Pokémon: Battle Revolution
Warning: This Review Spares No One in its Use of Terrible Puns
On September 30, 1998 Pokémon Red & Blue spread across the states like the plague spread in the middle ages. Since, Pokémon has left its mark on a variety of systems including every handheld (Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and DS), as well as Nintendo 64, GameCube, and now Wii. Second only to Mario as the top selling series of all time, Pokémon has truly become a household name nowadays. So whether you’ve tried it or not, chances are you’ve probably heard of it (unless you live in a cave, in which case I wonder how you’re even accessing the internet at this point in time).
When I was in middle school I received my copy and began my quest at catching them all. Pretty soon I had a level 100 Charizard that I had raised and made 6 copies by yanking the link cable during trading. Ah, Pokémon was the life. And if only I’d known how much more I would play Pokémon Gold & Silver (estimates are not possible) I probably would have cried for all the future lost time.
Regardless of the amount of time put into these gaming masterpieces, one of the coolest ways for me to fight with my Pokémon was via Pokémon Stadium 1 & 2. These games further revolutionized Pokémon by providing gamers with the ability to fight with their Pokémon in epic battles on the big screen. And battling your friends wasn’t even half the fun, beating the rather difficult 1-player mode was equally as enthralling.
I must say, though I spent many hours in some of the more recent Pokémon games, I will never spend more time than I did on Gold, Silver, Crystal, Stadium 1 & 2. I just feel like none of the recent games have been anything close to the quality that was seen in those three Game Boy Color games (it’s a shame I can’t retrieve my Pokémon from these games though…). As for Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, the two games are about as close as they’ve come yet to creating a game as polished and thus my hopes for Battle Revolution to revolutionize my experience and get me hooked on the series once again were very high.
You see, Pokémon can be quite an addiction and though many shun it, they must remember its impacts on the world of linking; Pokémon is really the first game to make linking a popular thing. In the same vein, it also succeeded in being the first game to link a handheld game to a console game via Pokémon Stadium 1 & 2 for the Nintendo 64 (if you don’t consider Super Game Boy a game). Now Pokémon is setting a few more bars in this current generation of gaming, as Pokémon: Battle Revolution was the first Wii game to connect to Nintendo WiFi connection (though there are currently a few more games with this functionality right now), is the first game to connect the Wii wirelessly with a DS, and is the first game to save data to a Wii-mote. It’s great to see innovators making use of functionality at hand and setting the bar for future connectivity.
With all of these great features and the ability to transfer Pokémon from any of the Game Boy Advance games as well as Pokémon Diamond & Pearl (provided you have Diamond or Pearl to transfer Pokémon from the Game Boy Advance games) Pokémon Battle Revolution is sure to make fans of the series delighted. But does the game have enough features and polish to serve a broader audience and does it match up to some of the other current Nintendo released Wii titles?
Battle Revolution is Not Very Effective…on non-Pokémon gamers
Pokémon: Battle Revolution reverts back to the days of Pokémon Stadium as the game is really nothing more than a bunch of subsequent challenges where you must fight series of Pokémon trainers to progress through the game. Unlike the two GameCube titles Pokémon: Coliseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, this game along with Stadium 1 & 2 really don’t have a story. Instead, the game is a Poké-Paradise for any avid Pokémon fan who wants to constantly battle preset matches to ultimately earn rewards for his troubles. This works perfectly for Pokémon fans but leaves little enjoyment for anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, me being the Pokémon fan that I am, I actually love this format due to my personal hatred towards the console Pokémon adventures and their extensively boring story modes, brought about by the lengthiness of the battles as well as load times, which are not present on handhelds. However, like is the case with Dragon Ball Z games as well as Mega Man Battle Network, the most avid fans see more of the same as a further extension of the games they love while others see these repetitions as monotonous. Thus, I and many other fans will probably play through Pokémon: Battle Revolution to the very end (when time permits) but anyone else will (and should) shy away from the title.
I find it a shame that this game lacks any substance other than hardcore battles. The only other true features in this game include the ability to link with your DS, the ability to fight against your friends, the ability to fight people online, and the ability to do other battle related exercises. The only gameplay element other than battle involves customizing your character (the ability to buy outfits and change his/her battle slogan). Even Pokémon Stadium games had more features, minigames, and content to draw non-Pokémon players in. Ultimately, the repetitious nature of the game will make any non-fan bored after only a few battles.
Though Pokémon: Battle Revolution lacks any features other than battling, it does shine in a number of areas related to battling. For one, the connectivity between the Wii and DS is wonderful. If you want to bring your Pokémon from Diamond & Pearl to Battle Revolution, you simply press the “copy Pokémon” button (that’s right you get to copy them on this game, not take them permanently from your DS!), turn on your DS, click “connect with Wii” and in less than a minute, all of your Pokémon boxes are transferred over to your Wii. Also, if you wish to battle your friends, you can use a DS as a controller so as to be able to choose your moves without anyone seeing.
The game features 11 different coliseums, each with different themes and each is unlocked as you finish the previous ones. As was the case with Stadium, the battles get progressively more difficult throughout the game. Players don’t have to have Diamond & Pearl to play the game (there are several rented Pokémon that can be used) but it’s more enjoyable if you do and if you have a party of Pokémon at around the same relative levels.
Online features are also a nice plus as this is the first console Pokémon game to feature online multiplayer. However, the online features very barebones with only two online game modes, “battle with a friend” & “battle with anyone”. I am glad that you can battle with a friend if you have their friend code but my problem with the “battle with anyone” mode is that there is no ladder or hierarchy. Thus, there is no way to tell if a player is a beginner or an expert and thus the mode is not enjoyable for either party (beginners may get thwomped by experts while experts may be bored with little competition if they aren’t paired with anyone at their level). Ultimately, the online multiplayer is not what I or many gamers hoped for.
Friend codes are a nice feature that was existent in all of the previous console Pokémon titles and remains in this game. These allow you to buy items and bring them back to your DS game cartridge. Also, this game gives you the ability to save a party to your Wii-mote, giving you a means of bringing your party to a friend’s house without having to bring your entire Wii or use external media (such as an SD card).
In terms of presentation, the game feels somewhat like other Pokémon titles but ultimately doesn’t match up to the level of excitement presented in Stadium 1 & 2. The game looks very nice compared to its DS counterparts (as should be the case) but compared to the GameCube, there are hardly any improvements. A few touches here or there are the most of the graphical improvement and otherwise the game could pass as a GameCube title (though the Wii-mote interface is a nice way to pass through menus and select your attacks).
The part of this game that personally disappointed me was the musical score. I just wasn’t impressed with the score and feel as if it could be the worst score in a Pokémon game yet (all of the other scores in previous games are great). Also, the sound effects are highly lacking and the announcer becomes quite annoying with only a few set phrases (like was the case in Stadium).
An Itty Skitty Summary
Pokémon is now being battled on the internet both via console and handheld and it’s only growing in popularity. Though Battle Revolution will not appeal to many players who have not played a previous Pokémon game due to its lack of variety, it should be a decent multiplayer experience to fans of the series who want to battle with their friends online. Or, they may long for more in terms of features and anyone who experienced Gold, Silver, Crystal, and Stadium 1 & 2 will be wishing that this game encompassed half of what was present in those games. Still, diehard fans of the series will not miss out on this game despite its many iniquities.
Pokémon: Battle Revolution is the first chance for Pokéfanatics to battle their Pokémon online. Other than this feature, there is really not much more to this game other than some battle sequences and usual Pokémon fare. If you still play the Pokémon DS games, you'll love this game. Otherwise, it's not worth your time.