Buzz of another Pokemon remake is in the air. Most fans are hoping for fresh takes on 2006’s Diamond and Pearl, while others (including our very own Cian Maher) have their hearts set on a Let’s Go sequel. But while both options would be safe bets, I wish Nintendo would take a chance and remake the franchise’s first true console game: Pokemon Colosseum.
Yes, there were Pokemon games on home consoles prior to Colosseum, but stuff like Pokemon Puzzle League and Hey You, Pikachu! hardly compare to the experience found in the base games. The Stadium titles come close, but don’t offer much in the way of a narrative experience. Colosseum was the first time a full-featured Pokemon RPG came to home consoles, which was a pretty revolutionary concept for the time.
But the gritty spin-off wasn’t a 1:1 recreation of the experience found on its Game Boy incarnations. Colosseum has a much darker lilt to it than the mainline entry, and doesn’t follow the traditional trainer’s journey. Instead of catching wild Pokemon and using them to take on gyms, players instead steal ‘mons from other trainers and use them to take on imposing coliseums. Protagonist Wes isn’t some two-bit thief, though – he’s a hunter of Shadow Pokemon, which can only be spotted with the help of his traveling companion, Rui. Together, they hunt down the tainted creatures and take them under their wing to fight back against the sinister Team Cipher.
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For a series that’s primarily geared towards kids, Colosseum feels like a decidedly older affair. On top of the narrative content, the look and feel of the game hews closely to its JRPG big brothers of the era, especially the Final Fantasy games released in the early aughts. It was one of the earlier Pokemon games to take a decidedly less kiddie approach, as Nintendo cashed in on the popular grimdark edge of early ‘00s tween entertainment. Of course, it’s all a bunch of bluster – the game is rated E, after all – but it definitely tried to distance itself as a “cooler” take on the formula.
It worked, too. Colosseum was a modest critical hit and a commercial smash, with much praise heaped on the departure from the main titles’ structures. The game was an ambitious step for the series and had Nintendo continued to support the spin-offs, we might have seen a long-running alternative to the handheld games. Unfortunately, it only received one lackluster (and mostly recycled) successor in 2005’s XD: Gale of Darkness before the idea was shelved permanently. Worse yet, with the advent of the Nintendo Switch, mainline Pokemon games on consoles isn’t a new idea anymore.
Still, that shouldn’t stop the Big N from revisiting Colosseum. Seeing the world of Pokemon through a different perspective is always a treat – just look at how well Detective Pikachu did. Plus, there’s a fun novelty to the idea of battling trainers and catching their Pokemon, as it’s the closest the series has ever come to letting players feel like bad guys. Even with the mainline games on consoles now, Colosseum offers a refreshing alternative to the usual formula, and would definitely stand on its own next to a new generation – or another remake.
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Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.
She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.
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