Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness E3 2005 Hands-On Impressions
We explore the Pokemon dark side on the E3 show floor.
Nintendo's E3 booth is a constant source of both energy and some of the longest lines in the show. One of the games that people are congregating around is Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, a GameCube Pokemon title with a twist. "XD" stands for "Xtra Dimension," and Gale of Darkness takes place in a different universe from the existing games, in a place where creatures known as shadow Pokemon roam.
When we started out the demo, we were in a large, futuristic-looking environment where a giant pyramid-shaped facility dominated the landscape with smooth onyx and metal surfaces. Two professors in lab coats stood outside and quickly gave our spiky-haired Pokemon trainer a mission to investigate the place. Apparently the factory was being used to house criminals who were fighting with shadow Pokemon, creatures that had had their hearts locked shut through artificial means. Upon attempting to enter the facility, we quickly encounter our first bruiser, who was none too pleased at our presence and quickly challenged us to a battle.
Battles were arranged as they are in some of the more recent Pokemon titles, where both combatants field two Pokemon each. Our enemy threw out a Pikachu and Zubat, while we countered with a Parasect and Kirlia. Before things started, our character automatically used a device called an "aura reader" on his headset to scan the enemy monsters, revealing that the Pikachu was actually a shadow Pokemon. This was revealed through a shadowy aura that appeared upon viewing. During battle and otherwise, the rotund yellow mouse looked as normal as a Pokemon can. When we joined battle, the Pikachu attacked using shadow powers instead of his traditional electric-based attacks. By using a snag ball (the Pokeballs we all know and love), we were soon able to collect the opponent's Pokemon, and he fled, sniveling. So we were allowed to enter the facility for one more battle before the demo ended.
The game itself actually looks quite nice. The characters are as simply designed as ever, with simple animations. But they are all made well, with clean edges and vibrant colors. The various Pokemon powers have some really nice effects, too, particularly the various shadow powers, composed of shifting blue and purple energy. Even our Parasect's spore attack looked nice, as it called forth a gentle flurry of glimmering gold spores to lure our foes into slumber.
The demo was very short, so we weren't able to get much in the way of details, but we'll be sure to keep watching for more information on this new Pokemon adventure. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is currently slated for release in October 2005 on the GameCube.
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