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Review: 'Pokemon Stadium 2' adds new features


Platform: Nintendo 64


(IDG) -- At a time when the flow of Nintendo 64 games is drying up faster then you can say, "Pika, Pika," the Pokemon have arrived to work their magic for the console. At least Pokemon players have something to cheer about.

Perfectly Pokemon

Serious Pokemon trainers are going to freak when they enter "Stadium 2": You can play with all 249 Pokemon from the Gold and Silver versions. The Pokemon Lab showcases a new Pokedex that displays Game Boy Pokemon in detail, including cool full-screen close-ups and a map of their habitats. You can also visit a Pokemon academy for in-depth info about the critters. And with a Transfer Pak (not included with the game), you can play every Game Boy Pokemon game, including the Gold and Silver versions, on a big TV screen. INFOCENTER
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This Stadium is no pushover when it comes to challenging your trainer's skills, either. Naturally, you and a pal can import Pokemon for head-to-head matches. You can also pit your Pokestable against 21 trainers from Gold and Silver, or challenge for 16 badges. Additionally, up to four players can jam buttons in 12 new mini-games: For example, you can use Mr. Mimes in a Pong-like contest to knock Pokeballs into opposing goals or race rampaging Donphans around a track. If you're a real Pokemon pro, you might try the ego-bruising Pokemon quizzes.

A Stadium Built to Please

"Pokemon Stadium 2" is a solidly crafted game, too. Of course, the simple Pokemon gameplay mechanics don't push the controls at all, but the mini-games use every joystick switch and controller button available -- and "Stadium" responds exactly like a star should. Nintendo didn't just rest on the earlier "Pokemon Stadium"'s graphical laurels, either. The Pokemon images look a little sharper, and, while movement during combat remains minimal, the special-move animations have much more flair than before. "Stadium"'s sounds, however, aren't going set your soul on fire. The minimal Pokemon vocals and special move noises are kinda cool, but there's just not much audio to go around.

The Gold and Silver Lining

If your Pokemon safari has led you all the way into the Gold and Silver carts, then "Pokemon Stadium 2" is a perfect addition to your N64 library. It's worth it just to be able to play your Game Boy Pokemon games on a large screen, but you'll find plenty of Pokemon-pleasing goodies, too.

  • Graphics: 4.0. It's just cool to see your favorite Pokemon, especially the new Gold and Silver crew, operate in 3-D and full color. They don't move around much, but some of the animations for special moves are sweet.
  • Sound: 4.0. As with the first "Stadium," the audio effects for the Pokemon and their moves keep the show moving. The hyperactive announcer gets on your nerves, and the music's sappy but happy.
  • Controls: 4.0. As with the Game Boy games, the simple controls manage your Pokemon zoo and their battle moves with ease. The controls also deal effortlessly with the much more diverse stick-and-button maneuvering of the mini-games.
  • Fun Factor: 4.5. Pokemon fans can't go wrong with "Stadium 2." You can work out your home-grown Pokemon in N64 color, and the Transfer Pak enables you to play any Game Boy Pokemon game on a big screen.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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