8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Sword Review


It’s time to take a look at the latest Pokemon main game. We’ve been waiting for a true Pokemon home console game for many, many years. It’s finally here and that alone is a great milestone. It’s definitely a lot of fun and a great game. Pokemon’s always just a blast. Game Freak did their best to sabotage the hype with their surprising lack of effort here though. I’ll go more into that later on, but cashed in or not, it’s just great to finally be able to play a Pokemon game on the big screen.

The game starts you off with getting your first Pokemon as always. Your rival is a kid named Hop who is the younger brother of the undefeated champion Leon. Naturally there is a lot of pressure on him as a result, but he is eager to make a name for himself. The two of you decide to conquer all of the gyms in the hopes of entering the Pokemon league and becoming the new champion. It’ll be tough, but the kids are ready to give this their all and won’t give up.

The gameplay is top notch as always. One of the reasons why Pokemon pulls off the gameplay so well is how fast everything loads. It’s something that the series had trouble with with XD and Colosseum as everything took a while to load but this one gives you the option to turn off animations. Once you do then the game is on full speed. It’s always a lot of fun to switch up your roster and figure out which attacks are best. A quality of life update here is that you can see how much damage and how much accuracy an attack has right away. It takes the guesswork out of the match. The hub world is solid and all of the mechanics are explained well. You won’t have to worry about missing out on something and this is why the game series still can’t be beat here.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the Pokemon games are the opening hours. That’s where you get to catch your first few Pokemon and slowly begin building up the team that you will be sticking with. It’s unlikely that you will keep the first 6 that you catch but eventually you’ll have a pretty solid roster. Typically you’ll be ahead of the wild Pokemon curve although there were a few I bumped into who were stronger than members of my party so I would ultimately make room for them.

This was probably my least balanced roster from all the games at least from a competitive standpoint. I had my fire starter, 3-4 birds and 2 ice types. Basically if I fought a thunder type things would get a little tricky. Still, these 6 were a blast and they all got their moments to shine. Scorbunny handled most of the foes and matches up well with Hop’s team. I don’t know if this was intentional but all 6 of Hop’s fighters are weak against Scorbunny’s attacks. Togetic came in clutch during one of the final battles as well though. Every game will typically have you running a different squad so it’s always nice to see how they changed. One day I should dig up my older games and compare my top 6 of each one.

The levels here definitely look really good. Everything is bright and vibrant. While the graphics are in the same style as the 3DS games, you can definitely see the improvements. This may not quite be Odyssey, but I’d give the animations a thumbs up. Everything is clear as it should be and it all looks high quality. The game makes the tournament feel grand and likewise for the big battles with the loud audience in the background and through the solid tunes. Naturally you’ve got the soundtrack which is really good. It’s a little too bad that they added chanting to the best theme in the game, but Youtube still has the pre-release version in case you ever need to give it a listen. Even without that this game’s soundtrack is great. Pokemon never disappoints with that.

Then we’ve got the characters. Hop is one of the weaker rivals since he doesn’t have the edge that the older ones have got. He beats Hau, but I couldn’t really give him much more credit than that. That being said, he gets a lot of character development and has improved considerably by the end of the game. His Pokemon roster is also pretty solid, I can’t think of another rival having a team with Level 70 Pokemon at the ready from previous titles. Hop may lose most of the battles he is in, but he always does manage to get back up.

Hop isn’t the only rival this time though as we’ve also got Bede. He’s more of a traditional rival who is very confident in his abilities. He’s the best rival of the 3 I’d say even if his character arc doesn’t have the greatest end. He does have a good fight in the post game story though which does help him restore part of his rep. It was just nice to have a more ruthless character to deal with. The third and final rival was Marnie. She gets the smallest role out of the 3 though and surprisingly misses out on the whole post game content. She has some pretty good abilities like the other two and had the potential to be the best rival if she had gotten more screen time. Maybe Marnie will get more appearances in the future or through DLC because it does feel like there is a lot more left to her story.

Then we’ve got the professor in training for the region Sonia. Sonia’s a good character, but like most professors she is just here to slow down the story. The story is a weak point of the game which I will get to in a moment. This is mainly due to Sonia as every time she stops the game to talk about the legends you wait for her to go so you can go back to catching Pokemon. Catching the Pokemon is still the most enjoyable part of the game along with fighting trainers after all and the lore is fairly generic so it never feels like something you’ve just got to know.

We can’t forget about Leon. He’s definitely a solid champion and does a good job of making a name for himself amidst a stacked roster. Naturally he won’t be overcoming Steven, Lance, Blue, Cynthia, or Iris anytime soon, but he’s probably the next best as he is an upgrade over Wallace, Alder, and Diantha. The fact that he is undefeated is also crazy because not losing a single fight is really unheard of. He also isn’t afraid to keep reminding that fact to everyone and the way he just casually tells the main character that he will be crushed is great. You can’t go wrong with having a Charizard either. He doesn’t have the air of mystery or thrill that the top champs have, but he does have the skills.

Finally we’ve also got the two villains from the post game story. I won’t say much about them here, but they do have the best cutscene in the game. It was a great way to introduce a threat to the game even if it came at the very end. When you see their designs you probably won’t be able to take them too seriously but it can’t be denied that their skills are the real deal. As they are post game bosses their Pokemon stats are through the roof. They’re actually incredibly powerful and it was pretty unexpected which is why it worked out so well.

Lets talk about the story now. That is the main weak point of the game as it is by far the worst story in all of Pokemon. There’s never been a main game with a worse story and naturally most of the spinoffs win as well. There isn’t an actual villain group this time. Team Rocket may not be the most serious group at times, but at least they do raise the stakes a bit. This group is only about cheering on their leader and aren’t actually criminals. Most of the game doesn’t truly have a plot beyond the whole “Get all the Gym badges” arc. It seems like the game traded having a real plot for giving Hop a big character arc. Most of the game’s plot happens off screen with the characters checking things out as you fight.

This may be for the best in a sense since the plot that we did have wasn’t all that interesting. Whenever the characters would look at another mural I felt like the game was repeating itself. So those parts are good to keep off screen. I think we should have had some real villains though. Even the villains we did get didn’t feel too genuine as they changed quite a lot immediately after fighting them. I also have to say that the plan didn’t make any sense even as far as villain plans go. The villain plot is so short that the game stalls by having you fight the same guy 4-5 times in a row. That really felt like the game was pushing it.

The story is at its best when you are fighting one of the 3 rivals. There may not be any stakes but at least they have some attitude on them. You are also defending Hop’s honor in some of these fights so that also makes it a little personal at least. Terry (The main character) definitely isn’t the type to back down. It’s interesting that they give you some options on what he says at times. We know that he is talking, but of course his personality will be way different depending on how you answer.

Now the big topic, how Game Freak did their best to sabotage this game. First off, it’s Pokemon so no matter what this was always going to sell amazingly well. The game is smashing records left and right. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get everything here as this could have been what Ultimate was to Super Smash. Lets quickly look at what Game Freak took away and discuss which ones were important. Game Freak cut out around 400 Pokemon, They cut off a large chunk of moves so there is less variety now, fewer attack animations, the over world map is one of the smaller ones in recent memory, there’s a very short post game selection, caves are basically extinct, and EXP share is on by default and can’t be turned off.

For the EXP share part, I understand why people are upset by that one even though it doesn’t affect me. Pretty much all RPGs have this feature on by default and with no option to turn off. Pokemon was unique in not having it and I’m extremely glad that it’s here. It’s way more of a hassle to train everyone up one by one even if it does make the game more strategic. That being said, there should always be an option to toggle this on and off considering how easy it would be. The attack animations being limited is a non factor to me. I turn those off almost immediately when booting up the game anyway. They make each battle take way too long. Likewise there are already a ton of attack moves in the game so I don’t need the extra ones.

The post game being so short is a little iffy. The main story part only takes around 2 hours and that’s pretty much it for the story section. After that you can tackle the Battle Tower and catch all of the Pokemon. Make no mistake, this will take a very long time, but it’d be nice if there was a bit more to do. The normal game takes around 20 hours and the post game is 2 so all in all 22 hours is a great length for any title. There’s not a lot of complaints from me on the length. Sure, it can be longer but you can say the same for any game. The map being super small is pretty noticeable though. I remember having caves with multiple floors and having fun driving around the world map. This game’s map just feels tiny with less areas to check out. Part of that could be just being younger when the other games came out and minus the caves the layouts could be similar. This one does feel a lot smaller though and that’s even with the bike moving way slower than it used to.

The absolute biggest mistake here was definitely getting rid of 400 Pokemon though. This is not something that should have happened. The developers proudly stated not too long ago that they future proofed all of the models so it would be easy to keep on porting them each time. They tried some damage control in recent interviews about how they re-did all the models, but Reddit quickly disproved that. The developers have been spinning a lot of yarns lately but the long and short of it is that they didn’t want to do the extra work. Perhaps there was a time crunch, but they should have been up front about it. It’s also odd that no other part of the game got big improvements as a result. With the time saved from copy and pasting 400 Pokemon you’d expect some new features, but there are none. Part of their explanation was that this way they could bring a fresh experience to the users, but that didn’t happen.

Pokemon Sword is effectively a portable game brought to the Switch. You could play this on the 3DS and aside from the improved graphics you wouldn’t notice anything different. If anything it has less features and content than some of the portables. I believe Pokemon Sun has virtually the same amount of Pokemon as Sword if not more and that was a portable game. This one definitely feels like it was rushed in some areas. Another hint to this is how broken the raid battle system is. It’s very hard to find anyone to join you in a fight which is crazy considering how new the game is and how many people are playing. There’s no way there aren’t 3 other players online at the same time. This seems to be a tech issue with the stamp system the game is using.

All right, lets wrap things up here. The main issue really boils down to the fact that Game Freak owns the Pokemon license and it seems like Nintendo can’t really do anything about it. As a result they don’t actually have to do all that much each time because the franchise is already legendary. In a sense they are like EA in that they give the game a fresh coat of paint and bring it back out to market. As this is the first home console release and there was some whispering during the initial announcement that it was originally planned for 3DS we can cut the company a tine bit of slack. A great game is a great game even if it was given a far lower amount of effort than such a big IP deserved. I just want a proper Pokemon game that has all of the Pokemon available in it though. A true Pokemon Master title where all of the Pokemon are available and we get a solid story and gym battles. That would be awesome.

One thing I’d like to see from the next big Pokemon game is some voice acting though. That’s something that basically all big RPG titles have nowadays. It was also weird to have a Gym Leader whose whole thing is that he’s a singer yet you can’t hear him. You have cutscenes of him silently singing. Voice acting would be a big change to the series, but I think that it’s absolutely worth it. It’s just the kind of thing that will really take the title to the next level.

You’ll definitely appreciate the difficulty level in this game though. While I did not drop a single fight, the computers were always at a very close level. If not for doing a lot of grinding in between gyms then definitely could have taken the edge at some point. This is one game where you will need to do some extra battles as you go through the story or you will end up tasting the sting of defeat. It may be the most difficult Pokemon game if anything as I can’t recall any others where the enemy trainers were always so close in level.

I almost forgot to talk about the game’s new gimmick, Dynamaxing. There’s also Gigantomaxing but it’s basically the same thing. The idea is that it turns your Pokemon huge and then you get to use big attacks. It’s a fun enough gimmick although it’d be nice if you could turn the animations for these off as well. It’s definitely not as good as Mega evolutions which are still the best, but I’ll take it over the Z moves. The best Dynamax Pokemon are the ones who actually get a new design like Charizard. The form just looks cool as a result and feels like a proper super form.

This game definitely gave me some good ideas for future editorials that are Pokemon related. Best champions, rivals, etc. In the meantime though here’s a list of the Pokemon main games from best to worse. I won’t be able to count the Pokemon Johto games or Black/White because those are the only 2 I have yet to play. Pokemon Ruby is definitely still my favorite with that game being perfect in every way. Second is Pokemon Fire Red, just a great game that takes you back to the basics. It was a nostalgia title done right. Third would be Pokemon Y which did a good job of bringing together a modern Pokemon game that took bits and pieces from all the others. Fourth is Pokemon Diamond. It didn’t really do anything unique, but it was just fundamentally sound. Fifth place is Pokemon Sword. A great all around game introducing the series to new audiences. Finally at 6th is Pokemon Sun. Still a great game but I did miss the classic Gym setting and the island angle didn’t really do the trick for me. Although that one did end up with the higher score due to the impressive story. In terms of pure gameplay and aesthetic it couldn’t catch Sword though.

Overall, Pokemon Sword is a great game. After waiting for 20+ years it’s superb to finally be able to play this game on the big screen. Pokemon is perfect for on the go, but it’s also perfect for the couch experience. It’s still the king of the turn based combat formula and by putting it on a big console hopefully people who’ve never had a chance to try it out before can also get in on the action. If you don’t have this game yet then you’ve definitely gotta shell out the cash and pick it up. You don’t want to miss out on the latest installment in the series. It’ll likely be quite a few years until the next one so you’ll want to enjoy it now.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Transistor Review


It’s time to look at a video game I just managed to complete today. It’s not a title that I was familiar with before playing so it’s always fun to enter a game blind. It’s definitely got a very cryptic environment which works well like Bendy or Undertale. Like those games there is a deep plot that you’ll understand if you pay attention and do a lot of the bonus content, but if not then you’ve got the dedicated fans who will spell it out for you online. It’s a fun experience although I do have to give the ending a thumbs down.

The movie starts off with the lead Red as she wakes up next to someone who’s been stabbed. The enemy had tried to destroy her, but they ended up getting this guy instead. When she takes the sword out it talks to her and reveals his name to be Transistor. Red’s voice was unfortunately damaged so she can no longer talk. Red used to be a singer so this was pretty tragic. The whole city (Maybe the whole world?) has been taken over by a robotic army led by the Camerata. Red needs to take them all down and steal their souls to try and find a way to revive Transistor. Unfortunately the entire city is basically a ghost town at this point so she has to wonder how much progress she is actually making.

If you want a more detailed plot definitely check out Wikipedia as they’ve got it all down there. You’ll get the basic plot as you play the game, but don’t expect to learn it all right away since it is part mystery. The pieces start to add up and you’ll come across a lot of news articles and blogs in the game. There are terminals that can be found just about anywhere. You get extra trophies for interacting with everything so it’s not a bad idea to check them all out. Now lets talk about the gameplay. You are able to hum with one button and another lets you sweep a bit. You’ll never need to use either technique, but it’s nice to have them around.

The actual gameplay is Xcom style, but with a dash of real time action. You manuever your character through a sealed off area as you try to eliminate all of the enemies. You can attack in real time with one hit at a time or you can freeze time and use a few actions as a combo. The latter is pretty much mandatory as you progress through the game. Hitting an enemy from behind will deal more damage but then you have to try and calculate their trajectory to land the follow-up hit. There’s a ton of strategy to consider here which is pretty cool. Then you’ve got a robust level up system which unlocks more powers. You have to choose which ones to equip and which to keep on standby as you have very limited space. You also have limiters you can put on which further restricts your memory, but gives you more XP per fight. I turned on every limiter I had until the very final boss.

It was fun to take off my limiters as if this was DBZ and then go wild on the guy. It will ensure you have more of a challenge throughout the game, but in my opinion it’s worth it because every level up helps you out considerably. This is the kind of game where level ups make a huge difference. You also have a beach house you can go to in order to do extra fights and grind some XP as well. There’s no need to do it as the game is challenging, but not crazy. Still, the option is there so you will want to keep it in mind. Also make sure to destroy the enemy cores after you beat the minions since they will revive within 5-8 seconds otherwise.

The actual game is fairly short at about 3-4 hours. You can stretch this out to around 8 or so if you go for everything. I think one of the trophies is for beating the game twice as well so getting the Platinum will take quite a lot of time. It’s a short title, but a fun one so I expect you’ll have a fun time regardless. The deciding factor here will likely be how you enjoy the gameplay. I liked it a lot since strategy is my thing. It’s the kind of “puzzle” in a sense that I can actually enjoy. I also did like the cryptic plot. In a way games can be extra fun when they never tell you what’s going on. You get to fill in all the blanks and whenever a game/film/any kind of media hides things rather than spelling it out I think it works really well. It just adds on to that mystery angle.

The graphics here look pretty good. It’ll remind you of some of the alien games for the Wii. Naturally this isn’t going to look at high end as the average AAA PS4 game, but it’s all still very smooth and leak. I also like the illustrations that pop up after each level. They look quite grand and I’m sure quite a lot of effort was put into them. Some of these are interactive as well so always be sure to stay sharp. As for the soundtrack, I can’t say that it was very memorable. It was cool that we got actual songs though. The song that played during the first level was quite good. I was surprised that we didn’t get many more after that, but considering that it has a full soundtrack I imagine there are a ton more that were created for the game.

As I mentioned the ending isn’t very satisfying though. I can’t really talk about it at all without spoilers, but it didn’t really work. I will say that it’s not all that selfish on Red’s part since as I mentioned there aren’t a lot of people around anymore. I was just against it on principal, but in her shoes its not as if the decision doesn’t make sense. It makes sense for sure, but in the same logic that a lot of villains tend to use in various series. It was unexpected though, I’ll definitely grant the game that. I did not think it was heading in that direction at all.

Overall, Transistor is a fun game. It’s definitely one of those titles that is a lot of fun for the experience. Once you know how things are going to end up I don’t think you would be able to play it through for a second time. At least not for a long while. At the same time the new game + may give you extra story details which would be cool. There is a lot of post game content here as well as you try to max out your level. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend checking it out. I don’t think you should really be paying more than $20 for it though considering the short length. Once you start you will definitely be sucked into it and hopefully we do get a sequel someday. It doesn’t feel very likely based on the ending though.

Overall 7/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Digimon World Championship Review


It’s time to look at a Digimon game that I’ve kept on the backburner for quite a while. This one sounded pretty interesting at first since you could have the Digimon fight each other in real time combat. The problem was that this isn’t the case at all. It’s actually a computer fighting game. By that I mean that the A.I. control the Digimon in combat and all you do is look out for them. It’s a similar mechanic to the Digimon World series, but to a much harsher extent. It’s a game that gets better as you play it, but ultimately you just feel like it’s a bit of a waste. It’s a game that could have been significantly better.

There is no plot here so we can get right to the meat of the game. Naturally that is the tournaments. The game runs on a calendar system (Which is always a terrible idea) so as you play the in game timer moves on. Each hour seems to pass by in about a minute or less. You’ll be running through the days which have no end. There are 4 seasons in the year and they keep on repeating. The first thing you need to do is catch some Digimon. You do this by going into the hunting ground and using your rope to catch them. It’s similar to the Pokemon Ranger system, but a little more tedious and annoying. This is because the Digimon tend to break free of the rope and run away. The screen isn’t always very responsive either so good luck chasing them. Still, eventually you’ll get the Digimon you want. If you want to catch stronger ones then you’ll need a better rope, but for that you need money. You get money by winning fights. These can either be Title Fights, Free Fights, or Championship bouts. Don’t worry about the final category since you need a team of Megas to even attempt such a thing. Title Fights is where I spent 90% of my time but Free Battles is a great way to get started.

Once you finally get your Digimon you have to realize that this is quite the responsibility. Your Digimon need food to eat and they need it at least once a day. They also do their business all over your cages so you have to keep cleaning them or the Digimon feel bad. They catch colds if you don’t put them in the Medical corner too often and they can’t handle 2 attributes at once. This means that if you are increasing their attack power you are weakening their defense and vice versa. The game is made so that there is always a catch which makes training take forever. Whenever you actually have a spare moment you’re expected to run to the store and buy more food and bandages since the Digimon go through them so quickly. They also get depressed for no reason and if they get scared in combat they will refuse to attack. This is always terrible since your Digimon may be strong enough to win, but doesn’t feel like he can so he won’t even try. It’s just such a terrible mechanic and it’s why I rarely like to leave it all in the hands of the A.I.

Well, somehow or other you will finally get around to getting involved in Title Fights. At first your Tamer Rank is 1, but the more medals you earn from these Titles, the more your rank increases. As your rank increases you’ll be able to buy a lot of extra items to make everything easier. It’s made to be one of those games that really encourages you to just keep playing. Get over the initial hump and you’ll really be ready for success. The first few battles are tough, the middle ones are easy, and then the last ones are tough again. I made it all the way to Tamer Rank 5 and won about 20 Titles so I figured that was good enough for the review. Towards the end the tournaments started having a lot of unnecessary conditions like “Only Rookies allowed” or only Holy Digimon allowed. If you don’t have one then you’re sunk since it means training one from scratch or catching it in the wild. Often times these fights are 3 v 3 so you would need to get 3 more. The problem is that you can’t keep too many Digimon in the cage with you or you’ll run out of space. You can see why the game is so frustrating.

Naturally the game also brings back the concept of your Digimon dying. When that happens they are turned back into an egg and you have to start the training back from scratch. Why even put something like that in the game right? It’s a big thing that is in a lot of Digimon games and ultimately ends up holding them back. I just don’t think that it’s a good idea and it makes you not want to invest too much time into any partner. From the start I decided I would stop either when I got enough titles or when my Digimon died. The former happened first, but I was definitely getting close with my guy since he’s been with me for around 3 years I believe.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re fairly zoomed out though and don’t look as good as the average mobile game. It takes a lot for me to say that a game looks bad, but I will concede that it is well below average. You could easily make a game that looks better than this one with just about any company’s budget. The looks aren’t that important, but it doesn’t set a good first impression. As for the soundtrack, it’s as bland as can be. There are only a few themes and none of them are particularly noteworthy. At least they’re not bad though.

As for replay value, the game technically has a lot there. With your Digimon constantly dying or needing your attention, you could play this game for many hours. That being said, I don’t imagine that you would have a ton of fun with this so I wonder how long you would last. This is probably the weakest Digimon game yet which is unfortunate. Hopefully the Digimon World series is basically over or gets an overhaul since it just doesn’t seem to hit the right notes. Only Digimon World 4 seems to have been really well made and that one was a radical change from the others.

Overall, Digimon World Championship will test your baby sitting skills. It’s basically the only way to keep the Digimon in line. I’ve ranted about the game long enough though. It still isn’t a bad game and I did have fun grabbing the titles once I got more powerful Digimon. The problem is that in order to get all of the titles you would have to repeat this process many times over which is just something that I wouldn’t plan on doing. Even when you have a strong enough team to win, a large part of the battle depends on luck and the whims of the A.I. I just don’t think that would work for me. If this sounds like your cup of tea then by all means go for it. It’s definitely a fairly unique game I suppose.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review


There are a few games that you see as a kid but simply weren’t able to get because they were too pricey or simply lost out to other games at the moment. This is one of them and I decided that it had simply been enough time of not owning the game. It’s a solid Pokémon adventure but one that keeps the negatives of Colosseum without embracing its positives making this a rather lackluster title compared to the others in the franchise. It’s a relatively weak Pokémon installment but certainly still a solid entry overall.

The game takes place 5 years after Colosseum. Terry has seemingly retired or something as he is nowhere to be found. However a new protagonist has arrived, Terry. I’ll put the older version in bold to differentiate them. Terry is a nice kid who helps out a professor when performing his crazy experiments. This Professor has hit the jackpot though as he has figured out a way to purify Pokémon through your PC. It takes a little longer but this way you don’t have to personally fight alongside each Shadow Pokémon for a while. Of course, buying Perfume is still the easiest way to go about it but it’s only viable if you have a lot of money. The villains over at Cipher hear about this and steal the device. The organization had seemingly been destroyed in the last game but they have regrouped and are stronger than ever. They now want to make the ultimate Shadow Pokémon who cannot be purified. Terry decides to stop them but as the professionals would say, “What can some kid do!”

Terry is a good main character. He gets the job done and is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately he also doesn’t have a shred of character personality. I’m serious here, he doesn’t do anything. He saves the day and beats all of his opponents but he doesn’t really have any expressions beyond his neutral face so it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. Ah well, he’s still a good lead who doesn’t mess around so I’ll roll with it. You just can’t compare him to Terry as that guy really stole the show with his cool motorcycle and trench coat. The character was more of a rebel and was always making the tough calls.

The blame may also lie in part with how low key this story is compared to the last one. It’s fairly short as it ends in only 13 hours so you feel like they could have done more with it. It’s mostly just a matter of showing up to each location and winning. Their big plan of creating a bunch of Shadow Pokémon to take over the world is solid I suppose. It just never felt like as big of an adventure as it really should have. More like a sequel dlc than anything else. It’s not as if it’s a slice of life adventure or anything as it’s still about action but it just doesn’t come across as all that dramatic.

Further supporting this is the fact that the game feels rather low budget. Almost all of the stages in the game are taken straight from Colosseum. I somehow doubt that they were rebuilt from the ground up either. The budget just begins to show itself. Just about every character has the same fall animation and even the length is artificial. If you didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again in battles that are basically 10 minutes long each time, it would be a lot shorter. Honestly if we just look at the plot moments then the game would probably be half its length.

Now Colosseum has this problem as well so it’s not XD exclusive but the long loading times for each battle need to be mentioned as it’s an issue that has plagued the home console Pokémon games for a long time. Even Battle Revolution has this to an extent and Yugioh is another offender. On the portable consoles the battles go by very quickly which is why they’re fun. On the big consoles I guess they want to show off the graphics as every Pokémon gets a big animation for attacking and getting hit. There is no way to turn this off which is why every battle takes forever. I actually ended up marathoning Detective Conan while playing this game. Just pick the two attacks you want to use and read in the meantime. You’ll be surprised (Or not really) at how many chapters you are able to read while waiting.

As a result, I knew from the start that leveling all of my 6 Pokemon was not going to be a good idea. Instead what I did was I just picked two of them and focused on them exclusively. I basically didn’t even use the other Pokemon and if my main 2 died I just knew that it was game over. It was a risky strategy sure, but it saved me a lot of time. I’m definitely glad that I started out with Espeon as well since Psychic attacks are good against just about everyone and Espeon even knows Bite so he can shut down other Psychic types. It’s the perfect starter and I highly recommend using that strategy if you ever play this game.

The soundtrack is decent. A lot of classic themes are in here so those are nostalgic, but not much in the way of new ones. I believe the final boss theme may have been new but since it appears whenever the trio of villains shows up it may have been in the first game as well. Hard to say, but if so then it loses some points for originality. The graphics are pretty good. They haven’t really changed at all since the first one, but I guess in this case you don’t really need to change things up. As long as it looks clear enough where I can tell what I’m doing and enjoy the backgrounds, then it’s all good. The game definitely gets a passing score there.

As far as replay value goes, there is certainly a lot of it. The main game is around 13 hours so that’s already a good length and throwing in all of the Shadow Pokemon that you can catch just makes it all the more impressive. You could stick with this game for a Very long time and still have more to do. With how long the Pokemon battles take I wonder how long it would be to complete the Tower of 100 Pokemon battles. I think the most devastating part would be making it into the 90s and then losing though. Now that would just be tragic and I don’t plan on tackling that challenge. After all, I’d have to level up all 6 of my Pokemon to stand a chance and we know that would take a while. Still, for those who really enjoy this game there’s definitely a bunch to do.

Definitely don’t get the wrong idea, Pokemon XD is a solid game. It may not fare well against the original in any category, but it’s a good game when standing on its own. The plot is decent, there are a variety of levels, and there are a bunch of fights. The gameplay is slow, but it’s smooth and it looks/sounds good as well. The game will breeze by as long as you have something to do during the fights, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Purifying a Shadow Pokemon may seem tedious at first, but once you buy perfume and unlock the second way to purify them then it gets very easy. I’m not sure about some of the extra features like leaving Pokemon some food to try and capture them since it adds luck to the equation and stretches the game out even further, but maybe it’s handy to have around. All I know is that I’m really glad I stopped to read the email and went back to the lab to grab my Master Ball. Without it the Lugia fight could have actually been difficult as opposed to just catching him on my first turn.

Overall, I have finally gotten to play the sequel to one of my favorite Pokemon games of all time. I definitely recommend the game. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you haven’t played Colosseum and if you played it when you were a kid then you’ll also enjoy this game for all of the nostalgia. Just don’t play both games back to back as that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Sequels can’t always beat the original and I’ll have to accept that, but this is one big game that I can check off my list. My Gamecube collection is one step closer to being completed as well as I have just about every interesting game for the console. More are still on the way for someday though, but the next game I review will be a newer title. It involves the iconic Pac-Man in one of his startling adventures!