. That’s right, there are no wild Pokémon encounters in the game. Throughout the game you catch shadow Pokémon using the Snagem machine that Wes had from his prior time with Cipher. Cipher artificially closed the door to the shadow Pokémon’s hearts, leaving Wes to try and purify the heart of these Pokémon. The characters of the game for the most part all have ridiculous names, however, many of the characters are memorable in their own right. One of the Cipher villains looks like Heihachi from Tekken, and one of the main villains of the game, Miror B (yes, the name is spelled like that. The names in this series are ridiculous) is amazing. A giant half-white/half-red afro and a team filled with Ludicolo’s are just some of these things that makes this villain so memorable. Overall, the story isn’t quite as ridiculous as Miror B is, but it’s about par for the franchise.

The game takes place in the Orre region, a mountainous, mostly arid region that many believe is in the northern part of the Pokémon world. The region is arguably the most linear in the region, which is one downside. Additionally, there isn’t any tall grass for wild Pokémon encounters, which is one of the larger drawbacks to the game. On the flip side though, the region is very distinct, and quite beautiful. Pyrite Town, Phenac City, and Agate Village are all really cool locations, with each having a unique vibe to them.

Graphically, the game still holds up quite well, but does show a bit of its age in the environments. However personally, I really love the art style of the game, as the textures of the Pokémon attacks are crisp, and the environments have a weird, but still pretty cool under construction look to them as many of the areas you walk through for example have floors made up of sloppily overlapping concrete tiles and other patchwork materials.

Onto the gameplay, the core gameplay of Colosseum is similar to any other in the Pokémon game with a few slight differences. You start out with an Umbreon and Espeon, both of which are quite solid Pokémon to start with. You then can go on to catch shadow Pokémon as previously mentioned. There are about roughly 100 Pokémon you can catch, including your choice of 2nd evolution Johto Starter towards the beginning of the game. There are no gym leaders in the game either, instead having one “pre-gym” that you can use to train your Pokémon early on in the game.        Additionally, one of the mechanics of the game is the act of purifying the shadow Pokémon that you obtain in the game. You purify them by having them in the party with you, by battling with them, and a few other methods. One thing I should mention before I forget is the multiplayer mode in the game. In Phenac City there is a multiplayer area where trainers can battle, Pokémon Stadium style. If you are going to play Colosseum, you are going to want to play it for its single player mode, but the multiplayer is really great as well. Lastly, every battle in the game is a double battle, which is something that I personally don’t mind, but I know some players of the game are not a fan of this feature. The game is a very battle heavy game, but at the end of the day, it still feels like a Pokémon game through and through.

If you are going to go back and play this game, the pros of it are that the game is the most unique of the Pokémon series, that the locations in the game are all really cool, that the soundtrack is excellent, and that the graphics still age pretty well.

The downside to the game is arguably what makes it good as well. The fact that it’s so different from other Pokémon games can be a turn-off for some fans of the series. There are no wild Pokémon in the game, and there are no gym leaders. Additionally, the game is the most linear in the series, which could be something that people might not like.

Ultimately, Pokémon Colosseum is a solid game, and is one that is a personal favorite of mine. What you think of the game will come down to how willing you are to play a Pokémon game with no gym leaders or wild encounters. Overall, I would give it an 8 out of 10. The game also spawned a sequel, which is just as solid as the first. If you like Colosseum, check out the sequel, if you don’t, then XD is most likely not for you.
That’s all for this entry, I hope you all enjoyed it, and feel free to list any suggestions you may have in the comment section below. Have you played this game? If so, what are your thoughts on it?