The two Nintendo GameCube exclusive Pokémon games, Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, were the first fully 3D Pokémon experiences, predating Pokémon X and Y by nearly 10 years. These games are the black sheep of the franchise for a variety of reasons, there are no wild Pokémon encounters and even when they are implemented in XD they aren’t used traditionally. There are no GYM battles or a Pokémon League pushing you’re journey forward, instead these games are much more story focused. Catching Pokémon is done through stealing them from unsuspecting trainers that have been duped into perpetuating darkness in the region of Orre by the evil syndicate Cipher. These games are all different from main series Pokémon entries for these mechanical reasons, but they have very special different elements that makes these games, more particularly, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, some of my favourites in the storied franchised.
The aesthetic of the Orre region in both games assists the game in creating its own vivid identity. The towns and dungeons in these games are unlike any in the main series games, both in creativeness and grit. Colosseum has a clearly gritty aesthetic, you begin at the Outskirt Stand, a desolate train turned store, then the player journeys to Phenac City and Pyrite Town. These clearly juxtapose each other and provide insight in the variation of environments in Orre. Pyrite is a criminal underbelly and Phenac is a palatial estate, ultimately the irony here is that Pyrite is run by a flawed man with a heart of gold in Duking, while Phenac is run by the evil leader of cypher and final boss of the game, subverting players expectations. These environments extend to the lively and unique underground city known as the ‘Under’ and Agate Town, a retirement village in the forest, full of old-time Pokémon Masters. However, XD takes the evil dungeon idea to a whole new level with the introduction of a literal upside-down industrial polluting pyramid used as a lab, and a volcanic evil liar that serves as a final area. These environments are captivating and are a joy to roam through, and are like nothing seen in other Pokémon games, making these games standout as the black sheep of the series, along with all the mechanical difference discussed earlier.