Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

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So, for a guy that says “please excuse him while he tends to his Pokemon” I’m seeing a severe lack of Pokemon games, so I figured I’d talk about one today. It is a fairly old game, it came out a little over ten years ago. This was the game that made me want to pick up more Pokemon games because I had so much fun with it. However, the Pokemon games for the handhelds (like Pokemon X & Y, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) are drastically different, gameplay wise from this game. This game follows your protagonist (whatever you wish to name him) and your partner Pokemon Eevee as you follow their journey to stop the evil organization called Cipher from taking innocent Pokemon and altering them to become Shadow Pokemon, where they are basically mind controlled to do what this group wants them to do, and find out the mystery behind their secret weapon, code named XD-001 (though you could probably just guess what it is based on the box art).

In most pokemon games, you have to walk in the tall grass to catch and create a team of your own pokemon. Not in this game. In this game, your main way of getting Pokemon is catching, or as the game calls it “snagging” other trainers Pokemon, but only if they are Shadow Pokemon, because only you can purify them. While you can catch wild Pokemon there’s only nine Pokemon that you can catch in the wild and that’s only if you go to a certain area, and lay down Pokemon food and wait for a bit, then come back and find them. There’s three different spots and certain Pokemon appear in certain areas. Most Pokemon games are very open, meaning, while yes you have certain areas you have to go, you’re able to explore this huge world once you get all the items necessary. This game is much more linear, you don’t get to explore much, you go to these towns, and the only are you’re able to explore is within these towns, which isn’t much either, so if that’s one of the things you look forward to in a Pokemon game, you may not like this game very much.

What I like about this game is how different it is to other Pokemon games, I think it’s incredibly unique. There’s a place called the battle tower that you can do that has 100 battles (10 per floor) and for every floor, the level of the opponents Pokemon increases. It’s fun to do, you get badges for every floor, and if you beat all the floors, and every person on them, you get to choose one of three special Pokemon. I also very much enjoyed the Shadow Pokemon gimmick, I thought it was very interesting, but at the same time it’s one of my least favorite things about the game, which I will get to right now.

The biggest issue with this game is the Shadow Pokemon themselves. While they are stronger than other pokemon of the same level, when it comes to facing a higher level Pokemon, you’re typically screwed, because Shadow Pokemon do not level up while they’re Shadow-fied. Their experience bar is replaced with their heart meter which you have to lower until it’s empty, and once that bar is empty you can “purify” them. To purify them you need a certain amount of Non-Shadow Pokemon to “Open their heart” which can be very annoying when you sometimes don’t have enough Non-Shadow Pokemon. The worst part is the big bad Shadow Pokemon at the end of the game, you have to fill every single purifying set with Pokemon whose types can trump each other, and you need a total of 36 Pokemon to purify XD-001. It’s a massive pain to do, and it can be incredibly tedious to do.

So, for as much as I enjoy this game, I can look at it now without nostalgia clouding my eyes, and I can see the glaring flaws in it. So I give this game a PERSONAL enjoyment rating of 8/10 but an overall rating of 6/10.

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Jack Holland

Jack Holland is an avid video game player and spends most of his time training his Pokemon, exploring the vast kingdom of Hyrule, or slaying some zombies. Now, if you'll please excuse him, his Pokemon are in dire need of training.

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