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Pokemon Battle Revolution

Platform(s): Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Genius Sonority


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Wii Review - 'Pokemon Battle Revolution'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 24, 2007 @ 12:17 a.m. PDT

Pokémon Battle Revolution will use its wireless connection to interact with its NDS brethren Pokémon Diamond & Pearl. This will open various options such as playing NDS games on the TV, and using the NDS tactical screen for your Wii games. Pokémon Battle Revolution will allow you to see your NDS Pokemons battle in 3D on the Wii.

Genre: RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Genius Sonority Inc.
Release Date: June 25, 2007

If you've ever owned a Nintendo handheld system, odds are that you've played at least one Pokemon game. Between the main titles in the franchise to the spin-off titles like Pokemon Ranger, Pokemon is one of Nintendo's most prolific franchises. However, one thing that can be said about almost every main Pokemon title is that they're not very graphically impressive. The visual differences from the original Pokemon Red to the new Pokemon Diamond are slight, with the gameplay focusing more on new gameplay systems and additional monsters to collect and battle. Back on the Nintendo 64, Nintendo attempted to fix this by introducing Pokemon Stadium. It allowed players to transfer their Pokemon from a Game Boy cartridge to the Nintendo 64 by way of a special controller attachment, finally allowing players to battle one another in full 3D. The problem was that, aside from battling other players, Stadium didn't have much to do. If they weren't battling, all players could do was play a few pointless mini-games. As various sequels came out, Nintendo slowly adapted the game to allow new and more interesting things for players to do when friends were not available, and Pokemon Colosseum even offered a full RPG adventure of its very own. Considering these advancements, it is completely strange that Pokemon Battle Revolution is by far the most simplistic of the series.

Pokemon Battle Revolution has nothing to do except for battling. You can't play mini-games, improve your Pokemon, or go on an adventure. You can modify your trainer and your Pokemon team, but once you've accomplished that, all that is left is battling. That's right, Pokemon Battle Revolution offers less single-player gameplay than Pokemon Stadium, and the actual battles themselves are functionally unchanged from the recent Nintendo DS Pokemon offerings. The only catch is the various handicaps the game gives you, such as only using three Pokemon at a time, being allowed to use each Pokemon only once, or various other limitations on your team. However, despite these restrictions, a team imported from your Nintendo DS game will have absolutely no trouble tearing through every single enemy you come up against.

Don't buy this game if you don't have Pokemon Diamond or its sister game, Pokemon Pearl because without a Nintendo DS, Pokemon Battle Revolution is almost worthless. Unlike the last title in the Pokemon Stadium franchise, Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon Battle Revolution offers almost no worthwhile single-player modes. There is no adventure or exploration or storyline here. Instead, all you shall be doing is going up against bland personality-less trainers in endless battles. While players without a Nintendo DS game can use pre-created "Rental Teams" to battle through the various tournaments, there is no reason for them to do so because there is no reward at the end, no customization of your team — nothing to make battling endless enemies fun.

The one thing that Pokemon Battle Revolution should have going for it is graphics. After all, the current Pokemon titles on the DS are limited by the system's requirements, so they can't do much with the animations. Unfortunately, Battle Revolution doesn't do very well in this aspect, either. The various Pokemon are all in the game, and all have very nice models. They have a variety of animations that match the actual Pokemon quite well, ranging from Jigglypuff deflating like a balloon when defeated to Infernape imitating a Dragonball Z character when recovering from an attack. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Pokemon attack animations. Instead, Pokemon have only a few set animations they go through no matter what the attack, with various effects used to show what the attack is. Oftentimes, the only difference between attacks is what color a Pokemon is glowing or what effect comes after the attack hits. Even worse is that many of the game's attacks lack any sense of impact at all. Flash Cannon, one of the better Steel-type moves in Diamond and Pearl is instead rendered as a slow-moving wisp of light that pops like a bubble when it impacts the enemy. Even more annoying is that Nintendo didn't bother to program any sort of "miss" animations for any of the attacks! If an attack misses, is blocked, or is otherwise stopped, you don't even see the attack launched. It simply shows the Pokemon standing there quietly, and a box tells you that the attack missed.

Considering that Pokemon Battle Revolution's selling point is allowing players to battle one another in a more aesthetically pleasing environment than the rather lackluster arenas offered on the Nintendo DS, it is shocking that more work wasn't put into these Pokemon. Instead, while Pokemon Battle Revolution looks better than the GameCube offerings, it still doesn't manage to justify itself as a game that is simply watered-down and slower versions of the same battles found on the Nintendo DS. The opposing trainers you face in the game's tournaments are not very bright, much like their counterparts on the DS. They'll use seemingly random moves and weak Pokemon, and even poorly optimized teams can probably tear through them without challenge.

Even the audio experience manages to be less pleasing than its Game Boy counterpart! While Pokemon Diamond and Pearl had some of the best and catchiest music in the franchise, Pokemon Battle Revolution is stuck with bland and forgetful tunes. The sound effects of the Pokemon attacks feel muted and dull, removing a lot of the impact from the moves. Among the worst features is the announcer. Like a sports game, Pokemon Battle Revolution features a bombastic announcer who shouts loud comments after ever action. Not only is he annoying, but his phrases rarely match up to what is happening onscreen. (More than once, I heard him yell, "A beautiful attack!" upon being hit with a move that was not very effective against my current Pokemon.) Thankfully, you can turn him off, but without the announcer, it becomes even more apparent just how bland the sound work is.

Winning tournaments in Pokemon Battle Revolution lets you win Poke-Coupons. Basically money, Poke-Coupons can be spent at the in-game shop in order to purchase items. Mystery Gift items are Technical Machines, Hold Items and various other minor things that can be sent over to your Nintendo DS version of Pokemon. However, while it is nice to be rewarded for your tedious victories, the actual items are rather pointless. The TMs themselves are mostly minor special-effect moves that may be fun to learn but are not worth the time and effort required to get the Poke-Coupons to earn them. Likewise, the Hold Items are duplicates of ones you can already earn in the main game, and thus are useful only if you really desire to make a team equipped with nothing but Quick Claws. If you don't have a copy of Pokemon Pearl or Diamond, this option is naturally worthless. If the rewards were better, this could have been a redeeming feature for Pokemon Battle Revolution. Instead, it simply ends up as one more thing you find it difficult to care about.

Aside from Mystery Gifts, the only thing on which to spend your hard-earned cash are new outfits for your Pokemon Battle Revolution trainer, from new hats or outfits to various kinds of face paint. It's a neat idea, but one that just doesn't work well in practice. Despite the variety of outfits, it quickly becomes apparently that there are only six different character models in the game, and few of them can really be changed in any meaningful fashion. Rather than customizing a trainer however you want, you instead tend to encounter "Muscular Man with Blond Hair" vs. "Muscular Man with Blue Hair and a tan" situations. Apart from the basic costume, you can customize what your trainer says in various situations, such as when sending out a Pokemon and when he or she wins a battle. The ability to customize your trainer is something that Pokemon has been missing for a while, but Pokemon Battle Revolution doesn't do anything close to enough to make it interesting. As it stands now, you'll probably make one or two characters and quickly forget about the custom trainer option from there.

One of the biggest selling points of Pokemon Battle Revolution is the game's online play. Players can battle one another in a method very similar to the Nintendo DS' Pokemon titles. In fact, that is the biggest failing of Pokemon Battle Revolution's online play. In order to get the full use out of it, you need to already have access to a Nintendo DS and online play ... so it doesn't bring anything new to the table. Instead, all it does is allow you to perform the same battle you'd play on the Nintendo DS, only with with better graphics. Unfortunately, the actual online gameplay moves at a snail's pace. Waiting for the loading and attack animations online is aggravating and tiresome, and it isn't really worth the trouble just for better graphics. Admittedly, the game does offer a random battle mode not found in the Nintendo DS version, but these random battles are limited; you can't communicate with your opponent or even use custom nicknames. (It's a sensible limitation to prevent perverted players with unwholesome nicknames, but still rather annoying.) Without a face on the other end, a Pokemon battle just isn't very fun. Considering that the Nintendo DS version offers full voice chat, it can't help but win in this contest.

Pokemon Battle Revolution simply isn't worth the money. Other than the privilege of being the first Nintendo Wii title with online capability, it has nothing else going for it. The visual quality is certainly not worth full price, and even as a budget title, it would be hard to make arguments for Revolution being worth your time. Battles are slow and tedious, and the AI opponents are braindead and foolish. Without owning another system and a completely different game, Revolution isn't worth that much. Rather than being a worthy successor to the Stadium franchise, Pokemon Battle Revolution instead manages to be the most unpolished and boring of the lot. Those gamers eager for 3D Pokemon would be better off waiting until Pikachu's appearance in Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. It would certainly be a more satisfying experience than this.

Score: 5.5/10

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