Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness was Genius Sonority’s second and final RPG on the GameCube console and the team behind the home console entries wanted to go out with a bang. Gale of Darkness does what a video game sequel should and improved both the gameplay and the story tenfold, building off Colosseum through its reuse of cities and areas while including many of its own. But are all the new additions and fixes enough to hold my interest a second go-around? Maybe? Let’s dive in and find out!
Set five years after the events of Colosseum and once again taking place in the Orre Region, players take control of a young trainer named Michael who lives with his mother and younger sister name Jovi.
Similar to the premise of its predecessor, XD’s main villain is once again Team Cipher. This time, the group created Shadow Lugia codenamed XD001; a being so powerful that it is immune to purification.
It’s up to players to once again explore the Orre Region and its new surroundings to put an end to Team Cipher’s plans for world domination while purifying as many Shadow Pokémon as they can along the way.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness’ story is another run-of-the-mill Pokémon adventures without the gym leaders and gym badges which I’m fine with as that formula is a tad stale for my taste. I like it when the franchise go into new directions (something we’ll see later in the future) as the world of Pokémon is too expansive and unique to be tied down to standard gameplay tropes. But boy… Gale of Darkness is still a chore to play through no matter how much it tries to set itself apart from the mainline titles… and while the story is interesting at times, at the end of the day, it’s a safe “save the world” plotline with some memorable characters here and there. I enjoyed my time with it.
Much like Colosseum, Gale of Darkness is a 3D take on the 2D mainline titles, featuring mostly double battles instead of single battles. Gale of Darkness, unlike its predecessor, includes Poké Spots, areas in-game that allow the capture of wild Pokémon further strengthening teambuilding (something Colosseum desperately needed).
Shadow Pokémon can still be snagged from opponents and can later be purified after fulfilling certain requirements. This time around, the developers went the extra mile to fix the tedium of training and using those types of Pokémon with various quality of life changes. First of all, Hyper Mode was renamed to Reverse Mode which serves the same purpose as it did in the previous game. Second, Shadow Pokémon now have access to many Shadow moves, not just Shadow Rush and speaking of Shadow Rush, that move was nerfed, no longer causing recoil damage to the user. Finally, Shadow moves are now super effective against other Shadow Pokémon, speeding up battles even more.
I failed to mention this in my Colosseum review but unlike the mainline titles, the game could only be saved at the Pokémon Center’s PC. What this means is if players want to take a break from the game, they would have to exit whatever they are doing and find the nearest Pokémon Center which is a CHORE. XD proudly gets rid of that dumb design choice and allows players to save from the game’s pause menu!
These changes, while somewhat small, drastically improved the game’s pacing and made Shadow Pokémon worth using! The game was a blast playing through once again and noticing the small details I had missed out on before.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness was a fun ride filled with goofy characters and actual fun gameplay. Though the story was a bit on the bland design and admittedly, the dungeon designs are a step down from the GBA titles, Gale of Darkness should still be experienced by fans of Pokémon. Do not pass this title up!
Thank you for reading.