Top positive review
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The review for hardcore pokemon gamers!
on 28 April 2006
Pokemon XD is an even better sequel to an already great game...
...Although I do use the term "sequel" loosely, it borrows character models and most of its locations from its predecessor, which the games developers have taken a bit of a kicking for by the press.
But does the familiarity bring contempt? In my opinion, the answer is no.
The fact that you're familiar with the environments means you know where the essentials -such as pokemon healing machines and PC's- are located.
By way of "catchable content" I'd say this game was weaker as a package than collosseum, it has 83 shadow pokemon to catch and also some wild ones, but ALOT of the catchables are B-class and relatively easy to aquire in the portable versions of the series.
The main attractions here then, are Lugia, Articuno, Zapdos & Moltres. And for me personally, Dragonite (its earlier forms take decades to evolve), but some people will wonder why the hell they'd be interested in Articuno/Zapdos/Moltres as they're readily available in FireRed and LeafGreen. I would also like to add that the rarest safari zone pokemon are all here for catching and relatively easy to get. Chansey, Kangaskhan, Scyther, Pinsir and Tauros are all here, which is a great help for me as I've never managed to get a Chansey or Tauros on any other pokemon game.
The games first hour is incredibly tedious, a boring introduction to a run-of-the-mill story, and some one-sided battles that you're advantaged in. Something many players will appreciate is that the starting pokemon is Eevee, and you get a chance to evolve it into any of its 5 evo forms very early in the game.
You get Eevee at level 15, and at the first "dungeon" location - Cipher lab (yup, taken from collosseum...) you can capture 6 useful pokemon Houndour, Gulpin, Baltoy, Mareep, Spheal and Seedot, all at level 17. This and the fact that Eevee can turn into one of any 5 types, means you have more control over your future throughout the game. I know I wasn't willing to train a level 3 Rattata at the start of Pokemon Blue...
You will feel like there's alot more choice in this game, 5 hours in you may have a Vaporeon and a Houndoom, whereas the guy across the street is Plugging away with Espeon and Nuzleaf (the vast majority of XD's battles are 2vs2). Beats the "standard practice" of using a Geodude against Lt. Surge and an Articuno against Lance the Dragon tamer, don't you think?
The best new addition is the "purification chamber" you basically leave your shadow pokemon somewhere in a circle of the "pure" breed, and it's heart opens as you take steps through the adventure and go about your business. The pokemon will purify faster if the circle of pokemon surrounding it "beats the other", I.e. Grass>Water>Fire>Ice>back to grass, which is a nice little addition.
The game is a little on the easy side, you wont find any of the early battles a struggle providing you train, and training is easy as simply exiting a location and returning allows you to re-match with many of the games opponents. As an adventure this subtracts from the enjoyment, but if you're a hardcore pokemon fan like me, the game will be your training/evolving/collecting items "centre", and you'll love every consecutive hour on a night you should spend revising.
Wild pokemon are also available, but in a different way to the gameboy games. You leave "pokesnacks" on stands in certain areas then continue with the adventure. After a while you'll be notified that a pokemon has found the snack, and it's up to you to get to the pokemon before it finishes its meal. This isn't as harsh as it sounds, exiting an area doesn't take long at all, and once you have, it's a simple case of selecting the place you left the bait on the world map, and effectively teleporting there (you watch a 5 second cut-scene of your character braving a desert on a bike). One you're where you left the bait, you have a regular 1 on 1 battle as you would if you found a pokemon in the grass somewhere in Johto.
All in all, it's definitely one for pokemon fans and gets 2 fat thumbs up from me, it's not perfect, and it's no independent game, but it's exactly what it's supposed to be, which is a substantial suppliment to work alongside your GBA games and intensify the experience as a whole.