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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Role-Playing Game

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Genius Sonority

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 28, 2005

 

 

- Pokemon fans can jump right in

- It's a game parents can sit down and play with their kids

- Battles are good

 

 

- Some of the later battles feel like they last forever

- Sweeter than sugar sensibility will drive off some

- No real chance to just go exploring

 

 

Review: Pokemon Emerald (GBA)

Review: Pokemon Dash (DS)

Review: Black & White 2 (PC)

Review: Nintendogs (DS)

 

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Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

I freely admit that my first outing with a Pokémon game – the relatively recent Emerald on GameBoy Advance – hooked my on the formula.  Although not as versed in arcane Pokémon mythology as many 9-year olds, I still manage to have fun.  With Pokémon XD Gale of Darkness some of the luster is taken off by an emphasis on style and accessibility than any noticeable improvements to the basic gameplay.

 

pokemon xd gale of darkness review          pokemon xd gale of darkness review

 

Gale of Darkness revolves around a bunch of Shadow Pokémon that have had “their hearts closed” and are being controlled by an evil syndicate to accomplish some dark plan and it falls to you to open their hearts by “purifying” them.  WARNING: If the setup reminds you of the Carebears, this should immediately alert you to the kind of saccharine, ultra kid-friendly situations and plot lines.  And I played all 20 sweet hours (give or take a few hours) of Gale of Darkness to come to that conclusion.

 

As mentioned, you play a talented Pokémon trainer who’s tasked with snagging the Shadow Pokémon and putting them through an excruciating “purification” process, which – besides the ubiquitous Pokémon battles – is the nub of Gale of Darkness.  The story itself is so straightforward – the hand-holding practically eliminates any chance of getting lost – that you’ll start to yearn for the free-roaming sensibility of the GBA versions.  Yes, the GBA games have goals and there are missions to complete but you could always wander off into the undergrowth looking for wild Pokémon.  There are only three – a whole three! – areas that can be explored to any extent.  Gale of Darkness seems to have pushed the free roam options to the side in order to make room for some extremely long Pokémon battles that sometimes verge on boredom producing.

 

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What I really like about Pokémon games is that you have to be on the ball in order to achieve victory since one or two mistakes almost guaranteed a loss.  In some of Gale of Darkness’s later battles against high level Pokémon I never felt the same kind of pressure – I could make a few mistakes and still feel confident of a win.

 

This confidence didn’t extend to the head-to-head and team battles though because playing against human opponents always nets unpredictable results.  

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For some reason multiplayer can only be played with a series of connected GBA’s, each with a Pokémon GBA cartridge installed.  So if you have a couple of GameCube controllers multiplayer is not an option.  That said, the multiplayer games do have some fun to offer, especially if you can lay the smack down on some punk-ass 9-year old.

 

pokemon xd gale of darkness review          pokemon xd gale of darkness review

 

On the audio-visual front, Gale of Darkness is about as cute and cuddly as the freaky-tailed Pikachu.  The attacks and power-ups during combat are suitably impressive without becoming tiresome and the overland maps are bright and filled with color.  The audio is just fine.

 

On the whole, Pokémon fans will drop the dough on Gale of Darkness simply because it’s a Pokémon game.  And while the conventions of the franchise are present and accounted for, it feels a little too easy to be ranked as a “must have” for fans.  Try a rental first.

 

- Omni

(November 22, 2005)

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