The random number generator has determined that the next game I should talk about is Pokémon Colosseum. It’s a Pokémon game for the Gamecube, but it’s also a masterful work of art.
I want to say that Pokémon Colosseum is my favorite Pokémon game of all time, but I’m not sure if that would be completely accurate. Each Pokémon game has a different flavor, and depending on my mood, I might think that Colosseum is my favorite, or Black Version, or HeartGold, or Pokémon Yellow.
The flavor of Pokémon Colosseum is danger. There is no Pokémon League in the Orre Region, and so the story is entirely focused on fighting against the enemy teams. There are two games set in Orre, and I would say that I like Colosseum a bit more between the two. Colosseum features a refreshing change from Pokémon’s formula, which is that you don’t play as a beginning trainer. Not only do you begin the game wielding two Level 30 Pokémon, but your character is also an ex-criminal. The opening cutscene of the game features your betrayal of Team Snagem. We’re never explicitly told of the main character’s reasons for joining or leaving Team Snagem, but we see him steal their only portable Snag Machine, and plant explosives in their base, detonating them while riding away into the desert on his futuristic motorcycle.
Compared to the standard Pokémon Regions (Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and the like) the Orre region is a lawless territory much like the Wild West. There’s a good reason for this. The game is said to take place on the landmass surrounding Phoenix Arizona. There’s a town called Phenac City which was founded in the same manner as Phoenix was. The founding of both cities involved moving fresh water through canals so that people could live in the middle of the desert.
Since the regions of the main series are based on real world locations, I was prepared to accept Arizona as the real world location of Orre, but the in-game evidence was minimal, since there was no coastline on the map in Pokémon Colosseum. In its sequel, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, there is a coastline, but when I saw it, I thought that its placement was evidence against it taking place in Arizona. I recently realized that the map in XD does actually fit the Phoenix area if one rotates the real map so that the Gulf of California is placed on the bottom left corner. I can’t tell if this was the intention or not, but it works out pretty well.
If true, this means that Pokémon Colosseum was the first game to take place in the Pokémon World’s version of the United States (although seemingly some of it takes place in Mexico). Orre predates both Unova and Alola.
The main character (whose default name is Wes) rescues a red haired girl a few minutes into the story. Her default name is Rui, and she has the ability to see the auras of Shadow Pokémon. Shadow Pokémon are Pokémon which have undergone some kind of advanced brainwashing to prevent them from showing mercy in battle. She appears to be the only person who is able to see those auras. She decides to follow the main character and identify Shadow Pokémon for him in order to help him steal those Pokémon from the trainers that use them. After stealing them, they find a way to undo each Pokémon’s brainwashing through a technique called purification.
My head-canon explanation for Rui’s ability to see the auras of Shadow Pokémon is that she has Functional Tetrachromacy, which is a very rare medical condition that only people with two X chromosomes can have. Having this condition means that she has four working types of cone cells in her eyes instead of three. She can see degrees of Red, Blue and Green like people normally can, but the extra fourth type of cone cell lets her also see degrees of some unnamed (and unimaginable by me) color, which Shadow Pokémon auras happen to be. Furthermore, my head-canon continues with the theory that after the events of Pokémon Colosseum, she was essential to the development of the Aura Reader that Michael uses in XD: Gale of Darkness.
One cultural anomaly in the Orre Region is that everyone seems to prefer double battles. Most battles in these games are double battles, which in my opinion makes them much more interesting to play than other Pokémon games. It’s interesting to me that after double battles were added to the series, triple battles were added, and then triple battles were removed. As little as I know about Pokémon battling, it seems that double battles have the perfect amount of complexity. Triple battles had too much, and single battles don’t have enough.
This game is hard to categorize. It’s clear that Pokémon Colosseum and its sequel are not main series titles, but the mechanics are so similar to them that they might as well be. You can trade Pokémon with the main series Game Boy Advanced titles using a wire that connects a GBA to one of the Gamecube controller slots. You and your friends could connect multiple GBA systems to the Gamecube and battle each other in full 3D (which was a big deal at the time) and my group of friends did it on many occasions. (The video below contains some examples of battles from that era)
The music of the game is amazing. It has a very different feel to the music available in the mainline series, so I can’t really say that one style is better than the other. I will say though that songs like Pyrite Town and Battle Mountain feel more adventurous and full of danger than the music typically found in the mainline series. Below is my favorite remix video of all time for any video game music (It also deserves way more views than it has). It features most if not all of the songs in Pokémon Colosseum.
There was a pre-order bonus for this game called the Jirachi Bonus Disc. It let you send a free Mythical Pokémon Jirachi to any file of Pokémon Ruby or Sapphire that didn’t already receive one. It’s possible to receive a Shiny Jirachi from the disc but it would be difficult to pull off on purpose, given the amount of time it takes to download Jirachi once.
Since there are no wild Pokémon in Pokémon Colosseum, you can only catch the finite amount of Shadow Pokémon in the game. Because of this, you can typically only have up to 52 Pokémon. The game only gives you 3 boxes (space for 90 Pokémon) along with your party of up to 6 Pokémon. That said, the save file for Pokémon Colosseum takes up a whopping 48 blocks of the 59 available blocks on a standard memory card. Since playing the game normally will result in 44 empty spaces in your PC system (almost half of it) this is a waste of blocks! I undertook a solution to this problem using 44 Nincadas to fill the PC system in one of my Pokémon Colosseum files. Below is a video about this undertaking.
I want to play the Japanese version of Pokémon Colosseum in order to catch 3 Shadow Pokémon that are exclusive to the e-reader function that was absent from the international versions of the game. I’m going to need to learn how to make fake e-reader cards.
Shadow Pokémon were a piece of lore that seemed to have been forgotten for a long time. That was until the release of Pokkén Tournement for Wii U where a mysterious Mewtwo appeared. Similar in color scheme to Shadow Lugia from Gale of Darkness, they called this antagonistic Mewtwo Shadow Mewtwo.
Shadow Pokémon were then added into Pokémon GO in 2019. This was a clearer reference to the Gamecube Pokémon games than Shadow Mewtwo had been. That said, our war against Team GO Rocket (the users of those Shadow Pokémon) isn’t doing so well. If I’ve learned anything from the Pokémon games, it’s that some kid should be able to stop an evil organization in a matter of days to weeks. It’s been a year, and there’s no sign of that happening yet. It looks like Team Rocket can’t be stopped this time, which concerns me greatly.
Thanks for reading! =)