Quite a few years back, the Pokémon craze could only be found on the GB or in the form of an addicting card game. With the arrival of the N64, new doors opened for the franchise and a new game called Pokémon Snap hit store shelves.
It wasn’t exactly the game all those Pokémon fans were looking for, but just a short while later they were hit with a mind boggling game called Pokémon Stadium that sucked up many hours from kids free time–exactly what the little Pocket Monsters are known for doing. Due to the massive success of the first game and the franchise itself, Nintendo decided to make a sequel to the ever addicting game and add much more to it.
Some of the best N64 graphics could be found in the first party titles, Pokémon Stadium not being an exception. Pokémon Stadium 2 starts where the first one left off and adds a lot of detail and animation to the game that helps make you feel as if you really are in the Pokémon world. The game has some of the highest resolution graphics of any of its time and the characters animate almost flawlessly (with the exception of some collision issues, which are found in almost any game even today). Each Pokemon is complete and looks exactly as they should in 3D, as if they were taken straight from the TV show. I wasn’t at all disappointed at how these Pokémon animate, and if you’re a fan that knows your Pokémon through and through, you won’t be disappointed either.
What kind of Pokémon game would this be if there wasn’t any impressive Pokémon battling action? Just like in all the other Pokémon games, each Pocket Monster has their own unique moves and some that most of them can learn, for example the ever-popular Tackle. There are some very impressive particle effects that will leave your jaw dropped and your eyes wide open yearning for more. The lighting effects of a Lightning based move are nice and the Psychic attacks from your mind bending Pokémon look dark and stunning. With the new moves from Pokémon Gold and Silver comes a lot more variety in offensive and defensive attacks, each one as visually stunning as the next. For example, Rain Dance makes it rain of course, and the rain will continue for as long as the move lasts. It sprinkles on the ground of the Stadium, clouds block out the sun, and you get the occasional lightning strike that never fails to impress.
The last thing I’ll mention about the graphics in this game is probably one of the most important and one that definitely pulls Pokémon Stadium 2 together: proportion. Just like in the first game, each Pokémon is directly proportional to each other and comparing their sizes as they stand side by side is believable and, strangely enough, realistic. This comes to a relief since having a Wartortle stand taller than a Charizard would seem a bit odd.
Overall, the graphics are as good as they can get. The game improves on the original Pokémon Stadium ten fold. You are able to see each detail on the Pokémon more clearly in this title than you could in the first, and each move is upgraded to look not only as it should but as stunning as possible. Pokémon Stadium 2 is a gem to behold.
The audio in the game is just as good as the visuals and an exponential imporvement over the first title. The announcer sounds a lot clearer and has a variety of new lines that make you feel more like you’re in an actual Pokémon battle. Unfortunately, just like the first title, the Pokémon don’t make much noise at all. When they are released from their PokéBalls they do make their signature call (the clicks and beeps found in the GB versions), but other than that there isn’t a peep to be heard, except for the moves, of course, which do sound great and believable.
Though the effects are nice to hear, the music is something else all together. It’s a good mix of calm, mild, and intense beats that suit each situation properly. Mini-games are themed with their own music with battle music a bit more intense. The overall tone of the music and effects in some of the battling is much more hip, if you will, than the first Pokémon Stadium. While the first game features more soft and traditional music to the Pokémon franchise, the second game turns in a more upbeat direction. The change gives each game a one-of-a-kind sense and changes the overall feel of the sequel to feel. There’s a nice mix of spruced up old tunes too, so expect some familiar Pokémon music.
Overall, the audio in Pokémon Stadium 2 is a nice mixture of good sound effects and fantastic, up-beat music that fits the Gold and Silver worlds nicely. Although the announcer was played impressively, it would have been nice to hear each Pokémon as they are in the TV show rather than their GB bleeps. Still, the audio in this game does improve on its predecessor and is impressive nonetheless.
Pokémon Stadium 2 takes the formula from the first and pushes it even further by adding more modes, variety, and more intuitive, nuanced gameplay. At its core, Pokémon Stadium 2 plays exactly like the first title: you choose six Pokémon before you start your game and then choose three of those six to use during a battle. During the battles you and your opponent duke it out much like the previous GB titles, the only difference being that you can’t use items or gain experience. Once you or your opponent loses the three Pokémon you chose to use, the battle ends and you move on. If none of your Pokémon get knocked out, you earn an extra continue that can be used just in case you lose a match. If you lose, you can either use your continue or start over. The entire battling part of the game is addictive, easy to understand, and like the rest of the Pokemon games, fun.
There are a ton of places you can put your battling skills to the test, including the Stadium, Gym Leader Castle, a Free Battle area, and the GB Tower, so you won’t feel any emptiness here. In the stadium are four different categories: Little Cup, Poké Cup, Prime Cup, and Challenge Cup. Each category has its own set of rules that make the matches feel fresh and interesting. For example, in the Challenge Cup, my personal favorite, you are given six random Pokémon all at the same level, and you have to battle through eight different trainers. It’s fun and surprising to see which Pokémon you’ll get.
Gym Leader Castle is a place where you can take on the Gym Leaders of the game with your Pokémon from the GBA versions, and Free Battle is a place where you have complete control over your battles where one to four folks can battle it out. You can choose your own rules in Free Battle as well as whether to use rental Pokémon or the ones from you GB games. You can even register sets of six Pokémon into the game so you can swap cartridges and use your friends Pokémon (if you only have one transfer pack).
Last but not least, the GB Tower allows you to play your Pokémon game on the N64. After you complete certain requirements you can unlock Doduo and Dodrio modes which speed up the GB game about three times faster. The clock in the Pokémon game does go along with the speed at which you are playing, so the actual time of play won’t be accurate when you finish, something that probably couldn’t be avoided.
Just like in the first Pokémon Stadium, there are a lot more things to do than just battling. You can head on over to the Pokémon Academy where you can learn all about Pokémon and battling them. You can learn some good strategies that are explained thoroughly and are easy to understand. On top of that, after you learn something you are offered the chance to try it out, which makes things more exciting and helps you remember the lesson. You can also learn about all sorts of things from items to moves and eggs to evolution. If you’re new to the Pokémon world, want to learn more, or just need a refresher course, the Pokémon Academy is the ultimate in Pokémon education.
There’s a Laboratory in the game that allows you to organize your Pokémon either in an N64 box or a GB box. It also helps you organize your items and check through a list of Pokémon that you’ve caught or still need to catch. It’s a good place to go to get organized and if your PC box is full you can always store your Pokémon in Pokémon Stadium 2.
Overall, this game is good–really good. It has plenty of things to do; just one area could keep you busy for hours! It’s terribly addicting and fun for any Pokémon fan out there, and you won’t get sick of it for a long time.
There are a lot of things for you and your friends to do in Pokémon Stadium 2, including mini-game tournaments, battles with home-raised Pokémon or rentals, and quizzes, all of which can be played alone or with three of your friends. It never gets tiring when you’ve got buddies to play with and it’s a lot more fun when you’re not alone.
Overall, Pokémon Stadium 2 is a game that can stun you away graphically, even in the days of our GameCubes and Xboxes. The audio is nice and hearing some familiar tunes brings you back to your Pokémon roots. There’s loads to do in this game, from learning even more about your Pokémon to battling them four-player style, so you’ll have no problem keeping yourself busy for days or even weeks at a time. Pokémon Stadium 2 truly is a gem of a game and is even better than most from the current generation. It improves drastically on the first game and definitely deserves to be played by any Pokémon fan out there. I know I’m still having fun with it.