Pokemon Colosseum – Game Notes

Taking notes of the games I play has become a routine of mine. This is especially helpful when I play an RPG. Now Pokemon Colosseum isn’t necessarily the most convoluted example of the genre, but there are some key points I needed to remember during my playthrough. Plus, since I’ve been nicknaming every Pokemon that I can, giving them a greater sense of uniqueness, it’s kind of fun to keep in-depth records of each.

So follow along if you will, with my session-to-session notes on my Pokemon Colosseum progress.

Continue reading Pokemon Colosseum – Game Notes

Power Drift [Arcade] – Review

For a month or two, Power Drift sat in a backroom corner of PJ Gamers. Not functioning, there wasn’t a reason to place it alongside the likes of Gyruss or Star Wars Trilogy Arcade. It was around this time that I was experiencing Shenmue II and developing an appreciation for Yu Suzuki. Being one of his lesser known games, I was interested in playing it. Released in 1988, I’d only recently read about it in a Retro Gamer profile of Yu Suzuki. Thankfully, it’s operational now, and although it lacks the fun hydraulic cockpit (it’s a stand-up cabinet), it’s unique.

The camera was usually in this cockeyed position as I drifted around the courses.
The camera was usually in this cockeyed position as I drifted around the courses.

What makes it unique amongst other racing games that could’ve been found in an eighties arcade are the roller coaster-inspired race tracks. These tracks feature massive climbs and drops and every turn is an opportunity to kick out the rear wheels and drift around competitors. The visuals helped sell the roller coaster feel of the tracks thanks to a sprite-scaling effect. As the name implies, the sprites grew and shrunk seamlessly as I played the game. This was doubly impressive as the game ran at a very fast clip. Watching the tracks rise, fall, and twist was mesmerizing – like watching a snake slither in the sand.

As with most arcade games, it didn’t take me long to understand what to do and how to do it. Progressing in the game became tough quickly though. I forewent ever hitting the brakes and instead began massaging the gas pedal around corners. Falling off ledges and colliding with other drivers was the key to success. The latter was challenging; I didn’t feel like I had the level of control over my racer as I’d like. Of course I also was zooming around stages NEVER HITTING THE BRAKES! Sometimes the hit detection seemed a little dodgy too, perhaps forming my opinion of the controls. It’s clear that to get a higher score and experience more stages, I’ll need to evolve my strategies. It’s a fun and unique game, especially to watch, but the loose controls took me a while to adapt to.

The Box Art of Gyruss

I’m going to skip over posting about the box art for Pokemon Colosseum as there wasn’t much difference between the various regional releases. Gyruss on the other hand, so a handful of releases in the early eighties.
Gyruss - ColecovisionParker Brothers published the early home versions and used the above box art for these releases. Those looking to play a home conversion of the Konami arcade shooter were in luck if they owned an Atari 2600, 5200, Coloecovision, Atari 8-bit computer, or a Commodore 64. The cover depicts a triangular space station. Perhaps these are the satellites that surround the power-ups in the game?

Gyruss - NESThe next set of home conversions came courtesy of Konami themselves. Released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan and the NES here in America, this box art evoked the stage progression of the game. Many planets are ahead of our starship pilot and there’s even the attention to detail noting the tubular nature of the gameplay. Very impressive! The FDS box art is practically the same and can be seen as the featured image to this post, kind of.

And that’s pretty much it for home conversions of Gyruss. It has been featured on a few arcade compilations published by Konami, but they don’t do those too often. Beyond those, it was released onto Xbox Live Arcade very early in the Xbox 360’s lifespan. This was a pure emulation of the original arcade game with little distinguishing features. Gyruss appears to be a game that hasn’t won over a lot of people. Regardless, it’s a stupendous golden age arcade game.

Gyruss [Arcade] – Review

Having grown up in the 1990s and 2000s, I didn’t really have the opportunity to spend time at an arcade. When PJ Gamers opened up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and did so with dozens of arcade cabinets, I was excited. More so than any other, Gyruss has captivated me. It’s a 1983 space shooter emulating the gameplay styles of Galaga and Tempest, in fantastic fashion. Besides featuring pure gameplay that’s so common in most arcade classics, a high score competition between my friend and I has kept me hooked.

Blasting that orange sphere granted the double blaster power-up.
Blasting that orange sphere granted the double blaster power-up.

Controlling a spaceship and having it revolve around the screen in a tubular manner took some getting used to. The spaceship mirrored the position of the joystick, which I haven’t experienced too often. Likewise, the waves of enemy spacecraft entered the screen any which way across the twenty unique stages. There were enough enemy types and wave formations to keep the game fresh and the sole power-up was fun to obtain, and definitely worthwhile. Another holdover from Galaga were the challenging stages breaking up the pace. Memorization proved to be influential in succeeding, but so too were quick reflexes and calmness.

Blasting an enemy wave early on.
Blasting an enemy wave early on.

Having spent enough time learning the gameplay and adapting to the rule set, success was ultimately, in my hands. After a month or so, my friend still reigns supreme with a score only 10,000 or so more than 200,000 odd points. I’ve lost the fire to try multiple times a week, but I do give it a shot every time I visit PJ Gamers. Gyruss has tuned into one of my favorite arcade games and I believe it to be incredibly indicative of the golden age of arcades. This, because of its pure, simple gameplay and rule set and its emulation of the pioneers that came before it. Ironically, these elements make it feel unique, while still feeling so similar to its golden age contemporaries.

Kingdom Rush [Android] – Review

Completing Kingdom Rush earlier this month represented the first time I’ve beaten a tower defense game, let alone played one for more than a few minutes. It’s a popular genre to dig on, and I was cold on it initially. My many nighttime sessions with it turned me around on the genre though as it slowly ramped up the complexity. As the complexity increased, so too did the enjoyment I garnered from squashing the always pressing enemy waves.

To me, an admitted genre layman, the game seemed very typical. Enemy waves traveled snaking pathways attempting to bust through my side of the screen. If too many got through, it’d be game over. At my disposal were four tower types and many upgrades that I could build, money permitting, at predetermined spots along the pathways. I could also summon foot soldiers and command a very powerful hero. Most of the strategy stemmed from which towers and upgrades I chose and my placement of them.

But don't take my word for it!
But don’t take my word for it!

Playing through and scoring 3 stars out of 3 on stages wasn’t challenging. For the most part, it was a pushover, requiring me to restart only in the later stages. Upon completion of each stage though, two much tougher variations are unlocked. I’ve since tested my strategies out on a few of these, and my strategies need work. Much like the Mario games, most of the challenge is on the backend. Kingdom Rush kept me entertained with an always expanding fleet of defenses and it was a great fit for my Nexus 7.

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 1 – Pokemon Colosseum

When I last did a write-up on my grand Pokémon ambition, I laid out the concept and discussed briefly my experience with the game I chose to play first, LeafGreen for the Game Boy Advance. In an effort to keep the experience fresh, I decided to play Colosseum next. This was an astute decision as Colosseum is different from the traditional handheld Pokémon games. In fact, that very reason was why I disliked the game when it played it 2004, but enjoyed it in 2013 – it was different.

Unlike the traditional handheld games, Colosseum featured a predetermined set of Pokémon to capture. Following along with a guide found on serebii.net, I made sure to snag each of the 48 Shadow Pokémon. After all, if I did so and purified them, and completed the 100-trainer Mt. Battle, I’d receive a Ho-oh. Well worth 50 or 60 hours, eh? Currently, I’ve snagged every available Pokémon and have purified all but 4. It’ll take me a few more hours to get that done. Then I can begin the Mt. Battle challenge, which I estimate will, again, take a few more hours, hopefully no more than 10. At that point, I’ll have clocked about 55 hours with game (definitely more when factoring in all the times I failed to snag tougher Pokémon).

I also have the preorder bonus disc for this game. This is notable as I’ll be able to transfer a Jirachi into my Game Boy Advance games. There was also a Japanese bonus disc that included Celebi and Pikachu. I’ve seen some of these discs on eBay and I would be able to get the disc to work despite the region coding, but they’re expensive. The cheapest I’ve found was $70, which is too much for only two Pokémon. At least, it’s too much at this point. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve captured everyone else. The Japanese version also had three e-Reader exclusive Pokémon – Togepi, Mareep, and Scizor. Scizor would be cool, but then I’d have to import the actual game, as well as the set of e-Reader cards. I find that possibility more unlikely than me purchasing the Japanese bonus disc.

The ultimate goal for this idea of mine is to have a slew of Pokémon (perhaps all???) contained in a single game. They’ll have come from my many different avatars, as well as other trainers, of the NPC and IRL kind. Due to this fact, I’ll be able to level them much faster (Pokémon from other trainers earn bonus experience). Having them come from multiple trainers will also be a boon when breeding. Also, I’ll have quite the stable of legendary Pokémon; duplicates of many. Anyways, that’s where I’m at currently – just about finished with Colosseum. My next step is to return to the GBA to play Emerald for the first time.

Pokemon Colosseum [GameCube] – Review

Pokemon ColosseumReleased back in 2004, Pokémon Colosseum was Nintendo’s first attempt at making a full-scale console RPG out of their Pokémon series. Having been an avid fan at the time it was originally released, I remember being severely let down by the nontraditional take on the Pokémon formula. My teenage self couldn’t even bother to complete the game, despite the allure of trading some truly worthy Pokémon into Pokémon Ruby. Think of all the free time I had then! I’m revisiting the game now as a part of my grand Pokémon ambition, and I came away enjoying it more than I originally did for the exact reason I disliked it then – it’s different.

Double battles all the way in this game.
Double battles all the way in this game.

Wes, the player’s avatar, is a mute antihero attempting to foil the plans of the nefarious gang he recently betrayed. Alongside a spunky girl named Rui, who is the only known person able to detect Shadow Pokémon, the duo set about snagging and purifying all Pokémon that have had their hearts corrupted. I thought the storyline and characters were ridiculously simple, although some were just plain ridiculous. Of course, I didn’t begin this game with expectations of a riveting story. In fact, I don’t think anyone plays these games for their story; it’s the gameplay that draws people in.

The backdrop of the game is the Orre region, and as it is rather desolate, and a little more rough-and-tumble than other regions, there aren’t any wild Pokémon. The only method of building one’s collection in this game is snagging Shadow Pokémon from other trainers, which goes against everything that had been ingrained in the series up to this point. Once they’ve been snagged, they need to be rehabilitated through use in battle, among other procedures. While battling, Shadow Pokémon may enter Hyper Mode from time to time. While in this mode, their chances of striking a critical-hit increase, however, they may also ignore orders. Calling their name will calm them down.

A second distinguishing feature of this game is the battles themselves. For the duration of the storyline, every battle is a double battle. Each trainer plays with two active Pokémon. I really enjoyed the developer’s dedication to this feature. Most other games only feature double battles intermittently, which in a way, dilutes their appeal. Instead, the opportunity presented itself to build my party around combinations that made sense. I didn’t necessarily strategize in such a way, but the other trainers sure did; the combination of Earthquake and floating Pokémon did grow to be annoying.

Cities and dungeons weren't as much a part of this game.
Cities and dungeons weren’t as much a part of this game.

Due to the structure of the game, there is a set number of obtainable Pokémon. Following the storyline and having an inquisitive nature will generally result in catching snagging them all. Once the game has been completed, players can freely trade between Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. There is also Mt. Battle, a 100-trainer challenge, and a few multiplayer battling modes. Should one snag and purify every Pokémon and complete Mt. Battle, they’ll be awarded a Ho-oh – my current quest.

Mirror B. is one of the goofier antagonists.
Mirror B. is one of the goofier antagonists.

Back in the day, I couldn’t get beyond Colosseum’s differences from the Game Boy Advance games. I simply wanted one of those games with full-scale console graphics, nothing more and nothing less. Instead, Nintendo and developer Genius Sonority developed a different type of Pokémon game. Coming to it now, and with tempered expectations, I actually really enjoyed myself. The gameplay differences kept it fresh as I was coming to it having just completed LeafGreen – a very traditional game. Not only that, getting to see so many Pokémon visualized in respectable 3D was exciting for me. This isn’t your grandfather’s Pokémon game.