Review by Kowbrainz

Reviewed: 12/25/07

Lack of lasting gameplay hurts the namesake

Whereas some people may prefer handheld monster battling because of its portability among other things, for others the sprited 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.

Pokemon battles, minus the revolution
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 Colloseums 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 Pearl, 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 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 was able to keep people amused all those years ago.

For everyone else…
As for everyone who does own a copy of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl and has access to wifi on their Wii, the experience is a lot better. However, that said, it isn’t going to keep you playing as much as Pokemon Stadium did because of the lack of extra modes.

Pokemon Battle Revolution is extremely easy to get started with 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 gamecart 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 no peeking for sneaky opponents.

In case your friend doesn’t bring his or her DS, there’s always another battle mode which allows you to choose Pokemon from those uploaded to make custom passes to battle with. The only problem with this mode is that purists will have their moves shown to their opponents, so hardcore players 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 shines out from the DS games. 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 only real gripe I have is with the game’s removal of the voice chat system available to DS users; however that said the online play is still a very strong experience and well worth having a shot.

Pretty Pokemon
Pokemon Battle Revolution is visually one of the best 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, especially attacks. Whilst special attack animations like thunderbolts and icebeams are nothing new, Pokemon Battle Revolution gives physical attacks brand new animations involving the Pokemon. For example, if your monster uses bite against an opponent, instead of simply showing an impressive set of jaws as an animation, your monster will run up towards the opponent before unleashing its attack. It’s a nice improvement from previous titles, where Pokemon would stand in the same place for the battle and simply wait for hell to rain down upon them from their opponents.

Pokemon Battle Revolution 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, however instead of making the visuals uglier, it works nicely with the character models and makes them stand out on the field of play.

As for sound, Pokemon Battle Revolution definitely doesn’t disappoint. All monsters 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 great, especially the cool effects you’ll hear when you dish out a full hit to an unfortunate opponent.

The game also sees the return of a commentator for matches, something which hasn’t been seen since the days of Pokemon Stadium. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of watching a Pokemon anime episode, then you’ll recognize him as the narrator. That said, personally I think that he adds a lot to matches and makes things a little more exciting with his over-enthusiastic one-liners. If you’re unlike me and can’t stand narrated battles, then there is an option to turn him off, but I don’t see why he’d be that annoying to do so.

In terms of music, Revolution is excellent. There are some very catchy tracks which will play as you duel enemies on the various stadiums. Although they might not be orchestrated, they still sound very nice. The only real problem is the lack of music coverage from other Pokemon games. I would have loved to have heard some classic tracks from the gameboy titles being played – especially the gym leader music from the original Pokemon games. It’s unfortunate that the soundtrack had to be new here – the inclusion of nostalgic tracks of old would have felt so much better.

Final Comments
Pokemon Battle Revolution is an extremely 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 Pearl 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.

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.

Presentation: 8
Visuals: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Replay Value: 7
Overall (not an average): 7

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Pokemon Battle Revolution (AU, 11/22/07)

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