Once again we continue our journey to save 'em all. We're hoovering up all the unique pokémon in the main series games going all the way back to Pokémon Sapphire. Here's the introduction to the series, clearing out Fire Red and last time Pokémon Colosseum

Although initially billed as a completely different game to Pokémon Colosseum, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is essentially Colosseum with a series of, for the most part, improvements and a wealth of extras. In addition to the new story focussed around the game's cover star, a Lugia called XD001, XD featured nearly twice the number of pokémon to snag than Colosseum, filling many of the pokédex gaps across the other third generation games. The game is set five years after Colosseum and edgelord Wes who bombed about the Orre Region in a post apocalyptic metalAF hover bike is replaced by Michael who bombs about in a much less edgy hover-moped. You'll revisit a lot of the locations of Colosseum albeit with new characters and story beats and the game introduced several new locations, a few features and side quests to increase the longevity after the story was finished. 

There's Battle Bingo and Battle CD to do, each of which are quite extensive mini games to test your skills in. Battle Bingo sees you working through Bingo sheets with each spot being a battle challenge. Battle CD is a bit more involved as you have to hunt down 50 CDs before you can challenge them at the Battle CD facility. Although the rewards for doing it are slight, working through them all gives you a good foundation of the battle tactics in these games (somewhat reminiscent of the Battle School in Pokémon Stadium 2). One of my favourite challenges is knocking out an opposing team of 6 Shedinja in just one turn, taking advantage of the system in XD and Colosseum's double battles where new pokémon are swapped in immediately following a KO, rather than at the beginning of a new 'turn'. Thankfully, this makes double battles that little bit quicker as you can defeat more than two opposing pokémon per turn using moves like earthquake and surf.

Purifying snagged pokémon is still laborious especially with the increase in the number of pokémon to work through to beat the game and catch Lugia, but a number of tiny changes were made to them, with more variations of shadow moves, changes in how shadow moves worked and unique moves given to purified pokémon, more on which below. 

Overall the game is a much tighter experience. You could still use the game to battle a friend with a GBA and GBA GameCube link cable but unlike Colosseum, all the single player modes are accessed through the main save file. Previously the Mt. Battle Challenge was a separate mode. Graphics and pokémon animations are slightly improved here. XD also introduced three special areas, pokéspots, allowing you to capture a whopping nine species of wild pokémon by buying bait to leave at the spot. Your in-game PDA notifying you when a pokémon has come to nibble on the huge cheese-looking snacks you leave for them. 

There's also a special and somewhat random Mew move tutor and lucky egg and shadow Togepi sidequests to do should you want to see and do everything this game has to offer. 

XD also gave players a sneak peek of pokémon Bonsly and Munchlax which would only be properly introduced and catchable in the Nintendo DS titles Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl

It's in this game, thanks to the slight improvements over Colosseum and the fact that I hadn't completely cleaned out all the items that I decided to run the saved pokémon from Fire Red, Sapphire, Colosseum and XD through to earn the Earth Ribbon, exclusive to the GameCube games. 

LOCATION: Orre Region (five years after Colosseum)

SITREP: Pokedex: The "Strategy memo" records 328 pokémon met. Playtime: 67 hours. Money: $11,000. Items: I hadn't strip mined XD as I had with Colosseum having the foresight to leave two EXP shares, an Amulet Coin and a bunch of rubbish TMs and healing items behind. Nothing in the way of hold items to help with the Mt. Battle tower mind you. In game team; Identically to Colosseum all I had in my party and boxes were low level trade fodder I'd caught in other games to swap in for the XD purified pokémon- Wurmple, Cascoon, Silcoon and a small army of Whismur.

OBJECTIVE 1: XD complemented Colosseum by also giving us four legendary pokémon from the first two Generations. Here the legendary birds, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres are available as well as the poster boy, Lugia. 

OBJECTIVE 2: There are four in-game trades to be had in XD. Duking asks you for the three rare pokéspot spawns, Trapinch, Surskit and Wooper for a Meditite, Shuckle and Larvitar respectively. That Surskit is a rare anything is a joke. There's an additional somewhat more convoluted trade with a trainer called Hordel who gives you a shadow Togepi. You can purify it and trade it for an Elekid which knows three of its egg moves, moves it would only otherwise know through faffing with breeding chains. Or you can purify and evolve the Togepi and trade it back for an otherwise run-of-the-mill Elekid. Or you can choose to keep the Togepi. Worth mentioning also, every time you beat the Mt. Battle challenge from battle 1-100 with the same team, you are gifted one of the Johto starters. Although these gifts come with one of their egg moves and the powerful starter line exclusive moves, frenzy plant, hydro cannon or blast burn, a number of later games gave you the chance to teach these moves to starter line pokémon so they aren't especially unique in this regard and have your OT identification and number.  

OBJECTIVE 3: Ribbons. Much like Colosseum, the Pokémon you snag through the game, once purified, have the unique National Ribbon. However, the number you need to snag and purify here is a whopping 86. Another difference between the purified pokémon in XD is that they each have a move they could not otherwise learn, making each of these 86 'even more' unique. It's important to note though that none of these unique moves are especially game breaking of give the XD pokémon a competitive edge. The special moves are support moves like heal bell, morning sun, refresh, charm, helping hand and baton pass. The Earth Ribbon returns too by running up to teams of six through the laborious Mt. Battle 100 Battle Challenge.  


Cross referencing my spreadsheets with HOME, again flagged up that a few of the 86 purifiable pokémon weren't yet in Pokémon HOME, fortunately, all four legendaries were this time (phew). A quick rummage and I found all but two of the others in My Pokémon Ranch again and transferred them over to Diamond. I was missing the Togepi, mentioned above, but did have Hordel's Elekid, with the egg moves indicating that past me purified the Togepi and traded it back, a decision that current me fully supports. I hadn't done either of the three Duking trades but had a trade fodder Surskit already in a box which I traded for one of my personal favourite but extremely difficult-to-use-pokémon Shuckle. Initially I was intent on catching the other two 'rare' pokéspot spawns to trade in XD itself but after several pokéspot encounters with the common spawns, opted to quickly jump into Fire Red and Sapphire to catch the Trapinch and Wooper to trade for the Larvitar and Meditite. Thankfully, Duking wasn't fussy where in time and space these pokémon came from eliminating what could have been a tiresome time sink getting them to spawn at the pokéspots. FUN FACT Duking also gifts you a Plusle in Colosseum and it has the same OT and number. I'd love to see somebody take a competitive team of Duking pokémon through to a world championship final, although this isn't currently possible as Plusle and the Meditite line are sidelined in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. The other missing pokémon was a grimer, which fortunately, turned out to be one of the rear guard left in Pokémon Fire Red (again). 

One thing I did fall foul with a couple of times in XD with, unlike Colosseum, it seems that everyone in this game wants to battle you. On three separate times hunting for specific NPCs, I ended up entering a battle I was hideously unprepared for, ending up waking up in the Pokémon HQ Lab. 


Purified pokémon transferred and in-game trades done, it only left the business of getting the Earth Ribbon on my motley crew of salvaged pokémon. In order to earn the Earth Ribbon you have to run a team of up to six pokémon through the 100 trainer battles at Mt. Battle. In order to get the ribbon you can't interrupt your challenge and come back and you can't change your team of six as I learned by running off to check a pokéspot twenty battles in, completing the 100 battles and getting nada. You can, thankfully save your game, move your pokémon around within the team and move items around. 

For those of you keeping track of the 'mon saved from technological failure rapture, I had the following pokémon to run through the challenge. From Fire Red: A Farfetch'd called CH'DING, a Nidoran(F) called MS. NIDO, a Nidorina called NINA, an Electrode called ESPHERE (still a cool name), A Tangela called TANGENY a Mr. Mime called MIMIEN and a Raikou called Corrs. I'd plucked a Plusle from Colosseum and I'd just traded Duking for a Shuckle, Meditite and a Larvitar. Seeing as it made sense to do all of the languishing third generation pokémon in one go, I also did a quick check of Pokémon Sapphire saving a Skitty called SKITIT and did one of the worst in game trades ever for a Corsola named COROSO. More on that in the Sapphire diaries. There was also the rogue Grimer making a total of 14 pokémon in need of a ribbon. 

I'd thought that going through the 100 battles in a row wasn't too challenging, more time consuming thanks to the lengthy move animations. The earlier battles start with very low level pokémon so I was planning to use running my team through the Battle Tower as a way of levelling them up so they might stand a chance in some of the harder challenges across the other games. After the initial aborted attempt mentioned above, I started struggling around battle 50 on my next try. My team just wasn't high enough level. Given that I'd have to do the battle tower at least three times to get the Earth ribbon on all the team, this is when I decided to 'cheat'. 

Thankfully I have my brother's copies of Pokémon Leaf Green and Pokémon Ruby which were left as he left them back when they were originally released so transferred a level 100 Groudon named after our family cat and a level 98 Rayquaza, legendary pokémon and the lord of the stratosphere which my brother had called Ardbitch. I'll return them I swear. Having Rayquaza and Groudon on my challenge team would mean that I could only get four ribbons per run meaning four runs rather than three but given that with Ardbitch and Groudon I was almost guaranteed to win them without being kicked back to the beginning, I decided on this tactic. 

Yep, give me another three hours and I'll see you again buddy.

The 100 battle challenge itself isn't too tricky. It's not until the 60th battle that you start facing fully evolved pokémon and the trainers start to deploy any kind of tactics. With Ardbitch's outrage and extreme speed and Groudon's earthquake and erupt it was almost a case of mashing 'A' three times, clicking through introductory and victory text boxes and walking to the next stage. It demanded just that little too much attention that I couldn't have another game on the go in order to get in done quickly. The last three battles are perhaps the most challenging, with pokémon like Regice, Registeel, Latias and Suiciune but they aren't level 100 so with the exp advantage and paying a bit of attention it was easily done once, twice, three times and finally a fourth time. Many hours later, it was Earth ribbons all round. Nods were given to Ardbitch and Groudon for the assist and they were sent back to live out a happy retirement until hardware failure consigned them to the great pokémon ranch in the sky.

It was a slog but that's me done with the Orre region and time to head off through space and time to the Hoenn and the seriously daunting number of ribbons in Pokémon Sapphire


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