Pokémon Stadium, released as Pokémon Stadium 2 in Japan, is a strategy video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 video game console. First released in Japan in April 1999, it was later released as the first Stadium title in Western regions the following year, and is a sequel to the Japanese-only 1998 Nintendo 64 release Pokémon Stadium. The gameplay revolves around a 3D turn-based battling system using the 151 Pokémon from the Game Boy games Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow.
Using the Transfer Pak accessory that was bundled with the game, players are able to view, organize, store, trade, and battle their own Pokémon uploaded from Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow. One of the main focuses of the game is the completion of the four stadium cups, each of which is a series of three-on-three Pokémon battles against an ordered lineup of opponents. Another battle mode called Gym Leader Castle allows battles against the eight Kanto gym leaders and the Elite Four. Other features of Pokémon Stadium include mini-games, versus-style battles, a hall of fame, compatibility with the Game Boy Printer, and a built-in emulation function for Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow.
Pokémon Stadium went on to become one of the Nintendo 64's best-selling titles, reaching one million copies sold before the end of 2000. Critical reception of the game was mixed, with critics praising the game's visuals but finding fault with the audio quality. A sequel, Pokémon Stadium 2, was released in English-speaking regions in 2001 as a counterpart for the next-generation Pokémon Gold, Pokémon Silver, and Pokémon Crystal games.
Unlike Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, Pokémon Stadium does not have a storyline, meaning that it is not considered a role-playing video game. Instead the game challenges the player to defeat trainers at the Stadium, a tournament consisting of four "Cups" and 80 battles in total, as well as the Gym Leader Castle, where the player battles the eight Kanto Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, and the Champion. When all Cups have been won and the Gym Leader Castle is completed, a battle against Mewtwo will be unlocked. Defeating Mewtwo unlocks another round of Stadium, Gym Leader Castle, and the Mewtwo battle, but with higher AI difficulty.
In Stadium mode, the player is challenged to earn trophies by winning the Pika Cup, Petit Cup, Poké Cup, and Prime Cup, each having its own set of rules and restrictions. In the Poké and Prime Cups, four trophies may be earned, one for each level of difficulty, but the Pika and Petit Cups only award one trophy each. After choosing a Cup to compete in, the player decides on a party of six Pokémon, which may include available rental Pokémon and/or Pokémon imported from a Game Boy cartridge. In each battle, the player and the opponent are only allowed to use three of their six Pokémon. The player wins a trophy after successfully completing all battles in a Cup.
In the Gym Leader Castle, the player initially challenges the eight Kanto Gym Leaders from the Game Boy games, followed by the Elite Four, and finally the Champion. Before battling a Gym Leader, however, the player must defeat a gym's three Pokémon trainers. Like in the Stadium, the player has to pick a team of six Pokémon, either rental or imported, and may only use three at a time for battling. Each time the player defeats the Elite Four, one of eight randomly selected prize Pokémon will be awarded, which can be transferred to the player's Pokémon Red, Blue, or Yellow game using the Transfer Pak. The prize Pokémon are Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Eevee, Kabuto, and Omanyte.
The first Pocket Monsters' Stadium was released in Japan on August 1, 1998. Once intended as a Nintendo 64DD launch title with a March 1998 release date, it was instead converted to a standard Nintendo 64 game on a 32MB cartridge. Because of technical limitations, this version features 42 Pokémon available for battle, instead of the full 151 Pokémon from the Game Boy versions as originally planned. The remaining Pokémon can be viewed in a Pokémon encyclopedia called the Pokédex, but the models lack the required animations for battle. Connectivity with the Pokémon Game Boy trilogy is available using the Transfer Pak. The game sold a reported 270,000 copies in its first month of release. This version was not released outside Japan, and as such the numbering of the subsequent 2 is ahead of the North America releases.
On February 16, 1999, Nintendo announced that it would be showing Pokémon Stadium 2 in a Japan-exclusive event called Pokémon Festival '99. Early reviews of the game from Japan's Weekly Famitsu Crew were favorable. Because the first game had met criticism for its difficulty, the AI was toned down for the sequel to make it easier for average players. Released as Pokémon Stadium throughout North America and Europe, this version supports the transfer of all first generation Pokémon to and from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow via the N64 Transfer Pak. Nintendo also released a limited edition bundle in North America that included Pokémon Stadium, a Transfer Pak, a Nintendo 64 console, two controllers, a poster, the strategy guide by Prima Games, and a "Cool Porygon" trading card.
Pokémon Stadium received mixed reviews from critics. GameSpot contributor Jeff Gerstmann gave the game a 5.7 "mediocre" review, writing that the gameplay "feels scaled down and oversimplified, even when compared with the original Game Boy games". IGN's Peer Schneider wrote an 8.2 "great" review of the game, calling it "a must-buy for Pokémon fans", but also citing that "the audio is nowhere near the quality of some of the recent Nintendo releases". Regarding the game's announcer, a frequent complaint among critics, RPGamer's Ben Martin wrote that: "With a very limited vocabulary and continual comments thoughout [sic] every single action, it certainly is a nice option to be able to turn this guy off". In his review on gaming website Cubed3, Ross Morley praised the game's battle system for its "beautiful 3D models, special effects and range of options".
In its first month of sales in North America, Pokémon Stadium sold over one million copies, and it became the best-selling console game in the region during the year 2000. Nintendo of America announced that it would be released as a Player's Choice title, a well-selling game with a lower suggested retail price, on December 26, 2000. Approximately 3.97 million copies have been sold: 3.16 million in the United States, 710,765 in Japan, and 100,000 in the United Kingdom
Months after its debut, a follow-up to Pokémon Stadium, tentatively titled Pokémon Stadium Gold/Silver, was announced by Nintendo. The game was released in 2000 and 2001 as Pokémon Stadium 2, featuring the 251 Pokémon from the first two generations. Transfer Pak compatibility was included for Pokémon Gold, Pokémon Silver, and Pokémon Crystal—as well as Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow.
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