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The Upcoming Pokémon Live-Action Series Should Take Inspiration From This Game

The Upcoming Pokémon Live-Action Series Should Take Inspiration From This Game Image
  • Posted on 26th Sep, 2022 09:25 AM

The upcoming Pokémon series has countless sources to draw from, but one unexpected source of inspiration could be the 2004 classic Pokémon Colosseum.

p>Netflix has recently announced a live-action series based on the massive cultural phenomenon that is Pokémon. Out of the thousands of hours of media that the franchise has produced since the 90s, some fascinating story and worldbuilding details could come from a particular source; the 2004 Gamecube hit Pokémon Colosseum.

Little is known about the plot of the upcoming Pokémon series, nor which if any works in the franchise it might take inspiration from. It will be the second attempt at a live-action take on the franchise after 2019's Detective Pikachu, which the creators have established as unrelated to the new series.

RELATED: Lessons Netflix's Live-Action Pokémon Series Can Learn From Detective Pikachu

Perhaps the biggest problem with Pokémon as a franchise is the similarity of plotlines throughout the majority of its projects. The narrative almost always centers on a young upstart as they quest to become the very best. Inevitably, each of these plots carries dozens of distractions and side objectives that can be interesting and varied, but the main thrust of the narrative is usually the same. There are exceptions, games like Detective Pikachu or the Mystery Dungeon series which feature totally different genres in the same universe. Pokémon Colosseum is rare amongst its peers; a game that manages to keep the battle game format while innovating with storytelling.

Pokémon Colosseum was developed by Genius Sonority, a development studio forged by a developer previously best known for work on the Dragon's Quest series. The company began life with the goal of developing Pokémon games for Nintendo, and Colosseum was their first outing. The game innovated on the Pokémon formula in a variety of ways, adapting concepts from JRPGs like Final Fantasy or Persona to update the gameplay for consoles. Of the twelve Pokémon video games released before Colosseum, eight follow the traditional towns, gyms, badges formula and the other four are spin-offs like Snap and Pinball. Colosseum broke new ground for the franchise.

Colosseum is about a criminal organization using unethical science to artificially control and subjugate the eponymous creatures for their own profit. The group creates and wields "Shadow Pokémon" who are powerful, but uncontrollable and therefore dangerous. The plot follows a man and a young lady who work together to uncover the illicit activities of Team Cipher and save the creatures changed by their grim work. In a brilliant example of spinning the existing property to a new direction, the main character is a reformed member of Team Snagem, this entry's answer to the ever-present antagonists like Team Rocket.

The plot of the game achieves something impressive by simply rearranging a number of pieces already introduced by other parts of the franchise. The main character, Wes, is a skilled Pokémon trainer whose past is entangled with a group of thieves. He starts the game with an Umbreon and Espion. The structure of the game still necessitates that the plot's conflicts still be solved through battling other trainers but making the main character a former member of one of the classic enemy teams reframes the narrative. Wes, at one point, has to infiltrate a Pokémon tournament to root out corruption. This flips the typical trainer versus team narrative and demonstrates the deeper moral details of the universe.

Another aspect of the game that still stands out is its tone. The typical Pokémon project is light and upbeat, a charming childhood adventure about achieving dreams. Colosseum is far from miserable, but it is more serious than its peers. Where other Pokémon narratives occasionally touch on crime or evil heads of business, the moral almost always boils down to treating the titular animals with respect. The lesson is almost always about friendship, but Colosseum tells a tale of a former criminal finding peace by turning his life around and using his skills for good. While other stories in the franchise are not always without complexity, Coloseum decisively shows that a Pokémon story can be about anything, an important lesson.

Pokémon Colosseum manages to create a narrative about fighting crime, unethical science, redemption, and even political corruption, all still within the framework of trainers pitting their Pokémon against each other. The upcoming series has an uphill battle to consider. Having to fill the lengthy runtime of a full live-action series could be challenging, but there are key lessons to be taken away from games like Pokémon Colosseum. In a franchise that is frequently criticized for its repetition, every deviation within its concepts is crucial.

The live-action series needs to exist in the Pokémon world fans know and love, but should have the courage to show more than the traditional random battles, gyms, and tournament structure. One of the most interesting things about the universe is the degree to which everyone has committed to battle as the main form of conflict resolution. People in the universe could be scientists, artists, cops, or criminals and still spend tons of time leveling up their favorite team to solve all their problems. This enables creatives to tell all kinds of stories around the same framework and often with the same tools.

Pokémon Colosseum is important for the strides it made in a franchise that is often accused of stagnation. The upcoming Netflix series can look to Colosseum to see that the classic franchise mainstays can be looked at from new angles to create infitine new and fantastic stories.

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