Review: Pokémon Stadium (N64)

Nintendo 64

CoverDevelopers: Ninendo EAD
Publishers: Nintendo
Genre: Strategy Battle & Party Games
Rating: E
Price: Try your luck
Back in the days when there were only 151 Pokémon, Pikablu, and the Mew hiding under the truck near the SS Anne there were two ways of fighting your friends and their team of magical pocket monsters: you could tote around a transfer cord, sit about a foot away from the other person, and have half your class crowd around the tiny 6″ gameboy screens or you could own Pokémon freakin Stadium. This game became the centerpiece of many parties. Everyone would crowd around the TV and spend hours watching their Pokémon, for the first time, coming to life in 3D. Considering that we had played blue, red, and yellow in black and white for several years before the release of this game, it was a huge deal. The battles suddenly came to life in a way that only existed within our imaginations. Pokémon has come a very long way, but the 3D models we now know and love found their roots here. Has it aged well?

Content Guide

Mewtwo attackSpiritual Content
While this would be cherry-picking at its worst, the ghost-type and the ghost-type attacks do carry with them some darker spiritual things within the world of Pokémon. Some of the Pokedex entries, such as those concerning the aforementioned ghost-type Pokémon, do tend to be a little dark. Other than that, the actual content of the game is rather innocent.
Violence
The bottom line of the Pokémon games is that you are fighting magical monsters, and that’s just what they do. Pokémon hit one another with lightning, fire, ice, and everything else imaginable but other than flinching or staggering down to the ground, they’re relatively unaffected. A punch will send a Pokémon back a few paces but unless their HP is depleted, they’ll hop right back into place ready to go on. There’s no blood, no gore, no bruising, or anything else to really be concerned about.
Language/Crude Humor
There is none to be mentioned.
Sexual Themes
There is none to be mentioned.
Drug/Alcohol Use 
There is none to be mentioned.
Positive Themes
While the actual content of the games is really limited to Pokémon fights and mini games, there’s really nothing negative or positive to focus on. The positivity of the game really comes from the gathering of friends around a game to fight their Pokémon and play a handful of mini-games. The games themselves are fairly harmless. They’re short, sweet, and non-offensive as can be. While I’m grabbing at apples, one can say that Pokémon Stadium teaches fair competition.

Review

I’ll get right to the point here: while there have been several Pokémon Stadium games to follow, all of them have more or less fallen short of the original. Pokémon Stadium had a lot of hype around its initial release. Fans of the Pokémon games had spent years battling and trading via transfer cable, playing their games on massive brick-sized gameboys and playing through a game with less than stellar graphics. It took battles that involved pixels jiggling on screen with screen flashes and weakly animated flames and breathed life into them. Of course, this aspect of the Pokémon Stadium games hasn’t changed.
Stadium & Battle Mode
pokemon-stadium-gameplayEvery new copy of Pokémon Stadium included a transfer pack, a device that was plugged into the bottom of the N64 controller in which you could pop in your Pokemon red, blue, or yellow version. This pack allowed you to transfer Pokémon from the games into Pokémon StadiumThe battles are, of course, the heart and soul of the Pokémon Stadium games. In Battle Mode, you could challenge a friend who, if they had their own transfer pack, could fight with their own team or, if they lacked a transfer pack, a team of default Pokémon from within the game. In Stadium Mode you could face off against a gauntlet of NPC’s that grew progressively more challenging. In the Stadium Mode, there were four “cups” that you could compete within, each with its own set of rules and standards: Level 1-00
  • Pika Cup: Battles for Pokémon Level 15-20
    Petit Cup: Battles for Pokémon Level 25-30
    PokéCup: Battles for Pokémon Level 50-55
    Prime Cup: Battles for Pokémon Level 1-100

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

This made the game interesting even if you didn’t know anyone that could battle you one on one. It also made for great strategy training as the later NPC’s in each cup grew more and more difficult.
There are other battle modes in which you and your friends can compete, and while they’re broken up into multiple categories (Event Battles, Free Battles, and Battle Now), they’re essentially the same thing: fighting against a friend. Your friend can use some of the Stadium’s “on loan” Pokémon or transfer some of their own using a separate transfer pack. The battles themselves function much the same way as within the Pokémon mainstream games, so it’s pretty easy to pick up if you’re familiar with the franchise.
Kid’s Club
Game ModesWhen you get frustrated in the Battle Mode or you’re a little tired of beating your friend around the stadium, there’s Kid’s Club. As childish as the games were, they were extremely addicting.
There are nine in all, each with their own little unique mechanics. Up to four players could compete against one another. Each game lasted all of a few minutes but they were strangely entertaining.
Magikarp’s Splash involved a group of Magikarp who had to jump and hit a counter as many times as they could manage within a short span of time. The one with the most points on their counter won. Clefairy Says was a memory game. A Clefairy at the front of a classroom would do a series of gestures and the other Clefairy, controlled by up to four players, would have to copy what she did from memory. The Clefairy with the least amount of mistakes won. Run, Rattata Run was a Rattata racing game. Snore War was essentially tether ball with drowzee and hypno. Thundering Dynamo involved a handful of electric-types trying to charge a battery the fastest. Ekans’ Hoop Hurl was essentially a game of horse shoes using Ekans in place of horse shoes. Rock Harden would have rocks falling on Metapod or Kakuna, each player would have so much energy to spend on using the move “harden” to avoid being crushed. The last one standing won. Dig! Dig! Dig! involved sandshrew racing to dig to the watery spring underneath. First to the water won! FInally, there’s Sushi-Go-Round. This game was my personal favorite and involved four Lickitong running around a Sushi bar trying to out-eat the others.
Honestly, the games weren’t fun alone, but with a group or even just one more friend they were a blast.
Gameboy Tower
Gameboy ModeWhy this function hasn’t made a return is beyond me. Using the transfer pack, you could access the gameboy tower and actually play your Pokémon games on the big screen. When you defeat the PokeCup or the Prime Cup you can unlock the doduo mode which allows you to play your game at 200% speed. When you defeat both PokeCup and Prime Cup modes, you unlock the dodrio mode which allows you to play even faster. For grinding- this was awesome. You could easily beat the game in a few short hours.
You could change the boarder if they’re too distracting and each game (red, blue, and yellow) had its own “theme”. It was a lot of fun to play and it allowed you to quickly bring up a new team to help you compete in the stadium itself.
All that other stuff.
Of course, there was more. The only one that was actually useful was the Pokémon Lab in which you could trade Pokémon with another player using the Stadium game instead of the link cable, you could look through your boxes, and store some Pokemon on the game. Pre-dating Pokémon Bank, we had Pokémon Stadium to hold onto our precious Pokémon while we restarted to collect all the starters. Aside from that there is the Victory Palace which was more or less a glorified hall of fame, and the gallery which allowed you to take photos of your Pokémon .
Over all, the game is a classic. For an old game, the graphics were actually pretty impressive but for today’s standards they’re more than a little lackluster. The models are kind of blocky and their movements are kind of awkward. There’s not a lot of diversity in how the attacks are executed and the music is less than memorable. There is an announcer but I ended up turning it off after a few rounds because he ended up proving to be more of an annoyance than anything.
I’ll never forget the hours of my life that I poured into this game and it’s honestly disappointing that the successors of this classic haven’t been able to improve on what was a solid formula.

The Bottom Line

 

If you're a fan of Pokémon , this game isn't a bad addition to any collection. It's a lot of fun to battle in every cup and scenario, the mini-games are addicting, and the GBA tower is an amazing feature that I would love to see again. It's an old game but it's a classic.

 

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Kelly

I was born and raised in a traditional Christian household, educated privately, and brought up with a passion for Christ. The works of CS Lewis and Tolkien were my greatest influences. I aspire to become a published fictional author, hopefully illustrating my own work as well. Christ is the center of my universe and my faith is the lens in which I look through in regards to everything. As far as games go I am swayed best towards fantasy/action/rpg's.

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