Pokemon makes its 'RPG' console debut, but repetitive gameplay and little extra offerings makes Stadium a hit or miss.
One of the new things that Stadium introduces to the Nintendo 64 is the Transfer Pak. This connected to the back of the controller and a Game Pak could be inserted, and could interact with some games. For its use in Pokémon Stadium, it is used to transfer your data (from your party, to PC boxes) and brings them over temporarily for use within the game. You can then use them for battle in any place in which they possibly qualify for. If you don't have a Gameboy game to use, then you can use any of the 149 Pokémon that are given to you, but their sets are entirely premade for you. With this in mind, it's strongly recommended that you use your own game.
Stadium offers three types of battles, mini-games, a lab, and a 'Gameboy Tower'. All of these are basically what makes Stadium what it is, but chances are you will be spending much of your time with the three battle types.
The first of these is what gives the game its name: the Stadium. Here you can pick from multiple different cups to play depending on the Pokémon. Some have multiple different 'balls' which have a higher difficulty which is unlocked when you complete the lower one. All of these battles are three-on-three and are all eight battles, which you need to win all in order to clear. You are given continues if you manage to gain a victory without having a single Pokémon faint in a single battle.
The second is the Free Battle, where you are allowed to use any Pokémon regardless (except for Mew and Mewtwo, unless you supply them from your own Blue or Red Game Pak.) Everything is anything goes, so it's a good plays to either battle a friend or a computer for some sort of practice.
The third is probably the most memorable to me: the Gym Leader Castle. Here you must go through trainers and Gym Leaders in order to reach the Elite Four at the end of it all, a lot like the Gameboy games. You challenge gym-by-gym as well and your reward for winning is the hall of fame.
Mini-games that are offered are interesting, but nothing worth playing a lot unless you have three other friends around to play with you. The objectives differ which prevents them from getting boring quickly, and the competition play can be kind of fun as well.
The lab is only accessible if you have the Transfer Pak connected with a Blue or Red game inserted. This allows you to get a more thorough analysis of the game that the Gameboy ones were far too technically inferior to be able to offer. It's nothing too special nowadays, but it became fairly helpful back then in order to get the most out of the games.
The Gameboy Tower is basically somewhat of an emulator to play the Gameboy games on your TV. When you progress through the cups, you upgrade the tower and are given the options to make the game play a little faster. Helpful when you need to surf and skip through random battles quickly.
The design isn't too far off of what you would expect from a Pokémon game. The stadiums are, while variant in the Stadium mode, seem kind of recycled when it comes down the Gym Leader Castle. It seems as if the developers just made some sort of base and re-tooled it to fit with the type. While this is fair enough, I would have liked to have seen a little more creativity here.
Pokémon Stadium does not play too much different from its Gameboy counterparts. The battling system is basically the same, with no tweaks visible. Due to the multiple trainer battles you must go through in a row (unless you temporarily suspend,) it can become boring pretty quickly unless you are changing your team on a repetitive basis.
While Stadium brings the gameplay from the three version games for the first generation to the home consoles, it barely even adds anything new except for some of the different styles of play. Somewhat disappointing for those who would have expected some sort of an overhaul.
Stadium 2 is artistically what you would expect from a Pokémon game. The style and design looks much like you would see in some of the artwork at the time. Not too much to complain about here, but neither to praise as it doesn't bring too much new to the table, besides the Gym Leader Castle looking a little more dark than you may expect.
Stadium 2 is nice on a technical stand, however. The Pokémon look very good in 3D and their animations are all fitting. The attack animations are what you would expect and are not too far off from their Gameboy counterparts to be deemed inaccurate by any means. Everything looks well rounded, and it shows for the somewhat late era Nintendo 64 game that it is.
The music is basically arrangements from the Gameboy games, which is a smart move since the soundtrack is already likable and could be fine-tuned to fit the cups it needed to. A tiny pet peeve I have though is that some of the tracks are re-arranged multiple times. I would had liked to had seen a few more original tracks from Game Freak made for the game, however HAL was in charge of the development here while Game Freak decided to work on Gold and Silver.
The Pokémon cries are all digitalized and not sometimes annoying like they could be in the Gameboy games. They all have some sort of clarity and directly match their Gameboy counterparts, even those who share the same cries but some short of pitch shift (i.e. Charizard and Rhyhorn, Machop and Omanyte.)
The game features an announcer who is present throughout almost all battling portion of the games, with the exception being the final battle. It's overall a hit-or-miss to everybody though. While some people may find humor in him, others may just get annoyed and turn him off in the options menu.
Unless you have access to Blue, Red or Yellow, Stadium isn't much worth coming back to multiple times. You may have the attention to get through all of the cups, but there is not much to do after that unless you decide to replay through the entire game. Depending on how you play, it will take little time or a lot of time to complete.
While it has its repetitive nature and lack of anything new to the table, Pokémon Stadium is worth playing for those looking to duke it out in 3D. However, nowadays it is heavily brought down by its sequel which does just about everything better, so unless you're a collector or want to see how the series has progress, Stadium isn't much worth picking up nowadays.
Overall: 6.8/10 (7 rounded)