Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness (GameCube) Review

By James Temperton 18.12.2005

There is something eerily familiar about Pokémon XD, almost as if we have been here before. About a year ago there was something hugely exciting about ripping open a full 3D Pokémon RPG, the possibilities, and the chance of gaming greatness. It was a very nice little title, scoring 8.0/10 last June. In November 2005 we come to review the next step in Pokémon evolution, and there is a distinct whiff of déjà vu...

To an extent we feel cheated here. On the GameBoy each iteration of the Pokémon franchise has been a tarted up version of the one that preceded it but we could accept that as the original one was so amazingly fantastic. Nintendo have obviously moved over the ingenious formula to the GameCube franchise and failed miserably. The original was not an industry-shaking game; it was good, but not stunning. So, why would someone want to take the template from a flawed game, chop it about a bit and release it again a year later? Madness...

That’s not to say this is a hideously bad game that should be shot for crimes against cute little Pikachu and friends, but it is certainly not what we were expecting from what will probably be the GameCube’s Poké-swansong. RPGs are prone to moving along a little slowly at times, but this game starts at a positive dead-snail pace. Everything is explained very slowly, in far too much detail and there is no real way to get past it. Thankfully, the game does open up and get better after an hour or two. And when it does, it is slightly disappointing. We actually dug out our copy of Pokémon Colosseum to confirm our fears. Indeed, it would seem that Genius Sonority (the developer) have lifted nearly fifty percent of the original title and plopped it down into this one. Locations, gameplay elements, characters.

The basic premise of the game remains the same, walk about the Pokémon world collecting and battling Pokémon, solve some simple puzzles every so often and stare in amazement at the same scenery you saw last time out. The (slow) start to the game starts with a overview of the storyline, you see some ships at see being hijacked and from here the lead character is explained, the setting is explained, the world is explained and your chance to take a tea break arises. Once again, you catch the mysterious shadow Pokémon who you then have to cleanse but the game walks you through it all, which is slightly annoying.

Screenshot for Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness on GameCube

We are being a bit unfair on this game though; our main gripe is that it is far too similar to its predecessor in far too many ways. But it does improve on it in man ways too! Firstly, it looks better, even the locales stolen from Colosseum have been revamped a bit and the whole game looks lovely and stylised. The gameplay has been beefed up significantly too, for the first time you can catch Pokémon in the wild as well as in battle. This may sound appealing to begin with, but it is sadly a bit of a letdown. The game is nowhere near as expansive and large as it should be, meaning that ‘wild’ Pokémon tend to hang round in the same sorts of places and take about as much finding as a black BNP supporter.

This is one big game, and there is plenty to keep you amused. The multiplayer element is one of the best fun, allowing you to transfer over Pokémon from your GBA using the link cable. This was certainly one of our favourite aspects in Pokémon Colosseum and it has been built upon for this sequel. The battles do feel a bit slow though and are not quite as fun as the Pokémon Stadium or even the GBA versions. Still, if you’re Poké-mad, you will lap it all up with gusto.

The gameplay is great fun, it’s varied, its interesting and so long as you can get past the fact that this game isn’t much of an update from the previous version, you are in for something of a treat. Capturing a ‘cleansing’ the dark Pokémon is still a nice touch (even if it was used last time) and makes the game enough of a departure from the GBA versions to be worthwhile.

Screenshot for Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Considering this is probably the last home console Pokémon title of this generation, we are a tad disappointed with this title. It has copied far too much of the original GameCube title and refuses to expand or try anything different. Still, gripes aside it is a very solid game that will no doubt delight all the many millions of Pokémon fans out there. We enjoyed it greatly at times, but we can’t help feeling cheated. Approach with caution, particularly if you own Pokémon Colosseum, or just hate the squeaking little rats, but then that’s a given really...

Developer

Genius Sonority

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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