“Pokémon Colosseum” and “Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness” game reviews: A shadow of the Past

Photo courtesy of aiptcomic.com

Photo courtesy of aiptcomic.com

Pokémon is widely considered to be a franchise for everyone. Being the highest-grossing media franchise in the world, it’s hard to come across someone who hasn’t heard of Pikachu. Having made a total of roughly $92 billion, it makes sense that people love Pokémon for its ability to appeal to all ages with a variety of monsters. People can catch, trade, and battle these monsters through cards, plushies, and even video games. 

The Pokémon video games do a lot for the series, as they are the media to introduce new Pokémon to the world for people to enjoy. With the main series of games and countless spin-offs, it’s hard to keep track of every Pokémon game ever released. However, two Pokémon games released on the GameCube have always been my favorites, despite not many people having played them: “Pokémon Colosseum” and its sequel “Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.”

The gameplay is widely the same as current Pokémon games. You have a team of six Pokémon, and when an NPC trainer spots you, it’s battle time. Battles, like normal, consist of a turn-based system where you select moves and try to knock out your opponent’s team before they can knock out yours. The game plays exclusively in double battles, where you and your opponent will have two Pokémon out at once rather than just one.

These Pokémon games are different from what you may think you know, though.Unlike normal, you can’t find wild Pokémon to catch and raise in these two games. 

In these games, your goal is to steal Pokémon from other people.

You do this by using a snag machine, which turns your regular Pokéballs into snag balls. These snag balls allow you to catch Pokémon that other trainers have previously caught.

It isn’t as if you can go around catching any Pokémon you please, though. You can only steal Pokémon that are in need of help. The evil criminal organization known as Cipher is illegally turning Pokémon evil, dubbed “shadow Pokémon.” These shadow Pokémon are known to attack humans and cause mayhem because their hearts have been forcefully closed to compassion. What’s worse is that Cipher is distributing these evil Pokémon to trainers in an attempt to take over the world! If you as the player encounter a shadow Pokémon, you will have the chance to catch it.

Catching a Pokémon isn’t too different from the normal games. You decrease its HP and throw a ball to try and catch it. The twist this time though is that the trainer will have other Pokémon attacking your own in an attempt to stop you from catching their shadow Pokémon. Throwing a snag ball costs a turn, so utilizing your Pokémon attacks and your catching attempts wisely is key to catching shadow Pokémon. This system is a breath of fresh air, as it adds a challenge to an otherwise easy game franchise. The system works beautifully, and I also find myself giddy with excitement every time I find a trainer with a shadow Pokémon.

Shadow Pokémon are stronger than normal, but they can’t level up. To purify a Pokémon, you have to battle with it enough times until it’s heart is ready to be opened again. Once you purify a Pokémon, it’ll gain a burst of experience and will begin to level up, though it’ll lose access to exclusive shadow moves. 

The stories of both games are mature, exhilarating, and dark for the franchise.

People getting punched, Pokémon attacking humans, and bombs are all things that can be found in these games. Today, these things would never fly in a Pokémon game due to the kid-friendly environment that the Pokémon company tries to push. However, these things and more all combine to create an excellent story. The writing does, unfortunately, fall victim to the cheesy and somewhat cringeworthy dialogue that Pokémon is known for, but the dark atmosphere the story sets up makes up for it. The evil team, Cipher, truly does some vicious things, which adds to the overall feel of both games being darker than your average Pokémon game.

“Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness” is the sequel to “Pokémon Colosseum,” and the improvements it made to its predecessor are astounding. In “Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness,” you have the ability to purify Pokémon without battling with them via the purification machine. Additionally, there are new Pokémon to encounter, including wild Pokémon, though there’s a very limited amount you can catch. Additionally, it allows you to retry catching a shadow Pokémon if you’ve failed before. In “Pokémon Colosseum,” if you failed to catch a Pokémon, then you lost that Pokémon for good. In addition to new areas to explore, “Gale of Darkness” is truly a worthy successor in every sense.

These games have some of the best animations I’ve ever seen in the entire Pokémon video game series. Each Pokémon is expressive, allowing for personality to shine through. The world, while not very big, is detailed enough that you’re never taken out of the game by bland level design. Despite being released on the Gamecube in the early 2000s, these games still look pretty good today. They have not aged awfully, which is largely thanks to the wonderful art design and animations. 

It’s a shame that the current Pokémon company won’t acknowledge these games. They were some of the most refreshing Pokémon games I’ve ever played, and I have a feeling many people would agree with me. However, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see remakes or re-releases of these games again. It is unlikely that the current Pokémon company would dare touch these games since they were a lot darker than Pokémon is today. With the distaste of current Pokémon games by older fans, I wish more people could experience Pokémon in a world where it isn’t as child-friendly as it seems. Alas, these games seem to be stuck in the past for good.

If you’re a Pokémon fan who is tired of the same old formula, “Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness” and “Pokémon Coloseum” are the games for you. They aren’t particularly long, and they are easy to pick up and play. However, they are Gamecube exclusives. If you have the means available to you to play these games, then you should definitely check them out. They’re some of the best Pokémon games out there!


“Pokémon Colosseum” – 7.5/10

“Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness” – 8.5/10