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Pokémon Stadium

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Nintendo

Developer:

HAL Laboratory

Released:

March 2000

ROM Size:

256 megabits

Players:

One to Four Simultaneous

Genre:

Strategy/Simulation

Save:

Cartridge

Optional:

Transfer Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Introduction

Just when you think Pokémania has been quenched, Nintendo comes out with the latest product that's sure to go platinum. Pokémon Stadium, the second Pokémon game (after Pokémon Snap) for Nintendo 64, is another niche product for the system. But it's a very cool product. Now you can take any of the 151 monsters from the Game Boy game and fight them in 3D on your N64. That is the main draw of this game, but, as you will find, many other features are available that make Pokémon Stadium a must-have for any Pokémon fan.

Gameplay & Control

Pokemon Stadium comes packaged with the brand-new Transfer Pak. The Transfer Pak, which is also compatible with Mario Golf and other forthcoming games (e.g., Perfect Dark), enables you to share data between Game Boy and N64 games. You simply plug any Transfer Pak-compatible Game Boy game into the Transfer Pak. Then just snap the Transfer Pak into the back of your controller. The Transfer Pak is bulkier than the Rumble Pak and a little more obtrusive. However, it's highly stable without making things uncomfortable.

 

A wealth of game modes is available in Pokémon Stadium, and this helps make the game a worthy addition to any Pokémon fan's library. Let's get this out of the way, however: If you're not a Pokémon fan and don't have the Game Boy game, then there's no sense in purchasing Pokémon Stadium. The only enjoyment out of Pokémon Stadium comes from the use of the monsters you caught and trained through the Game Boy version.

 

Upon starting the game and loading data from your Game Boy game, five menu choices are available to Pokémon trainers: Battle Now!, Pokémon Stadium, Event Battle, Gallery, and Options.

 

First, the ability to set Options is rather limited. You can switch the sound between stereo and monaural, turn the play-by-play announcer's voice on or off, and delete all data saved to the Game Pak. Second, Gallery, which is an addition to the American version over the Japanese version, lets you snap pictures and create stickers of your very own Pokémon. The background can be changed, you can add or remove the Pokémon's name to the picture, and the Pokémon can be photographed from any angle and from any distance.

 

Then you can take your Pokémon Stadium Game Pak to any Pokémon Snap Station to print photos from your album as stickers. Pokémon Snap fans are already familiar with this option; Pokémon Stadium takes it a step further by letting you create stickers for all 151 Pokémon, not just the 60 or so in Pokémon Snap, and by letting you get a picture from your desired angle.

 

Before discussing the actual game modes, let's describe how to battle Pokémon. First of all, you'll need to choose six Pokémon that you might use for battle. Then you'll choose three of those Pokémon to go into battle. (All six Pokémon may be used on occasion.) Different modes have different rules for Pokémon that may be used. If you don't meet the requirements, then don't worry, because "Rental Pokémon" are available. They're built into the Pokémon Stadium Game Pak. So you can use solely your own Pokémon, you can use only Rental Pokémon, and you can create a combination of homegrown and Rental Pokémon. The downside to Rental Pokémon is that they aren't as powerful as the Pokémon you would have trained yourself.

 

If you're familiar with Pokémon on Game Boy, then you know exactly how battles ensue in Pokemon Stadium. The turn-based RPG formula is still intact. Strategy with the Pokémon types remains the most important aspect, as you need a balanced team. You may not, however, use any items during any of your battles. All your Pokémon are healed completely after each battle, anyway. Also, you must re-pick your team (from the pool of six you originally put together) before each battle, so don't think that you're stuck with the same three Pokémon throughout an entire quest.

 

Batting itself is just like the Game Boy game. The Pokémon will fight in the order that you picked them at the Select Pokémon screen. Your Pokémon's moves are assigned to the C buttons. The order of the moves is taken directly from the Game Boy game. So that means Top C is its first move listed, Right C is its second listed move, Bottom C is its third move, and Left C is its fourth move listed. You can hold the R button to check your moves list during battle, but it's a good idea to memorize the buttons, especially when playing against a human opponent. Pressing the L button will bring up the Strategy Selection screen, which gives you options to battle, change Pokémon, or run. Interestingly, that means items cannot be used in battles. Finally, Nintendo decided to make the Control Pad, not the Control Stick, the method of control for the battles.

 

Now let's take an in-depth look at the game modes. The Battle Now! mode, which is for one or two players, is just a quick battle using pre-formed, well-balanced teams of Rental Pokémon. Your own Pokémon cannot be used here. The mode is only useful if you want to play some two-player matches when your opponent doesn't have his or her own Pokémon.

 

Event Battle is for two players only. It's the cream of the two-player crop. Two Transfer Paks are required to play this mode, however. Using Pokémon data from each player's Game Boy games, you can play according to the rules of the various cups in Pokémon Stadium, which is a mode that will be discussed shortly. Up to six Pokémon will be used in battle. You can tweak battle and move selection times and can get visual confirmation of the rules of each Cup. Even if only one Pokémon does not meet a particular Cup rule, then that Cup cannot be played.

 

The Pokémon Stadium icon leads you to the Pokémon Trainers' Plaza, which is where the bulk of the game lies. Stadium, Free Battle, Gym Leader Castle, Pokémon Lab, Victory Palace, GB Tower, and Kids' Club are your choices within this screen.

 

The Stadium mode is a one-player tournament. Four different Cups are initially available, and each Cup has rules for entry. Before that, however, you should know that six different Pokémon that meet the Cup's requirement are needed to enter. Then you select three of those six before each battle. The goal is to make all of your opponent's Pokémon faint.

 

Three rules exist for all battle modes, though. First, during battle, you cannot make two or more of your opponent's Pokémon SLEEP at the same time or FREEZE at the same time. But you can make one SLEEP and another FREEZE at the same time. Second, neither trainer may use SELFDESTRUCT or EXPLOSION with their final Pokémon. This results in an automatic disqualification. And third, straight from the instruction booklet: "No Pokémon enhanced or altered by a trick, code, quirk or enhancement device may be used."

 

The four Cups initially available are Poké Cup, Prime Cup, Pika Cup, and Petit Cup. With the Poké Cup, only level 50-55 Pokémon can attend. The combined level of your selected three Pokémon cannot be more than 155. Finally, Mew can't attend. With the Prime Cup, there aren't any limits on entry levels. All enemy Pokémon, however, are level 100. Even Mew can attend this Cup. With the Pika Cup, only Pokémon between levels 15 and 20 can attend and the combined level of all three must be no more than 50. Needless to say, Mew cannot be used here. Finally, with the Petit Cup, very specific rules exist. First, only Pokémon with a maximum height of 6'8" and a maximum weight of 44 pounds can take part. Second, the Pokémon's levels must be between 25 and 30 with a combined level of no more than 80. Third, Mew can't attend this Cup.

 

The Free Battle mode lets one to four players compete in battles with your favorite Pokémon and favorite settings. Besides being the only four-player Pokémon battle option, Free Battle is also the only mode in which two players can share a single Transfer Pak. It's not exactly like "hot swapping" Controller Paks and Rumble Paks, however. So if your friend has Pokémon for Game Boy, but hasn't picked up Pokémon Stadium or a Transfer Pak yet, then you can register (a.k.a. save) Player 2's desired Entry Pokémon on the Pokemon Stadium Game Pak by starting the game with their data. Then you turn off the game, insert your Game Boy game into the Transfer Pak, and enter the Free Battle mode. Player 1 chooses his or her Pokémon like usual and Player 2 just picks Registration to retrieve their data. Even a veteran game reviewer like me, along with my friend, had a little trouble with this confusing interface at first.

 

With the one-on-one Free Battle mode, you can choose to play with the rules of the four Cups or with the "Anything Goes" rule. Six Pokémon are entered into the contest, but only three are secretly chosen. You can play against the computer on three difficulty levels as well.

 

Tag-Team Battles also are available within the Free Battle mode. Player 1 can play by himself or herself or can join with Players 2, 3, or 4. Then that team will battle against Players 2, 3, or 4—individually or as a team of two—or against the computer by itself. With Tag-Team Battles, the rule must be set to "Anything Goes." Each participating player will still select six Entry Pokémon, but only three will enter battle for a total six Pokémon on each team. During battle, a Trainer can only command the Pokémon he or she has chosen.

 

Gym Leader Castle is a very cool option that lets you battle the Gym Leaders of Pokémon: Red Version, Blue Version, and Yellow Version. You must defeat a few beginning trainers before battling the Gym Leaders in order, leading up to the Elite Four. This mode, which is only for one player, has no limitations on the Pokémon you may enter. You had better be prepared, however, because the first trainer's Pokémon start at level 50.

 

A very, very cool option for die-hard Pokémon fans is the Pokémon Lab. You can use it to arrange Pokémon and items on your Game Boy game and to save Pokémon and items onto your Pokémon Stadium Game Pak. The PC lets you arrange, add, remove, and exchange Pokémon, items, and boxes. You even can save Pokémon and items that do not fit in your Game Boy game's memory onto the Pokémon Stadium Game Pak. So it would be a good idea to save your powerful and rare Pokémon to the Nintendo 64 game. When you move a Pokémon from your Party or from a GB Box, it's erased from the memory of the Game Boy game.

 

If you want to use that Pokémon on the Game Boy again, then you just have to transfer it back from the N64 game to the Game Boy game. Since multiple players can share Pokémon in the N64 box, you can give Pokémon to your friends without trading. Items, however, can only be returned to the Game Boy game from which they were originally removed. So that means you can't give items to your friends.

 

Within the Pokémon Lab, other options exist, too. By using "See List," which is under the PC option, you can check the status of your Pokémon. Status includes the Pokémon's original name, the nickname you gave it, the ID number (this tells you which Game Pak it came from), moves, levels, and more. An updated version of the "Pokédex" from the Game Boy game has been included as well. You can read data on each Pokémon, listen to its cry, and see a 3D map of the area it naturally inhabits. In addition, it's possible to trade Pokémon within the Pokémon Lab if you have two Transfer Paks. Make sure both Game Boy games have been saved at a Pokémon Center, though.

 

Victory Palace is another option from the Pokémon Trainers' Plaza. Statues of Pokémon that have been victorious in either the Stadium or Gym Leader Castle are placed here. Then you can view data about that Pokémon and the victory that put it in the Hall of Fame.

 

Besides battling Pokémon in 3D, GB Tower is the other main reason to purchase Pokémon Stadium. It lets you play the Game Boy Pokémon game on your TV using the N64. It works just like the Super Game Boy for Super NES, meaning it's just the Game Boy game blown up on your TV with no enhancements, except only Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow can be played using the Transfer Pak. No other Game Boy games will work. This is a godsend, because Super Game Boy is extremely difficult to find. Better yet, a secret can be unlocked to play Game Boy Pokémon much, much faster on your N64 than on your Game Boy.

 

Finally, the Kids' Club is the requisite multi-player mode. Four players always participate, so the computer will take control of those who aren't human. You can think of the mini-games in the Kids' Club as watered down, much simpler versions of mini-games like those found in Mario Party. You can either "Pick a Game" yourself or choose "Who's the Best?" In "Who's the Best?" the first mini-game is determined randomly. Then the player with the fewest wins gets to pick the mini-games after that. Once someone reaches the set number of wins, he or she is the champion.

 

Nine mini-games are available in Kids' Club: Magikarp's Splash, Clefairy Says, Run Rattata Run, Snore War, Thundering Dynamo, Sushi-Go-Round, Ekans Hoop Hurl, Rock Harden, and Dig! Dig! Dig! All mini-games having extremely simple play control, usually involving nothing more than the Control Stick and a button. The games themselves range from ridiculously easy to surprisingly challenging. Still, the Kids' Club is called just that for a reason: Older gamers will get bored quickly with them.

Graphics & Sound

One of the best benefits of Pokémon Stadium is seeing your trained Pokémon from the Game Boy game come alive in 3D. All 151 pocket monsters are depicted with a high level of accuracy. In fact, kids may not notice much difference from the cartoon. The Pokémon seem life-like, too, with a lot of animation that shows them stagger, stumble, fight, walk, react, and celebrate. Some Pokémon have different facial expressions, too.

 

Battle animation, the supposed hallmark of the game, certainly impresses. The battle animation doesn't get as extravagant as, say, the magic in Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation, but the special effects bring the Pokémon's attacks to life. Quick-cut camera angles, close-ups, and a rotating ring give a TV-like look to the battles.

 

The sound in Pokemon Stadium could have been so much better. Nintendo did license Factor 5's voice compression technology, but it was used to include a play-by-play announcer. Wouldn't it have been great if music and Pokémon sound effects from the cartoon were included instead? As such, the play-by-play just isn't necessary. First off, the sound quality isn't up to par with Nintendo's usual efforts. Second, he proves that he's the master of the obvious with his commentary. Do I really need to be told that the Pokémon battling are two different types, or that they're waiting for me to pick my next Pokémon, or that there's a difference in the number of reserved Pokémon? The rest of the commentary is play-by-play announcing of what the Pokémon are doing, how effective was the hit, what the Trainer is doing, and other observations. Fans of the Game Boy game will notice updated versions of theme songs, too, but they're not much improved.

Conclusion

Pokémon Stadium is about as cool as you can get without starting from scratch with a brand new role-playing game in the series. Every owner of Pokémon for Game Boy must get this game to experience the aura of battling in 3D. If you don't have an N64, then Nintendo is offering the Pokémon Stadium Set to get you started.

 

Wisely, Nintendo included many other options and features so you'll continue to play this game over and over once the novelty of 3D battles wears off. In fact, for many, the ability to play the Game Boy game on the N64 a la Super Game Boy is worth the price of admission itself. It has been a long time coming, but Pokemon Stadium was worth the wait.

 

Graphics:

4.5

Sound:

3.0

Control:

4.4

Gameplay:

4.5

Lastability

4.7

OVERALL:

4.5

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: March 11, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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