Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
Pokémon Colosseum, the previous Pokémon game for the GameCube, learnt us that there’s a huge difference between the GC version and the numerous GameBoy versions. The most remarkable difference is the way you catch Pokémon. In the GB versions you walk around in the long grass and once and a while you bump into a wild Pokémon. In the GC version the concept was totally changed so you could only get new Pokémon in your team if you snatched (read: stole) an evil Pokémon from his trainer. This way, a big part of the freedom in the GB versions was lost. So, with a lot of expectations people looked out to this Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness for the Cube.
The story starts with a dark intromovie. Shadow Lugia, a gigantic, mysterious Shadow Pokémon, uses its magical powers to lift a ship out of the sea and flies away with it. Lots of panic and astonishment!
You play the part of a young trainer, who lives with his sister and his mom in the Pokémon HQ Lab. Mother Lily works together with professor Krane on a purifying chamber so Shadow Pokémon can be purified in a simple and fast way. As it happens, the evil organisation Cipher likes closing the hearts of sweet Pokémon to change them in bad Shadow Pokémon they can use for their deceitful business. When professor Krane is kidnapped by the evil ones, it doesn’t look so good.
As soon as you start, you notice that there is still no freedom. Your mom asks you to find your little sister and when you talk to one of the guys, you find out she’s in the lab of an insane professor a few steps down the road. The new place appears on the map en so you hurry down there on your scooter. You find your sister and bump into a salesman. He tells you a machine part your mother is waiting for, arrived in the shop. So you, good boy, go home and pass the message. Mommy tells you where to find the shop en you’re off again. It keeps going on like this. In every place, you find some friendly or dark persons who like to fight with you.
Those “fights” are, as you may expect, still the same. You have two Pokémon, your opponent has two of them and in turn, you choose which attacks your Pokémon must perform. If you have never played a Pokémon game before, you must understand you can’t really speak of a fight. The Pokémon don’t touch each other, you can rather see it as casting spells.
Furthermore, every Pokémon has certain characteristics that are profitable or disadvantuous for other types. For example, a Water Pokémon will be the most effective against a Fire Pokémon. On the other hand, a Ground-attack won’t effect a Flying Pokémon. I admit, some attacks have beautiful graphical effects, but that’s nothing new.
The comparison with Pokémon Colosseum goes even much further. Some places, like Agate Village, are completely the same. So not only the concept – catch Shadow Pokémon, open their heart by fighting with them or massaging them with colognes and then purifying them at the Relic Stone – and the fighting system are identical. Whole neighbourhoods are put in the game again. Even the sounds are mostly alike. Only changing the story is a very cheap way of making a new game if you ask me!
But fair is fair, there are a few little additions. In three different places you can catch wild Pokémon. You leave some bait and if you’re lucky, they’ll eat it. In the meantime you are busy doing other things,
so you must drop immediately what you were doing and hurry to the place. If you are fast enough, the Pokémon will still be nibbling on his favourite snacks; if you are too late, then the villain is gone. Perhaps fun for a minute, but it doesn’t really add much to this game.
The Quick Battle is a step in the right direction. In this mode, you can play with a friend, without needing a GBA! You can choose to pass one GC controller or both take a controller. Two players at the most can play here. If you want to play with three or four people, you need the Group Battle mode. There only one person can use a GC controller, while the others still need a GBA. So, it’s a little improvement, but far from ok.
Actually, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is almost a copy of Pokémon Colosseum. Besides a few little additions everything is the same. If you haven’t played Pokémon Colosseum, you’ll probably give this game a higher score, because the game really isn’t that bad at all. Others will see it as a disappointing deja vu.