Pokemon Stadium does get boring after a while, but it's still a pretty fun game.
Despite its name, Pokémon Stadium is actually a sequel to the game Pocket Monsters Stadium which was released in 1998. Ultimately, that game never made it over here in America due to widespread criticism of the game. Reasons for this game's criticism focused on its difficulty and the fact that only 42 out of the original 151 Pokémon were available to play (mainly due to the lack of animations that were required to animate the other Pokémon). Also, this game was originally released on the Nintendo 64 add-on, the Disk Drive, but because of poor sales it was never released in America. So, a 'sequel' was released that included all 151 Pokémon, was in cartridge format and is the game that I'm looking at now.
Mainly the criticisms for this game have been for the fact that 'the game gets boring after a while'. When I first played this game, I never followed any of these reviews and liked the game. Now that I'm older, I looked at it again recently. Yes, it does get a little boring after a while but until Pokémon Colosseum (I know that's not how the actual game spells it, but I'll go with it anyway) came out on the GameCube, this is pretty much what Pokémon fans wanted: Being able to fight other Pokémon in 3-D. Sure, this isn't like the handheld games where you go around one of the many regions of Pokémon but if anything they got the battle system nearly completely right here.
Basically, there's no real story in this game. From what I see, you're just a Pokémon trainer at some place battling Pokémon. After starting the game up, you head to the unknown location where this game takes place. There you select where in the area you want to go. So what's there to do in this game you ask? Well if fighting is what you came for, then there are 4 different modes in the game where you can do just that.
The first, which this game is named for, is Stadium mode. On the main 'map' it no doubt the easiest place to find because not only does the 'building' that houses this mode say Stadium, it also is the building straight dab in the center of the map. Here you participate in 4 different tournaments where you fight against 8 different trainers. If you win a match, you earn a badge (basically the badges you earn after beating the Kanto Gym Leaders in the handheld games). After beating all 8 trainers in the tournament you earn the trophy for that tournament and then you can play that tournament again on a higher difficulty level.
If you just simply looked at any images of this mode, you would just think that it is the same tournament over and over again just at different arenas. While the overall gameplay is the same in all fighting modes in this game, each tournament in Stadium runs under different rules which determine which Pokémon you can use in it. The Poke Cup (the tournament on the upper area of the screen when you first start up this mode) has you using Pokémon ranging from levels 50 to 55. Basically this is every major Pokémon in the original game (minus the legendary Pokémon) available for use. The Pika Cup (right area of the screen) has you using level 15-20 Pokémon. Basically here you can use Pokémon in their first stage of evolution as well as some exceptions. Ultra Cup (lower area of the screen) allows you to use pretty much every Pokémon in the game maxed out at level 100. The final cup, the Petit Cup (left area of the screen), is the most restrictive of these 4 cups and you can only use certain Pokémon (levels 25-30) who fall into a certain height and weight category.
The other main mode in the game which uses this style of gameplay is the Gym Leader Castle mode, which is like the Stadium mode but focuses on the battles against the Kanto Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, and the Champion (your character's rival). But before you face a Gym Leader, you have to fight 3 other trainers before you can do so. If you defeat all 4 Cups and defeat every trainer in the Gym Leader Castle, you challenge Mewtwo and if you beat him, you unlock Round 2. This basically is a harder version of the Stadium, Gym Leader Castle, and the fight with Mewtwo. You beat this round and you complete the game. The other two fighting modes in this game are more like Free Play modes. On the screen before you enter the main hub area of the game, you can select to start up a random battle or you can select the Free Battle mode from the hub area. In that mode, you can select whatever kind of rules you want to follow and can battle with up to three of your friends. Of course, being that the battles seem more like two-player battles, the four trainers are paired into teams of two.
To start up one of these fighting modes, you select one of two options for choosing your Pokémon. You can either select six Pokémon to use in a tournament (although only 3 of these Pokémon can be used in a battle at a time) or have the shape-shifting Pokémon Ditto keep a presaved roster for you. Another way to select Pokémon for use in this game involves the handheld games which I'll explain in a bit. The fighting mechanics itself are similar to the handheld games. During a battle, you can either select what attack your Pokémon will use against the opponent, switch out the current Pokémon you're using for another one, or (in many ways the cowardly option) quit the fight. If you lose a battle or quit one during a tournament, you lose what basically is a credit which you can use to get right back up and fight that trainer again if you have one but if you lose all of these 'credits' you will have to start the tournament up all over again.
If you're not interested in battling, there are some other things that might hold you over. The biggest thing about this game is the addition of the Transfer Pak which allows you to use the first 3 handheld Pokémon games; Red, Blue, and Yellow in this game. You can use the Pokémon you collected in those games for use in the Stadium and all the other fighting modes in this game and as far as I know, this allows you to change the names and colors of the Pokémon as they appear in battle. Another section of the game, Professor Oak's Lab, allows you to basically do what you would normally do using a PC in the handheld games. You can swap out the Pokémon in your current party on the handheld games and so on and so on. One thing to note is that you have to be at a Pokémon Center when you save the handheld game in order to do this. Finally, you can actually play the handheld games on the N64 by going to the Game Boy Tower. As stated you can play the Red, Blue, and Yellow editions which can also be used in the sequel, Stadium 2 (I never owned that game but if I do, I will review that one). Finally, there is a minigame section in the game where you can either play one of the 9 available minigames one at a time or in a tournament.
One last option in this game is a mode where you can take pictures of Pokémon similar to Pokémon Snap, although honestly it is worse in this version than in Snap. The difference in this version is that you don't have to worry about moving down a track and getting little time to get the perfect shot. Here you are perfectly able to get that perfect shot. Unlike Snap though, you can only take pictures of one Pokémon at a time. There's not really much challenge in this mode unless you take a long time taking a single picture because you do have a time limit to take as many pictures as you want (if I'm right 90 pictures per 'photo shoot'). While I do like that this is a simpler way to take perfect pictures of Pokémon, this mode is honestly very dull.
How about the minigames? Well, here are my views and the general goal of each of these games:
Magikarp's Splash: This game is honestly the most simple out of all the minigames. All you have to do is just press the A button hard enough to make Magikarp hit the counter above it. Honestly this game isn't really that fun now that I think about it. Seriously, all you do is just jump to hit a counter.
Clefairy Says: Quite simply Simon says. You have to remember the pattern that appears on the blackboard behind the teacher Clefairy using the arrows on the control pad. You make a mistake and your Clefairy gets hit by a hammer and if your 'health' bar gets drained you are eliminated. This one was pretty solid and it's a good memory game.
Run, Rattata, Run: Like Magikarp's Splash, another really simple one. All you do is press the A button repeatedly to make Rattata run and press up on the control pad to jump over walls that appear on the track. This one was more fun to play than Magikarp's Splash because there's more to the actual minigame: It's an actual race.
Snore War: Using Drowzee, you have to press the A button when the pendulum on the screen is at the center red needle in order to cast a 'perfect' Hypnosis move. I have no idea how this one really works but it is pretty challenging.
Thundering Dynamo: In this minigame, you are either a Pikachu or a Voltorb. The aim of the game is to charge your Pokemon's power meter by pressing either the A button while the lamp on the machine behind the four competitors is blue or the B button when the lamp is green repeated in order to charge the meter. I never really got the hang of this game, but it's not hard and it's okay.
Sushi-Go-Round: As a Lickitung, the goal is to eat as much sushi as possible by pressing the A button. Each sushi that spins around on the 'merry-go-round' has a different amount of money that each player basically spends when they eat the sushi. Eating the same type of sushi in a combo scores you more points. This is probably the most thrilling of all of these minigames because it feels like a lot of those games I've played on Mario Party (and as many of you've seen from my past reviews, I really like the Mario Party games).
Ekans' Hoop Hurl: Using the Control Pad to aim and the Control Stick to throw, the goal is flick the Ekans' to make them land around a Diglett that appears in 9 holes scattered across the screen. This was the minigame that aggravated me the most. I'm not really good at these kinds of minigames but it's not impossible.
Rock Harden: Playing as either a Kakuna or Metapod, you have to survive the longest out of the 4 competitors by pressing the A button to harden in order to avoid getting hurt by boulders that are chucked at you. WARNING: Using this consumes your Pokemon's HP along with the boulders. This one was okay and I can't really say much about it.
Dig! Dig! Dig! Using Sandshrews, use the L and R buttons to dig a hole deep enough to hit water. This one was simple like Magikarp's Splash, but is a lot easier to control because you use two buttons instead of using one when hitting them completely.
The general fighting system in this game is okay. It is really simple compared to the handheld games because you can't use items to heal your Pokémon but it works well. Although, I have to admit that this game would've been a lot better if they had more variety in these battles. When it comes to playing the Game Boy games on this title, I do like how you can play these games without worrying about battery life on your handheld system and it's pretty cool because I never owned a Super Game Boy and an SNES so it's cool to play handheld games on your TV.
So this game does get kind of boring after a while but it's not a bad game. In short, it's okay and if you like these types of games and you're a fan of Pokémon, it's worth owning. Since this game, there has been one main sequel to this game, Stadium 2. I don't know if one would call any main Pokémon console game after that a sequel to Stadium 2. If they do decide to make a Stadium 3, I would actually be interested in buying it. In fact, they should honestly make a 3D Pokémon game for consoles that are similar to the handheld titles. I know the Colosseum and Gale of Darkness titles are probably the closest to the handheld games in terms of gameplay but I would like to see a console Pokémon title that has players playing through the same regions in the handheld games like Kanto and Johto. If they make a game similar to the 2 Stadium games, my only two requests are that they allow you to play every single Pokémon game that was released when that game 'came out' and the battles resemble the handheld battling system and allow you to use items like Potions and Antidotes. That includes the original Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS games.
Times the word Pokémon appeared in this review (including this phrase): 46