Let’s talk about the Dark Ages of Pokémon.
Pokémon has always been a place of lunacy. It is a franchise founded on the concept of “Gotta catch ‘em all”, and something about that call to obsessive compulsive disorder has always attracted a very eclectic fan club. While the universe of Pokémon has ostensibly been created for children, you still see plenty of…
Throughout any Pokémon epoch. And while you could use that as an example of Pokémon players being just plain weird (which, okay, they mostly are), it also speaks to something very particular: Pokémon players are obsessive. This is a franchise that thrives on breeding mechanics, IVs, EVs, shinies, and all sorts of other compulsions to obtain the very best, like no one ever has. If the Pokémon Masters were to obfuscate the ability for players to be their normal level of obsessive, well…
We’d have Pokémon Colosseum.
Pokémon Colosseum was released at an odd time in the Pokémon franchise’s lifespan. The original Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Blue (and Green and Yellow), were 100% compatible with their sequels, Pokémon Silver and Gold (and Crystal). While this did not lead to some kind of cross-generational 2 player experience, you could transfer your ‘mons forward, and use a Pokémon Red Mewtwo or your favorite Hypno in your “new” Pokémon Silver at will. However, the next generation, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, wisely dropped that backwards compatibility. This was done to preserve the validity of the meta scene, as the stat balance of Pokémon Red and Blue was not feasible going forward. Being able to transfer that 999 Special Mewtwo would just mean the winners of any competition in the future would only ever be whoever had the oldest, most busted Pokémon. But, while this was good for friendly competition, it was terrible for those of us that lived and breathed catchin’ ’em all. There were a great many Pokémon that were completely absent from Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, and any previous “legendaries” were 100% out of the picture. You were equally screwed if your favorite was Hypno or Mewtwo.
Enter Pokémon Colosseum. Pokémon Colosseum was touted not only as “better” than the Pokémon Stadium games by being the first console RPG Pokémon experience (inevitably better than anything that could ever be on a mere portable), but advertising materials also made it clear that this was going to be the only way to (re)capture a number of Pokémon Silver/Gold Pokémon. You’ve got the big three starters, mareep, sudowoodo, the three legendary cats, tyranitar, and Lugia (right there on the cover!). Lugia’s partner legendary, Ho-Oh, was a “secret” reward for conquering the battle tower, and that “secret” was out before the game even dropped. Whether it was ever outright stated by the Pokémon company, the implication was real: if you ever want to see your favorite ‘mons again, you’ll do what we say.
And they certainly found an annoying thing to say…
Pokémon Coliseum is not a normal “Pokémon game” beyond even the obvious hardware shift. There is no overworld, and destinations must be selected from a static map. The towns and “dungeons” look like they would be more comfortable in Xenogears than neighboring Pallet Town, and the NPCs similarly seem a lot crankier and bleaker than the usual fat guy wandering around talking about technology being wonderful. The main character is a surly teen with a sidekick that has a (moderately) dark past. Your Pokédex has been replaced with a much more adult PDA (it was the early 2000s, roll with it). There is no “tall grass”, and all capturable Pokémon encounters are predetermined and exclusively obtained by stealing from other trainers. And if you have managed to snag a new Pokémon, it was a “shadow Pokémon” that had to be purified. And that was an ursaring and a half…
Team Snagem, the villains of the piece, have been abusing Pokémon, and some of their ‘mons have become Shadow Pokémon. Only Mirei, your erstwhile sidekick that vaguely looks like Misty, has the ability to perceive shadow auras, so it is up to you/the protagonist to snag these Shadow Pokémon and purify them back to happiness. In theory, this works very much like any other Pokémon friendship mechanic (introduced to the franchise as of the first sequel), and is a simple way to convey how you actually care about your monsters, and are not just using them in digital cockfights like the bad guys (even if you are). In practice, however, all but the weakest Pokémon have extremely lengthy shadow gauges to purify, and they are effectively useless until they reach a certain level of purification. In the meanwhile, their moves are limited, the odds of them entering a detrimental “hyper mode” are high, and they cannot even level up to keep pace with their purified buddies. And while the methods to purification are fairly “I was going to do that anyway” (battle, walk with ‘em in your party, provide sensual massages), the circumstances of actually keeping a Shadow Pokémon handy are often limited. Would you want to enter a life or death battle while relying on a Pokémon that is maybe going to obey your commands? You might have to take that chance, though, as some of the most desirable Pokémon (like Tyranitar and Lugia) have atrocious purification requirements.
In fact, the game was more or less designed around you doing everything on the way to “earning” the purified Pokémon. Once you get down to the brass tacks of Pokémon Colosseum, you will find that there isn’t much game there. Beat a bunch of trainers, save the world, and… you’re about done. If you didn’t have to be maximizing your purification at all times, there would be literally no reason to play this game past completion of the story. And, to be clear, even going back to the first Pokémon game, that has never been the standard for this franchise. Many Pokémon titles are just getting going once you roll credits! In Pokémon Coliseum, however, you capture a handful of Shadow Pokémon during the ending sequence, so you better find some way to purify that metagross! There is “replay value” only because you need to find something to do while you’re waiting for your ‘mon to be viable.
And why would you bother? Because only purified Pokémon may migrate over to your “real” Gameboy Advance games. You cannot transfer a shadow Tyranitar to your Pokémon Ruby game, but you may after you have been a good little player and made that godzilla a real boy (well, girl. You wanted a girl. You couldn’t breed ’em without a girl or a ditto, and we wouldn’t see ditto again until the Fire Red/Leaf Green releases). Practically the entire second generation of Pokémon was being held captive and “shadowed” in Pokémon Coliseum, so, if you wanted that all-important complete Pokédex, you had to not only purchase a Nintendo Gamecube, a Nintendo Gamecube game, and a GBA-GC link cable, you also had to go through all the effort of purifying every last yanma and togetic. You could ignore this entire process like a failure, or you could crossplay and crosstrain your Pokémon to 100% completion like a winner.
So if you wanted to recapture your favorite generation 2 Pokémon in the third generation, you had to jump through a lot of tedious hoops.
Or exploit this one walking glitch.
This will purify most any Pokémon without any effort. You just have to rubber band down your controller and walk away for a couple hours. It.. is a viable alternative.
Luckily, there is a happy ending for the Pokémon franchise. Since that third generation, every Pokémon species has been able to be “carried forward”, so, even if you might have to wait a bit, there has not been that same drive for “we might never see a bayleef again”. Even now, you could transfer your Pokémon Coliseum purified Forretress forward (through a few hurdles) to join the Pokémon of Violet/Scarlet with Pokémon Home. Hell, you can even then let that Forretress hob nob with Pokémon from the “non canon” mobile title Pokémon Go (because where else would you get all those furfrou forms?). The message seems to be clear: there will never be a spinoff game as “urgent” as Pokémon Coliseum once was, and, while Pokémon Company would not advocate skipping a game or entire generation, there will be viable routes to a “missed” Suicine in the future.
But we will always be able to look back on these Shadow Pokémon as something that was part and parcel with where the Pokémon franchise was at the time. In a franchise that thrived on compulsions, Pokémon Coliseum exploited its userbase, and wasted untold hours of peoples’ time for the privilege of catchin’ ‘em all.
If you had a Feraligatr in your ‘dex in 2003, you are one of the dedicated weirdos of Pokémon.
(and it goes without saying that I’m on that list…)
SBC #12 Jigglypuff & Pokémon Colosseum
Jigglypuff in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- She any Good? According to the Ultimate character select screen, Jigglypuff is the last of the original N64 batch. Did anyone ever unlock her after Ness? Regardless, current gen ‘Puff is so damn light, and dies immediately. Rollout has decent odds on being suicidal, rest is an extreme gambit, and the punch-pound is more adorable than effective. She’s surprisingly fast and verbal, though.
- That final smash work? Gigapuff really seems like something that should be super effective, as covering the entire screen with an enormous, pink blob is apocalyptic. But it is weirdly not a guaranteed KO…
- The background work? Since we used Pichu for the first one, we’ll look at Pokémon Stadium 2. This one is definitely more interesting, as the conveyer belt alone is worth the price of admission. Ice is a fun hazard, too. Guess we will have to wait for the sword arena to see steel or dragon themes…
- Classic Mode: All original, All 64. It doesn’t follow the original Nintendo 64 classic mode exactly, but it does have Samus and Yoshi on Yoshi’s Stage like in the n64 intro. One puff against four “hidden” characters on Battlefield is adorable, and sticking Giant Donkey Kong at the end is a great reminder of when Rest was the most powerful move in the game.
- First Appearance: Jigglypuff used to be able to last longer. I wonder if she is involved just because somebody wanted to see what else could be done with the Kirby model. I’ll say it: I really preferred Jigglypuff before she had rollout.
- Smash Trivia: Luigi and Jigglypuff were the only characters that were “duplicate” representatives of their home franchises in the original Super Smash Bros, and Jigglypuff was the only one that was wholly original. Can you imagine the weight of that? In 1999, the only Nintendo franchise on the same level as Mario was Pokémon. And it is an edge case to begin with!
- Amiibo Corner: She looks innocent… and is basically a stylized ball. Excellent little Jigglypuff, but could use a hat. Come to think of it, have her ears ever made sense from a biological perspective?
- Does the character work to represent this game? Pokémon Coliseum is not distinctly explored as a location in Smash Bros, but the “legendary dogs” and Lugia are marquee characters for the game, and they have been Pokéball mainstays through a couple of Smash events. So partial credit. Jigglypuff’s own participation in Colosseum is minimal, though.
Jigglypuff in Pokémon Colosseum
- System: Nintendo Gamecube, and we are unlikely to see this on some kind of rerelease streaming service. Those GBA-GC link days are not well remembered.
- Number of players: The name Pokémon Colosseum is meant to be evocative of the good ol’ days of Pokémon Stadium and having an entire game where you can beat your little brother at Pokémon in what passes for high definition graphics. So we’ve got two players, but only in the mode that requires two link cables to be appreciably better than its GBA counterpart. Or you could stick to the “rentals” like a loser.
- Favorite Pokémon (available in this game): Frequent references to Tyranitar didn’t give it away? In an effort to be slightly focused on today’s game in the face of the whole ‘dex, I will say Sudowoodo. Watching that dude dance with Miror B. is one of the few memorable moments in story mode.
- So, did you beat it? As if you cannot tell from the article, I did complete every last ridiculous challenge in Pokémon Coliseum, including the Battle Tower (twice!). I am moderately certain that there was this, its sequel (XD: Gale of Darkness, which managed to drop the “Coliseum” title to further itself from the Stadium days), and then Pokémon Ranger… and then I mostly gave up wholly completing Pokémon spinoff games. Gotta catch ‘em all… but only when it is a mainline title.
- Learning to Battle: Fighting through the Battle Tower taught me one thing: Earthquake is the most powerful move in the franchise. No, this is not correct, but damn near every ‘mon used Earthquake in that mode, and, unless you were loaded with flyers, it was always at least moderately effective. TM26, you are my best friend.
- Bonus Time: You could obtain a mythical Celebi for purchasing Pokémon Coliseum in Japan. This makes sense, as Celebi is part of the mythology of the story mode, and their power over time is integral to purifying your shadow bros. In America, we did not receive Celebi, but Jirachi, because… uh… raisins?
- Goggle Bob Fact: My original Battle Tower team is still saved with my PC data. This means I can take out Nana the Glalie any time I want to perform a battle. And yes, to make a smash reference ouroboros, she was once a Snorunt caught in 2002 that was named for one of the Ice Climbers.
- Did you know? Vibrava is technically the only dragon type you can catch in Pokémon Colosseum. Additionally, you can obtain a swablu, and that will evolve into a dragon-type alteria. And that’s it! You want dragon types? Play a different game!
- Would I play again: You could not pay me enough to go through the purification process for an Entei ever again.
What’s next? Halloween is upon us, so Simon is going to once again step into the shadows of the Hell house. Please look forward to it!