I was always a collector growing up, but it never included crickets or any other backyard critters like Chi. Instead I was into collecting static things like comic books, video games, or to a much lesser degree, baseball cards. Still, I figure it was the collecting angle that grabbed me when I first played Pokémon. Having the most Pokémon had a great appeal to me and I delved into the game pretty fiercely trying to get as many as I could and at the same time trying to build them up. Unfortunately, the appeal was relatively short-lived for me and I never developed the strong bond with my Pokémon that Pokéfans seem to have. After trading a few Pokémon and building up the ones I had to a certain level, I realized that I had my fill and rarely ever picked up Pokémon again.

That said, I have always been able to accept Pokémon for what it is—a collecting and training fodder for the kid in all of us—and I can praise it accordingly. When it comes to Stadium, I will agree up front with Chi that it isn't the best as a stand-alone game, but when viewed with as part of a total package I have to admit that this is a dream for any Pokémon fan. I cant tell you how cool it was see my previously 2D, black & white Pokémon in all their full-color, 3D glory. The battles on the Game Boy grew annoying because they lacked detail and movement. Thanks to the move to 3D, everything takes on a more realistic feel and for the most part, the Pokémon became more aesthetically pleasing. Seeing Charmeleon, for example, standing before me with flames emanating from his tail as he was in the middle of an ember attack, made the battles I went through to build him up feel all the more worthwhile. It goes without saying that any Pokémon fan would love this if even a jaded Pokémon trainer like myself enjoyed it so.

There are a few downsides to this game and key among them are the battles themselves. As Chi said, they are lacking in any sort of randomness and even when engaging in a tournament there isn't a whole lot of reward for winning, let alone progressing through the ranks. As a sort of double-edged sword, the move to the Nintendo 64 finally gave the Pokémon unique animations for each of their moves; however, after playing for a while, I was getting mild flashbacks of the spell animations I had to sit through while playing Final Fantasy VIII. Another problem comes with the games add-on nature. After a few hours in the Stadium, the battles begin to grow old; entering multiplayer modes can be great fun, but that too can wear thin and there is little else to hold your attention. The mini-games and gallery are modest diversions, but are entirely forgettable. The final saving grace may be that if you can go back to the Game Boy games and play them through the Transfer Pak on the your big screen TV. This way, if you never got far in the adventure mode, you can complete the game or train your Pokémon to be better suited for tournament battles.

As I said before Stadium is not the finest example of a stand-alone game, but in all fairness, it was never to meant to be. It was to be used with Nintendo's very innovative Transfer Pak, and when linked with a Pokémon game, it offered new options and modes that enhanced the original games experience. With the exception of a true Pokémon sequel, I doubt fans really could ask for more. Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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