Following the selection process, your character (known as a trainer) must carefully coach his creatures to fight the enemy roster, with victory going to the trainer who still has Pokémon standing at the end of the battle. If all of your team faints, you lose and must walk away from the battle, and probably the tournament, in defeat. A turn-based system governs combat, with each trainer choosing their next move and the game deciding the outcome. Speed is a big factor in this, as the faster Pokémon will almost always land the first blow. When both are near fainting, this can be critical. Attacks range from a plain-Jane attack to ones that cause less damage but also hurt the enemy in less obvious ways. Sand Shrew, for example, can cause minor damage with his Kick Sand attack, but the blinded enemy also loses accuracy, which can reduce their likelihood of hitting in subsequent rounds. Still other attacks can confuse the enemy, cause long-term burns, or steal their life and use it to heal the attacker, while many Pokémon also have defensive skills that can up their own statistics. Each creature will have four abilities, and careful use of each in a well thought out strategy will most likely win you the day.
Should you not yet have acquired mastery of all things Pokémon, however, fear not, as Pokémon Stadium 2 provides just about everything you could ever want to brush up your pokédex and knowledge of these creatures. Heading into White City will provide you with the central area of the game, and access to all sorts of educational, organizational and combat-ready facilities. Earl’s Pokémon Academy is a great place to learn the intricacies of the matches, as the jovial instructor will lead you through a series of classes and then test you on your knowledge at the end. Should you have friends handy, you can even compete to see who can provide the right answer first, as if it were a game show. Earl’s library is also a complete and exhaustive resource for finding just about anything you could ever want to know about your little friends, including some extra details like Pokémon mating habits (newly introduced in Gold and Silver) and their resulting eggs.
Trading creatures, items and information is a big part of the Game Boy versions of these titles, and Pokémon Stadium 2 adds even more options. You can use its interface to move things from cartridge to cartridge, and also use your N64 cartridge as yet another storage space for captured creatures and discovered items. The larger interface of the N64 also makes it easier to sort your various lists of characters and other items in your pokédex, organizing your team for use in your Game Boy quest. Speaking of quests, you can still use the Transfer Pak to upload any of the Game Boy cartridges into your N64 and play them on your TV. This is, obviously, much easier on the eyes than playing on the Color, or even the Advance, and many fans will probably consider this one of the best features of Pokémon Stadium 2.
Of course, there are always the requisite challenges in the Stadium waiting for you, and a variety of cups and challengers await your attention. Depending on which cup you choose, you will sometimes be assigned teams of a fixed level, while other times you’ll be given the chance to bring your own group into the stadium to test their skills. Climbing the tournaments can be a Herculean feat, but this is the eventual goal of the game, and any self-respecting trainer will eventually want to cut their teeth with this mode.
Should you tire of the constant battle, though, there’s still more action awaiting you in the Mini-Games island. In addition to the aforementioned knowledge quizzes, there are two mini-game modes for you to try, one providing a single match while the other is a championship. Facing tasks such as a four-player game of Pong, grabbing fruit with Eevee in a test of timing, or powering an area roughly the size of New York in Pikachu’s Power Plant, you’ll task your reflexes, skills and timing all at once in what can only be described as a series of Pokémon party games. Of course, since each game features a specific type of critter, if you happen to have one saved as a part of your party, you can bring him into the mini-game, with a special bonus granted for winning with one of your team.