Number of Players:
The Good Press:
Fantastic graphics and the ability to play all 151 Pokemon is a combination that Pokemaniacs are sure to love. Plus, you can now play Red/Blue/Yellow on your TV.
The Bad Press:
Abysmal sound and elementary gameplay aren't going to attract any newcomers to Pokemania.
Supports: Transfer Pak, Rumble Pak
Raymond M. Padilla
Stadium is a gorgeous game that's limited by the cartridge format. Pokemon fans will definitely love the game, but it's not going to create any new converts to Pokemania.
Move over Power Rangers. Hit the road Teletubbies. The Pokemon craze is running wild, and its all-encompassing wave of commerce has yet to reach its crescendo. The critters are making a second run at the N64 with Pokemon Stadium. This strategy game lets you combat all 151 Pokemon--including the ones you raised in the Game Boy games--so you can find out if you're a Pokemon master or a neophyte. Although Pokemon fans are certain to love this game, it has several flaws that prevent it from adding more followers to the Pokemon movement.
The game really grabs your attention graphics-wise. Quite simply, Pokemon have never looked better. Even the graphics in Pokemon Snap, which were quite good, pale in comparison to the visuals found in Stadium. Each Pokemon is well detailed, and several of the projectile attacks are nicely rendered. It's even more gratifying when you upload your Pokemon from your Game Boy games onto N64 via the included Transfer Pak. The grayscale creatures you nurtured really come alive. I almost shed a tear of pride the first time I saw my Jolteon use its thunder attack in 3D.
That's not to say that the graphics are perfect. The Pokemon never touch when they battle because of the limited storage capacity of cartridges. The artists had to render each Pokemon performing every possible move they could learn, which took up plenty of room. Now, imagine if they had to render each Pokemon with every possible move executed on every possible opponent. That's asking too much from a cartridge, which is a shame, because this aspect would have rocked on a CD or DVD-based game.
To make matters worse, the sound is dreadful, and barely above Game Boy quality. It would have been great if the Pokemon used the same sounds found in the television series, but because of cartridge limitations (again!) almost all of the Pokemon are relegated to wretched noises. The commentator is enjoyable at first, but his schtick gets old fast. The commentary would have benefited greatly from more variety, but because of cartridge limitations (where have I heard that before?), you're stuck with the same repetitive phrases over and over again. For example, surf is one of my favorite attacks, and every time the announcer yells, "Ride that surf!" I must pause and take time out, lest I throw my controller through my television.
Gameplay is definitely a matter of taste. The vast majority of the game entails Pokemon combat, which is essentially an elaborate game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Water Pokemon have an advantage over fire-type. Physical Pokemon are weak against psychic-types. Flying Pokemon are no match for electric ones. This is tons of fun if you enjoy Pokemon. You'll be thrilled when your Starmie extinguishes a Charizard, or when your Alakazam unleashes a savage psychic attack on a Machamp, or when your Raichu zaps an Aerodactyl. If you don't enjoy Pokemon or are unfamiliar with them, then you have a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors that's full of ancillary elements and strange creatures with names like Zubat or Vulpix (which totally sounds like a type of VD).
Gamers who were obsessed with Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow should note that there are some significant differences in Stadium combat. First of all, you cannot use items to aid your Pokemon in battle. Secondly, you do not have the option to switch Pokemon after you've knocked out your opponent without losing a turn. Both these changes make sense, as they allow for more balanced gameplay and quicker battles.
Players who have raised their own Pokemon have a huge advantage over those who are using the Stadium's rental Pokemon. The rentals do not have the best stats, and are often missing powerful attacks. Nintendo did this in order to encourage players to purchase Pokemon Game Boy games. It's also a nice reward for gamers who have been diligently raising their Pokemon for months. All those hours it took to reach level 83 now seem totally worth it.
One of the game's fortes is its variety. There are a number of different battles you can choose throughout the game. Gym leader castle allows you to compete for badges against the trainers found in the Game Boy games, as well as in the television series. Stadium mode lets you compete for four different tournament cups. Free battle allows up to four players to duke it out, no-holds-barred style. When you're done with all this, you're treated to R2 (round 2) of these modes, which is more challenging and nigh impossible to complete with rental Pokemon.
There are also some other bonuses that add a lot of value to the game. Professor Oak's Pokemon Lab, while a bit daunting at first, gives you much more powerful and efficient ways to organize your Pokemon and items. GB tower allows you to play Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow on your television; this will save you loads of AA batteries, not to mention the eyestrain. Finally, the kids club contains nine different mini-games for a nice change of pace. While most of them make Mario Party seem as complicated as Flight Simulator 2000, they're plenty of fun with three or four players. My personal favorite is Ekans Hoop Hurl.
If you're in any way a Pokemaniac, then you owe it to yourself to get this game. You'll absolutely love it. If you're only mildly interested in Pokemon, then I'd suggest picking up the Game Boy games first, because Stadium will do nothing whatsoever to increase your love of these creatures. Fortunately for Nintendo, there are millions of fanatics out there ready to snatch this one up. Heck, I even bought two copies for myself.
- Avoid the more popular Pokemon like Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander. There are much better electric, water, leaf, and fire Pokemon out there like Jolteon, Starmie, Exeggutor, and Ninetales.
- If you're starting a new Game Boy game, it's a good idea to upload your Pokemon as they reach the levels that correspond to the various Stadium cups.
- Status attacks are even more devastating in Stadium. It's a good idea to have Pokemon that have status attacks like hypnosis, thunderwave, sleep powder, or lovely kiss.