It ain't no revolution...
Whereas some people may prefer handheld monster battling because of its portability among other things, for others the simple sprite monsters just aren’t enough. Enter Pokemon Battle Revolution, yet another console Pokemon game which allows trainers to upload their monsters to the game and see them battle it out in full 3D. This time, it couldn’t be easier, as the wireless functions of the Wii and Nintendo DS come into play and allow you to copy all of your favourites from your game up to the Wii in a matter of seconds – no cords needed.
Whether Pokemon Battle Revolution is referring to the Wii’s codename or a revolutionary way of playing, I’m not sure, however the latter definitely isn’t true. 3D Pokemon battles have been around since Pokemon Stadium on the N64, and since then the only real changes have been the inclusion of double battles and the slow progression of the game’s visuals. Aside from that, the only thing PBR really adds to the formula is the inclusion of wireless battles and online play – everything else almost feels like a step backward.
Whereas Pokemon Stadium for the N64 had plenty of game modes to keep you busy, Pokemon Battle Revolution offers ten Colosseums for you to tackle. Everything else in the game is basically created with the Diamond/Pearl owner in mind, such as the mystery gift options, wireless DS play and online battling. If you don’t have a DS with Pokemon Diamond or , there’s pretty much no point to getting the game. Furthermore, the game punishes those who don’t own a DS by forcing them to use a set rental team within the colosseums. There’s no option to choose your monsters from a hefty list like there was in Pokemon Stadium, and it can be really annoying for those people who just want to jump in with their favourites by their side.
In terms of other features for those without a DS, Pokemon Battle Revolution is rather limited. You’ll be able to customize your trainer by buying them items with the points you earn from the Colosseum, however if you aren’t going to be playing any other people in the game, there’s really no point to this at all. Where’s the Gym Leader Castle from Pokemon Stadium gotten to? Where’s the Pokemon minigame corner? It can be really frustrating to see the lack of content on the game, especially when the original 3D Pokemon-battler had more to keep people amused all those years ago.
As for those who do own a copy of Pokemon Diamond, as well as access to WiFi with their Wii, there’s a few more things you can do to make the experience better. The game makes it extremely easy to get started with battling if you own a DS. After two minutes and a few screens telling you what to do, you’ll have all of your critters from the DS game cart copied straight over onto the Wii’s memory for use in the colosseum or on Wifi. It’s simple and extremely fast, and before long you’ll be taking on the game’s single player mode with your elite mob of creatures by your side. If you’ve got a friend over and want a battle, it’s even simpler. Get the six monsters you want to battle with on your DS in the correct order, then choose DS battle on the Wii. Although you’ll be seeing your monsters attack in full 3D on screen, you’ll be able to select attacks and strategize from the DS’s touch screen, so there’s no peeking for sneaky opponents.
In case your friend doesn’t have their own version of the game on hand, there’s always another battle mode which allows you to choose Pokemon from those which have already been uploaded to make custom teams to battle with. The only problem with this mode is that players will have their moves shown to their opponents, so hardcore fans will be able to predict strategies with a little more ease. That said, the mode is great for introducing siblings or friends to the game.
If you’re looking for online battles, Pokemon Battle Revolution is better than the DS games in some regards, but not so much in others. You’ll be able to battle friends using Nintendo’s friend code system, however there’s also an option to search for a random battle – a feature omitted from the DS versions for unknown reasons. Within a matter of minutes you’ll be playing against someone else online in full 3D, with all of your strongest monsters at your disposal. The problem is that you won’t be able to use the voice chat system, and the separate code means that you’ll only be playing owners of the Wii game and not the DS version, which can be a little disappointing.
Visually speaking, Pokemon Battle Revolution is one of the better looking games on the Wii. Each monster is rendered very smoothly and most of them look like a nice step up from the N64 and Gamecube Pokemon titles. Animations are all very good, particularly attacks. While most are simply given some better particle effects over the N64’s animations, physical attacks have been altered so that the Pokemon actually run up to their opponents before making the attack. Unfortunately a lot of the animations for the actual collisions (i.e. one monster biting or slashing another) are omitted, so it can sometimes appear a bit strange, although it’s impressive nonetheless.
The game also sports some fantastic looking stadiums to do battle on. Each of which is rendered very well and really adds to the overall feel as your monsters tackle each other in turn. A subtle blurring effect has been used on the backgrounds, which does make the field of play a little uglier but still allows the monsters to stand out.
As for sound, PBR still doesn’t really do anything revolutionary. All monsters still have their own sound effects from the gameboy versions to differentiate who they are (although I could never really tell a Goldeen from a Caterpie when blindfolded). Sound effects are generally good, although never too realistic sounding when dealing out damage, presumably because of the game’s wide audience. The game also sees the return of a commentator for matches, something which hasn’t been seen since the days of Pokemon Stadium, although this time players will recognize the narrator if they’ve ever watched an episode of the anime. While I believe he can sometimes make things a little more exciting with his over-enthusiastic one-liners, if you’re unlike me and can’t stand narrated battles then there’s always the option to turn him off. The soundtrack is quite catchy, and even though it may not be orchestrated the tunes still sound very smooth. That said, it would have been nicer to see a few familiar melodies from the handheld games, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to hear the nostalgic Red/Blue Gym Leader theme again.
Overall, Pokemon Battle Revolution is a very pretty game. In terms of three-dimensional monsters battling on a big screen, this is the best game yet for Pokemon fans. Owners of Pokemon Diamond and for the Nintendo DS will have a lot of fun battling their friends and being able to see their hard-trained Pokemon fire attacks across the screen with some stunning visual effects, a nice break from the sprite animations of the handheld games. But, while good looking, the main problem with Pokemon Battle Revolution is the lack of content within the game. The Colosseum isn’t enough to keep players going, and unless you own one of the DS Pokemon titles, then the game is really pointless. PBR is hurt even worse by the fact that you aren’t able to select rental teams like in Pokemon Stadium on the N64 – instead, it’s designed for DS owners who already have a built team. Pokemon Battle Revolution is great in terms of battling, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re looking for a full fleshed out Pokemon game, Pokemon Stadium was a whole lot more revolutionary than this.