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Video Game: Pokémon Colosseum

Pokémon Colosseum is a spinoff of the incredibly popular Pokémon franchise for the GameCube. Developed by Genius Sonority and released in 2003, the game and its sequel Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness are notably Darker and Edgier than the rest of the series. The subseries takes place in the desert region of Orre, where there are no wild Pokémon to be found. So how do you accomplish the usual task of catching and raising your own small army of adorable little forces of nature then? You steal them, mainly from the bad guys.

The main character of Colosseum, Wes, is a top operative of an organization known as Team Snagem. Using a device known as a Snag Machine, this gang is infamous for "snagging" Pokémon from Trainers all across Orre. All is well until Wes pulls a spectacular double cross on the organization, stealing their only portable Snag Machine and blowing up Snagem's headquarters. Upon reaching the town of Phenac, he stops two thugs in the middle of kidnapping a girl called Rui: a girl who can perceive a strange black aura around certain Pokémon that indicates that they have been corrupted into heartless fighting machines known as "Shadow Pokémon". She pleads with Wes to use his "snagging" expertise to help her purify all the Shadow Pokémon and uncover the conspiracy behind their creation.

Pokémon Colosseum is notable for being the first fully-3D Pokémon RPG (with a storyline and everything!) and for some unique gameplay features: such as the fact that every fight in Orre is a double battle, requiring a whole new set of tactics from regular play.

The sequel, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, was released the following year.

The series as a whole contains examples of:

  • After Combat Recovery: At least in normal (non plot-driven) Colosseum knockout challenges such as the Phenac and Pyrite Colosseums, and Mt. Battle.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The early-game AI isn't very intelligent, and will sometimes attack Pokémon with moves that they resist or are immune to. See this video for an example.
    • The AI also loves to gang up on the Pokémon in the first slot for some reason.
  • Aerith and Bob: The two main characters have the fairly normal-sounding names of Wes and Rui. However, everyone else has really weird, made-up-sounding names. One possible theory is that it's due to a bad attempt at making the setting seem more exotic. Another says that the game's translators brought in a bunch of toddlers to bang on the keyboards. Oh, and there's the possibility that it's direct Japanese translations... or Danish, because at least two of the trainers have Danish words as names. Words such as lazy and sewer!
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Shadow Pokémon cannot be Lost Forever, as you can eventually rematch all Shadow Pokémon Trainers.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Another theory about the weird names of Orre is that the weird names were selected to give the region an otherworldly, foreign feel.
  • Badass Longcoat: Wes.
  • Black and White Morality: Cipher's primary characterization is that they are unashamedly trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD (Of course!), with all members being fully aware of this goal. A stark contrast from Pokémon's use of relatively small scale groups with the goal of making money, Well Intentioned Extremists, or complete tools who are just blind pawns for the (actually evil) Big Bad, and unlike the few enemies of other spins offs that are made entirely of evil folk, they aren't silly self-proclaimed villains.
    • Black and Gray Morality: While Cipher is undeniably evil, Wes is no saint, either. Up until just before the start of the game, Wes was himself a member of one of the region's criminal organizations. He even had a reputation within his organization for being very good at stealing Pokemon, a trait which is on full display throughout the course of the game.
  • Book Ends: Both the first and last battles of the game take place outside of the Outskirt Stand.
  • Boss Bonanza: Before you ascend the tower for the Final Battle, you have to fight Miror B., Lady Venus, Dakim and Ein(but you can heal your Pokémon between the battles or do anything else you need), where you have to do another one, three powerful trainers, then Nascour, then Evice.
  • Bowdlerise: Rui's shirt no longer shows off her navel and has her skirt lengthened a few notches (originally it was shorter than Dawn's) outside of Japan. A bit odd in such a Darker and Edgier work.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Miror B. He has a Poké Ball afro. He loves to dance. He's also an Admin of an evil Pokémon organization.
  • But Thou Must: Don't want Rui to follow you around? But Thou Must! Don't want to help Rui save all the Shadow Pokémon? But Thou Must! Want to use your Pokémon-stealing device to steal non-Shadow Pokémon? But Thou Mustn't!
    • This is played with a little when Wes confronts Gonzap, his old boss from Team Snagem. When he asks you to rejoin the Team, you can say "Yes", but if you do that, he doesn't believe you, and gets angry. Whether you accept his offer or decline it, the result is the same: You have to battle him.
  • Canon Immigrant: The PC's physical design in the Orre games is the standard design in Generation 4.
    • Speaking of which, the physical/special move split seen in Gen IV started with the Shadow moves in XD.
  • Ceiling Cling: Cipher Peons do it sometimes.
  • Check Point Starvation: Although it isn't much longer than the average dungeon, the Shadow Pokémon Lab doesn't have any healing machines or PCs halfway through to make the trip easier. But at least your enemy encounters don't respawn.
    • Mildly done in general as you couldn't just save anywhere, unlike other games.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Miror B. seems to be in his own little world most of the time.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cipher is regularly indicated to have Pokémon physically attack humans (Trainers can be found on the ground in pain saying how they lost). "Pokémon are (pocket) monsters that can seriously injure or kill a human, the only reliable defense against them is other Pokémon (which is gone if all yours are KOed)" has always been the Elephant in the Living Room of the series, implied, but never stated, (Except in Pokemon Special, where it is completely explicit), though Cipher is the only one to carry out the implied threat (again, outside of Special). Mitigated from a Curb-Stomp Battle by how aforementioned manga has humans pull off feats that would be impossible without levels, such as lifting a Rhyperior - in addition to being the only ones capable of using items such as Hyper Potions... or weapons of somekind. Still, having a Pokémon attack you unexpectedly out of nowhere is going to hurt.
  • Cool Bike: Wes' hoverbike monstrosity is his primary mode of transportation. The laws of physics say that that thing shouldn't be able to move, but of course the Rule of Cool trumps this.
    • Cool Sidecar: During the first two trips, the side car has Espeon and Umbreon in it, with both of them sticking their heads out the top into the wind like real-world dogs.
  • Crapsack World
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Eagun attempts to fight a Cipher minion with his high-level Pikachu, to no avail.
  • Darker and Edgier: Oh boy, see the intro for the tip of this iceberg. Very noticeable, as it premiered right after the Lighter and Softer first three generations.
    • This is the first game to show a Trainer using physical violence against another trainernote .
    • Colosseum is also this with reference to XD, which is much Lighter and Softer. In XD, you start in the more idyllic setting northwest of the desert, Orre is no longer quite so barren, Pokemon are returning to the wild, several of Cipher's old hideouts have been reclaimed, the Under was filled in, etc.
  • Dark Is Edgy: Shadow moves are types 1 or 4.
  • Dark Reprise: After Es Cade is revealed to be Evice, his theme switches to a sinister version.
  • Difficulty Spike: The two final bosses. Most of the battles you've faced so far are up to the high 40s maximum, but the last two are in the 50s and 60-61 respectively. You'll likely have to grind a bit before you can stand a chance of beating them.
  • Dramatic Wind: Every single battle seems to have high speed winds coming from the center, given the way the Trainers stand.
  • Desert Punk: Especially the first few parts. Virtually no law (only two real cops in all of Orre!), bone-dry wastelands, criminal gangs tearing up the place... prototypical Desert Punk. Agate Village is the only exception to this. Exactly why Orre is so bone-dry is never explained.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Pokemon Colosseum only has three boxes for storing Pokemon, since there are a finite number of Pokemon available in the world, totaling fewer than 90. Normally, this would mean that the boxes can never be completely filled. However, the game accounts for the case where the player manages to fill up all three boxes (only possible through importing dozens of Nincada from a GBA game and evolving them all into Ninjask and Shedinja) and prevents you from snagging more Pokemon.
  • Disc One Nuke: You start with Espeon in Colosseum, which begins with Return (and maximum happiness), and the STAB boosted Confusion. Umbreon, on the other hand, is a defensive tank in a game where tanking is awful thanks to the 2v2 format.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: See The Reveal below.
  • Eagle Land + Americans Are Cowboys: Word of God gives the basis for the crime ridden wasteland of Orre as Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Elite Mooks: Cipher Peon Skrub, who is battled three times and is given a leadership role in relation to his fellow peons during the first two.
  • Endgame Plus: After beating the game, Wes starts receiving email from the Kids' Grid members hinting about where to find more Shadow Pokemon, including the old Team Snagem hideout which he blew up during the opening movie. On the other hand, nobody acknowledges the defeat and arrest of Cipher's leaders, and the player may return to Realgam Tower Colosseum to challenge the final battles again.
  • Enormous Engine: Wes probably stole the engine for his hovering motorcycle thingy from a Greyhound bus...or a Top Fuel dragster...or a diesel locomotive. It's mounted at the very front of his vehicle; only the Rule of Cool keeps the machine from nose-diving forward and catapulting Wes and Rui face-first into the sand.
  • Everything's Funkier with Disco: The one, the only, Miror B.
  • Expy: Ein is basically Hojo in the Pokémon universe.
    • Rui also resembles, and even acts, like Misty in her pre-GSC/HGSS design.
    • Many, many, many characters are or have been suspected of being expies of characters from various canons of Pokémon. It's actually part of the fun for some people trying to see which characters are which.
  • Faceless Goons: Cipher Peons. Ironically, they are the only evil team grunts in the series with individual names.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Wes and his trench coat/snag machine combo.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Cipher administrators:
  • Foreshadowing: In Colosseum, a couple of easily missed dialogue lines reference a man who made got very rich in the mines of The Under and a rich man building the Tower Colosseum (Cipher's HQ). These seem like throwaway lines until you realize, no one encountered in the Cipher Administration of Colosseum is wealthy. They're refering to Mr. Verich aka Grand Master Greevil, the Bigger Bad of the series.
    • Or possibly Evice, who is Mayor of Phenac.
  • Funny Afro: Miror B.'s massive, Poké Ball-colored afro.
    • He even has an aspiring fanboy in the form of Mirakle B., who may be a Loony Fan.
  • Game Face: When Evice is revealed to be the true conspirator, his features turn evil and horrific right before he battles you.
  • Ground Punch: This is how Earthquake is animated: the user punches the ground and ripples travel out to break the ground under everyone else. Unless it's something without arms, like Vibrava/Flygon, then it just starts shaking and makes the ground shake)
  • Guide Dang It:
    • To fight Mirakle B., go to where Miror B. was after he is defeated, but before the final boss. A bit of an Easter Egg.
    • There's also how to get Ho-oh in Colosseum, which is never hinted at anywhere in the game, as well as a huge slog through 100 consecutive battles (fortunately, you're allowed to save between them). The kicker? If you're not using Pokémon off of your Colosseum file, you won't get Ho-oh.
  • Heel-Face Turn:
    • Wes breaks off from Team Snagem at the beginning of the first game (stealing the Snag Machine and bombing their hideout). Whether this constitutes a full turn or not is debatable, given the opening of the game leaves him in an Ambiguous Situation. He doesn't officially turn to Face until after Rui ropes him into her mission to collect Shadow Pokemon. It's unknown what he would've done if he'd never met Rui, since he seemed pleased to get his hands on the Snag Machine in the beginning.
    • Eldes and Greevil in the second game ultimately perform one after they're defeated.
  • Heroic Mime: Like most protagonists in Pokémon games, Wes doesn't speak much, but there is one exception during Pokémon Battles when the player uses the Call command, a game mechanic unique for this game, most often used to make a Shadow Pokémon snap out of the rage it tends to fly into due to the dark corruption that Shadow Pokémon are cursed with. When this happens, Wes simply shouts its name.
  • Inevitable Tournament: Want to get into Miror B.'s hideout? Go win the Pyrite Colosseum challenge first so they can reward you with a Shadow Pokémon.
  • Interspecies Romance: There's an NPC in Agate that is dating her Mightyena.
  • Jiggle Physics: Miror B.'s afro. Also, Sealeo's fat, Muk's sludge and Miltank's udders.
  • Joke Character: The Plusle you get from Duking, which starts off as horribly below everything else in the game in terms of levels. And if you're only playing the game for 100% Completion in Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, it's even more worthless to you.
  • Karma Houdini: All the Cipher admins except Nascour and Evice.
  • Kick the Dog: Cipher is pretty much all about this trope. For example, during Cipher's attack on Mt. Battle, Dakim knocks a Trainer to the ground with a huge punch. That's how evil and strong he is.
  • Kid Hero: Averted for the first time in the franchise with Wes.
  • Lost Forever: Averted; if you fail to Snag a Shadow Pokemon the first time, you will eventually get a chance to rematch the trainer and try again, although it will be much later in the game. However, it's played straight with Mirakle B., who leaves forever after you beat the game.
  • Magic Skirt: The camera is quite careful about this for every female opponent, but it becomes really noticeable if you play VS mode with Leaf, who still has a skirt that just barely covers the hips and has a pose (one foot out forward and leaning in, as if bracing against wind) that should provide maximal pantsu, but the skirt is posed in just the right way for it to reveal nothing at any camera angle.
  • Marathon Level: Mount Battle.
  • Master of Disguise: Silva, a rare purely good example.
  • Mind Rape / Heart Trauma: The methods involved in Shadow Pokémon production, with Empty Shell, Superpowered Evil Side, and The Corruption as the inevitable result.
  • The Mole: Es Cade.
  • Morality Chain: Rui, kind of. She won't allow Wes to use the Snag Machine on anything but Shadow Pokemon.
  • Morality Pet: Wes's Espeon (and possibly Umbreon) starts with max happiness, as if to assure the player Wes cares for his Pokémon, despite his stats as an ex-Snagem member.
  • Mythology Gag: Rui's grandfather. Aspired to be a Pokémon master? Granddaughter's a redhead? His oldest, strongest, and closest Pokémon is a Pikachu? A reference to Ash, the protagonist of the anime.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: An early Nintendo Power ad made out Wes to be an outright villain.
  • Nintendo Hard: The story mode is a huge Difficulty Spike compared to the rest of the series, because of the small pool of available Pokémon, and the fact that bosses are not suffering from Crippling Overspecialization. They use legitimate—and often very effective—strategies which can easily decimate your party.
    • A common one in the late game is for one of their Pokémon uses Protect, while the other unleashes Earthquake.
  • Non-Elemental: Shadow Rush (90 power, incurs recoil) is completely exempt from elemental matchups.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Despite the fact that Wes saved Rui from kidnapping, their relationship doesn't seem to be romantic.
  • Obviously Evil: Nascour. That hair.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: One of the complaints was how in order to get all of the Pokémon before FireRed, LeafGreen, and Emerald were released, you needed this game and one of those GameCube to Game Boy Advance Link Cables.
  • Perky Female Minion: Venus.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Wes' model consistently displays him with a frown, making him look solemn and dour... in stark contrast to the wicked grin he has at the beginning of the game when he's stealing the Snag Machine.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Wes and Rui... probably. Rui doesn't seem to speak of him romantically, and Wes doesn't speak at all, so they seem to be this way.
    • That never stopped the shippers, though.
      • On the other hand, Rui seems to have a crush on Wes early on - she brushes off the fact that he used to be fairly highly ranked in Team Snagem even though she's probably only known him for fifteen minutes or so at this point, calling him her "gallant prince who rescued me". There are also some NPCs who seem to refer to the two as a couple.
  • Point-and-Click Map: Rather than the usual free-roaming between each town, the player instead moves between areas via a map-selection screen, with cutscenes of the player character driving between locales.
  • Police Are Useless: Taken to a nearly horrifying extreme. There are a grand total of TWO cops in the entire two games, both working the same crime-infested city and unable to do much about any of it, and one of them is a complete moron. There may be more that we don't see.
  • The Power of Friendship: Hilariously enough, Cipher's master plan of closing the hearts of Pokémon to turn them into mindless killing machines can be completely reversed by simply caring for the Pokémon.
  • Primal Stance: There is no reason for Dakim to be walking around like a gorilla, aside from the fact that he is characterized as a brutish thug.
  • Punny Name: A few, seeing as this is a Pokémon game. (Silva, a silver-haired character, is one example.)
  • Quieter Than Silence: When you battle Nascour, there is no battle music whatsoever, only the distant sound of the crowd.
  • Random Encounters: Averted, unlike the main series. There are no wild Pokemon whatsoever in Orre until XD— the only Mons you battle in Colosseum belong to opposing Trainers.
  • The Reveal: The mayor of Phenac City—that fat, balding old man you meet a grand total of once before he goes back to being a useless NPC? He's the Big Bad.
    • Foreshadowing: Remember where you first meet Nascour? The mayor's office? Yeah.
  • Recurring Riff: There is a 13-note melody that appears in the Pyrite Town music (at the beginning), the normal battle theme (just before the turnaround), and the Cipher Admin battle theme (partially at the beginning and later at the climax), as well as at least partially in some other songs in the game.
  • Save Game Limits: You have only one save "file" ... per memory card, at least. The file is also locked to the card it was created on; you can't copy it off to a different card.
  • Save Point: The PC's normally used for Pokemon/item storage also save your game.
  • The Scottish Trope: "A distant land" (listed in "Met" in a Pokemon's profile page) is the only reference made to Orre in the rest of the series. PERIOD.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: When you face a Shadow Pokemon in battle, they have three normal moves and the signature move "Shadow Rush", but once you've Snagged them, they've apparently forgotten everything but Shadow Rush. (They do get those other moves back during purification.)
  • Secret Character: Ho-oh. You have to purify all the Shadow Pokemon, then beat Mt. Battle — not within the story mode itself but in Battle Mode from the frontend menu, using Mons from from your Colosseum save file.
  • Slasher Smile: A rare good example comes from the protagonist as he roars off from the destroyed Snagem base.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Much more cynical compared to the main series and Mystery Dungeon games.
  • Space Western: Well, futuristic western. The game makes use of western style archetypes (vigilantes against town controlling gangs), setting (crime-ridden desert with little to nothing between the mostly independent towns that only have a state and federal government above the local law in theory) and music (there is a large amount of harmonica in the tracks, sometimes using underneath a techno and piano combination, which works shockingly well.)
  • Spikes Of Anti-Heroics: As if Wes doesn't look Badass enough, he has these around his ankles.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Nintendo 64 Stadium games.
  • Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy: The Cipher Syndicate:
  • Stripperiffic: Some of the female civvie and hood Trainers dress in this fashion, but no more than the average Rockette. Cipher Peons averted this before Galactic Grunts did - slimmer Faceless Goon suits are all you get if you're XX. Venus is somewhere between the two.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Trudly and Folly.
    • Those Two Bad Girls: Reath and Ferma.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: The Bodybuilder Trainer class.
    • Interestingly enough, this design aspect doesn't change for the female Body Builder class.
  • Underground City: The Under.
  • Vice City: Pyrite Town.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss / Early Bird Boss: Miror B. in Colosseum is this due to the fact that you can't level up any Snagged Pokémon yet, and you have precious few moves that are effective against his team. At least his battle theme is a Crowning Music of Awesome.

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alternative title(s): Pokemon Colosseum; ptitle7dxrh9xx; Pokemon Orre Games
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