A lot of fans have been clamoring for a new Pokémon Colosseum type game since the last one, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, came out on the GameCube. It makes sense; the games were very unique compared to the mainline titles. They had a focus on story the handheld titles didn’t, they didn’t feature wild Pokémon to capture and instead had the player steal Pokémon from other trainers (called Snagging), and it had a unique region based on the American state of Arizona instead of Japan. However, there’s another element of the game that explains why it’s so unlikely to get another game similar to it: the double battles.
In Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, GameFreak introduced the concept of Double Battles. Instead of having only one Pokemon out, each trainer would have two. This was a really cool concept, and allowed for a huge variety of different strategies than what was possible with single battles. These games were the ones to feature it the most prominently, with a good handful of double battles against NPC trainers, and even one double battle as a gym battle. But even with these, it was certainly an under-utilized concept.
Somebody at the Pokémon Company must have realized this. Despite how awesome the concept was, no player would really seek out any major double battle strategies for their playthrough since double battles were few and far between. They made Pokémon abilities and moves that would be super useful for double battles (and even two Pokémon: Plusle and Minun) but it seemed all for naught for the average Pokémon player. So the idea to have a game focused only on double battles came about.
Before Colosseum, the previous two Pokémon generations had games on the Nintendo 64 that allowed them to have 3D Pokémon battles called Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2. They didn’t feature a story of any sort, and really were just more of a challenge mode for your main Pokémon team. Colosseum expanded on the concept of Stadium, allowing for players to battle each other with the fancier 3D models if they wanted to, but also having its own story and cast of Pokémon to capture that were unavailable in the handheld games at the time.
They combined the ideas of having Double Battles with what people liked about the Stadium games to create an experience all on its own. Enemy trainers would have teams built around Double Battle strategies to add difficulty and depth. They also added trainers to the battlefield to be seen alongside their Pokémon, something not done in the Stadium games, but what seemed like a natural evolution of the more graphically advanced console Pokémon games.
Double Battles were arguably a gimmick in the generation 3 games, but the Colosseum games expanded them into something more. Generation 4 didn’t feature any new battle modes, so its 3D counterpart, Pokémon Battle Revolution, didn’t bring too much to the table. It felt more like a retread of the Stadium duology. Still, it was fun to see the Pokémon in 3D, as well as having the trainers still on the field.
In Generation 5, Pokémon Black and White, the idea of Triple Battles and Rotation Battles were introduced. Just like Ruby and Sapphire, while they were in the game they were so rarely used that it wasn’t worth attempting to build a team around for a casual playthrough. It seemed like the perfect concept for another Colosseum treatment. An entire game where every battle was to be with three Pokémon out! But it didn’t happen. In fact, there was no Generation 5 spin off game that allowed you to battle with Pokémon in 3D. Maybe Triple Battles weren’t as well received as Double Battles were, or perhaps it’s because they didn’t make new moves or abilities specifically for these new battle types (or maybe a little bit of column A and column B) but for whatever reason, they figured it wouldn’t be worth it to make a game focused on it like with Colosseum.
Then, X and Y, Generation 6, came out. In it, a new battle gimmick: Mega Evolution. But this time, something was different. It wasn’t something technically in the game but not really used, it was a major focal point. All the advertising was about this new element. It was something that could be used in every battle once it became available. It wasn’t just one gym leader that used it, but multiple, and even the Elite Four! A spin-off focusing on it would feel pointless.
To top it off, the mainline games were now in 3D. They weren’t as realistically proportioned as Colosseum and trainers couldn’t be seen in battles, but honestly, a lot of the Pokémon looked better in X and Y then they did in the old N64 models (even if the animations were less exciting and personality driven in the handheld games).
As new generations came out, they continued to focus on the new battle gimmicks in the mainline games with Z Crystals and Gigantimax. Graphics continued to improve, with Sun and Moon putting trainers into the battle screen just like Colosseum, and Sword and Shield being on console. Things that were once unique to Colosseum were slowly absorbed into the ether that is the main Pokémon titles.
Even the emphasis on story and unique, non Japanese-themed location became ho-hum when Black and White came out. Unova was based entirely on New York, followed with France in gen 6, Hawaii in gen 7, and England in gen 8. Black and White became well known for its story and themes, and since then people expect the same in follow-up games, just look at Lillie and Lusamine’s story in Sun and Moon.
Truly, the only identity Colosseum has now that the modern Pokémon titles don’t is its more expressive Pokémon animation, and its Snag mechanic. I do think it’s entirely possible to make a new Pokémon game based around that concept, but it just seems unlikely. Colosseum was fun because it put a spotlight on the newest generation’s battle gimmick, something which isn’t needed any more. It was awe inspiring to see your Pokémon transformed from small sprites to fully animated 3D models, something which isn’t a difference any more. It was energizing to see how much more character and story focused the series could be, something that some people say the mainline games do too much now! A new Pokémon Colosseum, as it was last seen over a decade ago would be redundant in the modern Pokémon era. Even if a new Pokémon Colosseum type game came out with the Snagging mechanic was released, in order to make it stand out from the modern Pokémon games so much would have to be changed, that I’d be willing to bet the fans clamoring for a new one wouldn’t be all that pleased with it anyway.
Why There Will Never be Another Pokémon Colosseum.