Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pokemon XD - Gale of Darkness

Solid Snake? No. Solid Sequel? Yes.
Review By AlienBabalien

When Pokemon Colosseum was first introduced to the United States in March of 2004, I didn't know what to expect. It was practically a flawless game, and was the first solid success for Pokemon on the Game Cube. Then came Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, which hit the US markets in November of 2005. What I was about to realize when I first began this game would shock me for at least a month. Pokemon has done it again, only this time, it has enhanced the gaming experience for players of all ages.

STORY: I had expected much of the story line to be similar to that of Pokemon Colosseum, in which a hero ventures out to help the world by opening the hearts of those consumed by the shadows. However, this game take a completely different path, and this path has also led to a successful gaming experience. A young boy has been given a Snag Machine similar to that of the one you stole in Pokemon Colosseum. It enables the user to capture any of the Pokemon whose hearts have been in the shadows, even if they are being controlled by another trainer. In order to venture off, you are given not two, but one Pokemon, Eevee. From here, you venture off on your own, attempting to save all of those who are in need of assistance, and to stop the corporations who have been torturing your companions with their sinister plots. Though this story line is not the same as the previous sequel, in some ways more than others, it was still a very good idea that was brought up, and does deserve a pat on the back.

GAMEPLAY: The same twist to Pokemon Colosseum has been brought back in Pokemon XD. Rather than just battling other Pokemon, attacking them until they faint, and moving on to the next battle, you must battle and attempt to capture Shadow Pokemon. These are not the ordinary ones that you battle. Their hearts have been consumed by the shadows, and the only way to help them is if you capture them, and keep them away from the corporations out to use them for evil. You can also use the Call option, in which you can use to help heal a status, or cause a Shadow Pokemon to exit the Hyper Mode, which if entered, will often prevent you from controlling it. This is a good way to create a sequel, yet it is a bit repetitive, and often times will get annoying if Hyper Mode continues to happen on a regular basis.

GRAPHICS: The graphics, like Colosseum, are absolutely flawless. The Pokemon have been a lot more developed than the Nintendo 64 versions of this game. In the Nintendo 64 version of this game, the Pokemon were not very realistic to that of the actual Pokemon, their moves didn't match the three-dimensional style of the game, and the background didn't set the scenario of the battle at all. However, in Pokemon XD, all of that changes. All the Pokemon do look like their two-dimensional counter parts, and the scenery is quite magnificent not only in a battle, but even as you're walking from place to place. The attacks have also been severely edited, and as a result, they have matched the entire mood of the game, which is three-dimensional, and graphically enhanced.

SOUND: The sound in Pokemon XD is just as good as Colosseum, if not better. There is quite a good soundtrack for this game, having all the elements needed to really convey the mood or theme of a certain area. If the area is being overcome by the evil corporations, then the music is sort of a slow, darker, mysterious sort of tone. The places that are more peaceful, however, have more of a scenic mood, with a slow melody and the quieter, more beautiful tunes. At times, there isn't even any music, and this is mostly when it is supposed to be a silent sort of area, or whether it is more intense such as a boss fight. The sound in this game is definitely as good as the previous game, and is capable of selling well as a soundtrack.

CONTROLS: The controls for this game are quite basic. They are pretty much like all the Pokemon games on the hand-held consoles. Use the Control Stick to move around, A to select commands, the B button is to cancel, and the Start button is used to pause the game. In the middle of a battle, you use the Control Stick to navigate, the A button to select a command or option, and the B button to cancel previous selections. Though they aren't the most fabulous sounding Controls, this is what Role-Playing Game controls are like. You can't really move and attack for the sole reason that each player takes turns using attacks, as the genre implies. Therefore, in a sense, the Controls are actually very good for a standard Role Play.

DIFFICULTY: The difficulty for Pokemon XD excels past Colosseum with flying colors. There is a lot more you must do in order to successfully complete the game. In Colosseum, all battles were pretty much Double Battles, never with the option of a single battle. However, in this game, it is a bit different. Singles Battles, as well as Doubles battles, are utilized in the game to help add a variety to the game, as well as different strategies for each type of game play. There are more Shadow Pokemon that need to be obtained, and certain trainers will have more than one Shadow Pokemon in their team, which intensifies the match, as two Shadow Pokemon must be caught consecutively without causing either one to faint. The largest Shadow Pokemon is very difficult to catch, and almost impossible to purify. It will take a long time before you come close to finishing this game, and it is definitely worth it if you're looking for something to keep you going before purchasing another game.

REPLAYABLE: If you're looking for a solid replay of this game, then you've come to the right senses. Catching Shadow Pokemon is a lot more enjoyable and a bit more challenging than catching regulars in the hand held games, and catching all the legendary ones will take quite a bit of effort in order to accomplish. Also, if started over, Lugia is out again, and is definitely worth a replay if you want it for hand held teams. The only reason you may find the re-playability a bit lacking is because you already know the locations of each one. Other than that, it is a pretty good game to leave in your shelf.

OVERALL: Clearly, Pokemon XD has a few flaws that were not as noticeable in Pokemon Colosseum, yet the game itself was still overall perfect on every level. It wasn't THE perfect game, but it sure is a solid sequel.

SYSTEM: Nintendo Game Cube



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