Your rating: None

Developer - Genius Sonority
Publisher - Nintendo


1,2 or 4 Players
Memory Card (43 blocks)
Progressive Scan Compatible
Gameboy Advance Compatible


Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Gamecube
Category: n/a
Developer - Genius Sonority Publisher - Nintendo Features 1,2 or 4 Players Memory Card (43 blocks) Progressive Scan Compatible Gameboy Advance Compatible Pokémon is synonymous with Nintendo; they go together like cereal and milk. The big ‘N’ knows that the series’ “gotta get 'em all” addictiveness is what sells millions of copies. As the Gamecube starts to wind down over the next year or so (no one is sure when the Revolution will be released) you can make a bet that many storied franchises will most likely make one more visit to the little box that could. Taking this belief into perspective the latest Pokémon has been released on the Gamecube. Entitled Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, this game continues what most other Pokémon games have done in the past: keep to an original formula, make some minor improvements (both graphical and gamplay wise), add some new Pokémon, shake well and serve immediately. Graphics This game is simple enough in terms of looks, which is typical Pokémon fashion, however that is not to say that some of the graphics abilities of the Gamecube are not utilized. Seeing Pokémon in 3D is something that I am still getting used to as I am so accustomed to playing these games on the small screen of any one of the Nintendo branded portable consoles that it has been on. This most recent big screen release does show that the game has stepped it up since Pokémon Colosseum was first released on the cube. I found that the lighting and shadowing had more prevalence this time around and that the all the characters and environments in the game seemed to come to life a little more. Special effects are also used, as is evidenced from the special attacks and the accompanying effects with them. I also noted that everything has a very cartoon quality to it as well, something I think is important in this series as it will further its sales in terms of those who have seen the Pokémon movies or Saturday morning cartoons wannabes. It is clear that this game knows its audience and by making it a solid looking game only furthers it desirability, especially amongst diehard Pokémon hunters. Sound It is clear that the music of this game has more prevalence then the rest of the sound effects in terms of volume and quantity. On this note however, the music itself is nothing outstanding, just your standard background music that tries to pull you into the game, especially during battles. I was very disappointed to see that there was no spoken dialog in this latest Pokémon game. RPG style games, especially with the storage medium of optical discs, scream for voice acting to be used. With the previous Pokémon movies I think it would have been great to include voice acting in a Pokémon game to further the gameplay, specifically the atmosphere that the gamer is drawn into, however, no such luck here. As for the rest of the sound package the various Pokémon in the game make the occasional whine or grunt, there are a few sound effects to be heard during battles and you also get the typical sounds as one explores the various areas of the game. My descriptions may sound simple, but that is what the sounds in this game really are, simple, average and not as exciting as they could be. Overall they do get the job done, but that is about it. Gameplay Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness’ story is set five years after Pokémon Colosseum. A cargo ship, filled with lots of powerful shadow Pokémon, is attacked by another extremely large, and foreboding, shadow Pokémon. This ‘Pokéheist’ is orchestrated by a group known as Cipher, who wants to amass an army of evil Pokémon to take over the world. You will learn more about them as you delve deeper into the game and I don’t want to tell you much more as it will take away from the game’s story and surprises. Pokémon games are all about exploration and battling, and Pokémon XD is no different. You will participate in numerous creature battles in various locations such as streets, colosseums and other areas meant for warring. As was the case in Pokémon Colosseum, you will fight trainers with shadow Pokémon and the goal is to beat them, obtain the shadow Pokémon and get the shadow Pokémon to “open their hearts” to you to become purified and normal again. Once this occurs they will then become part of your collection. Unlike Colosseum however Pokémon XD has a purification chamber to assist in this step. Something that is also new to the console version is the ability to catch Pokémon in the wild. This sounds like a whole addition to the big-screen version, but it is not has great as it sounds. Here you have to bait the wild Pokémon with treat and you are eventually alerted, via your character's PDA, that a wild one is in the area. You have to return to that area and battle the Pokémon to catch it. Where this aspect fails is that there are only three main spots to catch wild Pokémon, so the hunting aspect of this feature is quite limited as there are not a lot of places to go and do this. Maybe this feature will be fully flushed out on a true DS version of this series, or imagine what could be done using the power and controller of the Revolution. Only time will tell though. The battles themselves are easy to get into just like any of the previous games no matter what form they take (portable or home console). This has always been a plus in the series as the mainstay of the games, which are the battles, are not overly complicated and anyone can get into them. Some of these battles can last a few minutes and this is not something that Pokémaniacs are used too as usually battles are short and sweet. Some may appreciate that some of the battles are longer, however some may also get annoyed as fighting a few trainers in a row can get tedious. Regardless, anyone who has played any of the series before Pokémon XD will slide right into this game’s battle system and those who haven’t played, well the learning curve is not that steep at all. Of course a main attraction to the Pokémon series has always been the multiplayer aspect. Using the GBA link cable one can link up with previous games including Pokémon Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen and import all the Pokémon that have been collected previously into the colosseum found in Gale of Darkness. Up to four individuals can participate in team battles to see who has the toughest Pokémon on the block. Conclusion Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness sticks to what works best: slightly updated graphics, RPG style adventure and an addicting "gotta catch ‘em all" gameplay. There is no doubt that Pokémaniacs all over will embrace this latest incarnation of the series. That being said, I can only hope that with advent of Revolution, as well as the DS solidifying itself as a innovative portable machine, that future releases of this fan favourite will finally advance beyond its staple gameplay and provide those who want to hunt Pokémon with a new style of play along with all new looks.


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