Product Type: other Nintendo 64 games
Newest Review: ... are all level/stage one. Or you can have your own battle of Pokemon (you can do either one player or two player) this is where you ... more
The ultimate Pokémon add-on
Pokemon Stadium 64 (N64)
Member Name: Johndonut
Pokemon Stadium 64 (N64)
Date: 04/09/00, updated on 04/09/00 (68 review reads)
Advantages: Bring your GB Pokémon to life in 3D
Disadvantages: No real storyline or 'quest' mode
It's the phenomenon that has kept people's fingers glued to the buttons of their brightly-coloured Game Boys for months, and nowadays it seems you cannot walk past a games store without hearing the whining voice of a small child just desperate to get their grubby little hands on the latest item of Pokémon merchandise. And now, after selling in excess of a million copies just weeks after its release in America, the Pokémon revolution has finally hit UK N64's in the form of Pokémon Stadium. It comes packaged with the clever Game Boy Transfer Pak, giving Pokémaniacs the chance to unleash all of their favourite trained monsters onto a heated 3D battlefield. It has been said that Pokémon has been Nintendo's only saviour, but will this latest product exploit the brand name and prove to be a simple cash-in, or will Pokémon Stadium follow the trend of the Game Boy versions and provide hours of compelling and addictive gameplay?
With a Transfer Pak plugged into your N64 controller, you can transfer data from your Game Boy across to its 64-bit big brother. Owners of Mario Golf may well know that in order to obtain 4 of the hidden characters, they must be unlocked in the Game Boy version and then transferred to the N64. Pokémon Stadium takes the same principle but raises it to the next level. With the Transfer Pak, you can now fully see the benefits of your many hours of Game Boy play, as the Pokémon you have captured and trained in the Red or Blue versions slug it out in 3D turn-based battle on Pokémon Stadium. What's more, you can also play your Game Boy adventure on the big screen of your TV with faster loading times, which, whilst being a little disorientating at first, is an original feature which we could see more of from Transfer Pak compatible games in the future. As well as simply uploading your Pokémon to the N64 and battling with computer and human opponents, you can also manage your Poké-dex using the excellent interface and store some
of your monsters on the cart before your Game Boy bursts with data. The fact that the Transfer Pak is included in the package really does emphasise the need to have the Game Boy versions in order to enjoy and get the most out of Pokémon Stadium.
Pokémon Stadium is absolutely jam packed with features and options to keep all you Pokémaniacs thrilled for months on end. The heart of the 1-player experience is the Stadium Mode, where you lead an army of your finest trained Pokémon into 4 different tournaments (Pika Cup, Petit Cup, Poké Cup and Prime Cup), making a total of 80 battles against computer monsters. Each competition offers a range of difficulty settings for differently-levelled Pokémon, so no matter how far you have progressed in the Game Boy game, you will be guaranteed a fighting chance. However, it is far more satisfying if you have advanced little critters to put into battle, as they will have a more powerful arsenal of moves and the fight against the equally-matched computer Pokémon makes for a more glorious contest. If you don't have a Game Boy cartridge and thus the opportunity to transfer your own Pokémon to the game, Pokémon Stadium allows you to "rent" monsters from an expansive selection for use in the various modes. However, there is no way of training them, resulting in a rather unfulfilling experience, and you will not be able to realistically compete in parts of the game due to highly-evolved computer opponents. In order to conquer all 4 tournaments and have the opportunity to face and capture the 151st ultimate Pokémon warrior - Mewtwo, you will need to have a substantial selection of high-level Pokémon at your disposal.
The actual fighting is a simple but strategic RPG turn-based system - a direct translation of the Game Boy battle engine. For the minority who are unfamiliar, the action is not the all-out slugfest you would find in Super Smash Brothers, and it doesn't present the huge selection of moves an
d combos of a Tekken-like fighting game. Instead, Pokémon Stadium battles are more akin to a simple game of chess. Before a round of attacks, the menu allows you to chose which move you want to perform or to bring a different Pokémon onto the stage. Suffice to say, those of you who have played the Game Boy versions will feel right at home, as you have to implement your Pokémon knowledge into battle proceedings to counteract your opponent's next calculated move.
Perhaps the feature which Pokémon Game Boy owners will like the best is the inclusion of the Gym Leader Castle mode, which is a real treat for experienced trainers. Here you must battle the Elite Four and other Gym Leaders for a chance to obtain one of 8 rare Pokémon. Upon completing each circuit, players are awarded with the monster delights of Pokémon such as Charmander, Kabuto and Squirtle, which can then be downloaded onto your Game Boy cartridges. One of the other key features in Pokémon Stadium is the opportunity for 2 to 4-player battles, with options to alter hit points and experience levels. Competing against other human opponents brings a whole new dimension to the play, especially if you are all of a similar skill level and enter your most prized Pokémon into battle. Unfortunately, there isn't a "winner takes all" mode for the gambling enthusiasts amongst us, which would have really got the sweat flowing. For the easily amused, there are also 9 very uncomplicated, but at times, hilarious mini-games for up to 4 players. These Mario Party-esque button-bashers will see you slurping up sushi with Lickitungs and casting hypnotic spells with wobbling Drowzees! Another treat is the Pokémon Lab where you can organise, compare and observe your Pokémon collection. You can also teach them new moves as in the Game Boy versions, but obviously with the benefits of an improved interface.
Possibly the first thing you'll notice about Pokémon Stadium is the incredible appeara
nce and animation of the Pokémon. All the monsters are beautifully soft skinned and detailed, shuffling about the arena as if they have a life of there own. The special effects are equally impressive and great fun to watch with some spectacular lighting and pyrotechnics. Unfortunately, the graphics are scored down slightly due to the drab and uninspiring backgrounds, but as a result, the framerate remains as solid as Snorlax and, in the heat of battle, your focus will be on the wonderfully rendered 3D Pokémon.
Unfortunately, Pokémon Stadium is somewhat of a disappointment in the sound department, mainly due to the lack of Pokémon voices. Of course Pikachu's annoying squeaks are present, but what about the other trademark sayings such as "Ecansssss" and "Oniiiiix". Secondly, while you will hear the authentic musical themes from the cartoon, they are of the poor quality you'd expect from a Midi synthesiser and are noticeably tinny. Nintendo has used Factor 5's voice compression technology from Rogue Squadron to allow an announcer to call the action. He is actually quite amusing and not bad by any means, but his wacky voice eventually gets annoying and somewhat repetitive. On the plus side, the in-game sound effects are good and contribute to the atmosphere of the battles.
This conclusion is as simple as they come: if you are a Pokémon fan and own one of the Game Boy versions along with an N64, you simply must add Pokémon Stadium to your Pokémon shrine as if the fate of Pikachu's cute face depends on it. If this is not the case however, you should avoid this game. Unfortunately, I suspect that there will be many N64 owners without access to a Game Boy cartridge to transfer their own trained Pokémon and statistics onto their system, and thus they will only be able to scratch the surface of Pokémon Stadium. I cannot stress this point enough - Pokémon Stadium is essentially an extension to the Game Boy Pokémon experie
nce. Nevertheless, as add-ons go, if you are one of the millions of people who own a Game Boy and Pokémon Red or Blue, this game will make an exceptional addition to your N64 library and is a must-buy. Others should just be happy to know that the Transfer Pak provides a stepping stone for future interaction between console and handheld; a bridge of the gap in technology that foreshadows the almost certain linkage between the Dolphin and Game Boy Advance.
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