Review by GCNZ

Reviewed: 01/15/08

Shiny graphics without the shiny gameplay

If there’s one game that doesn’t need an introduction, it’s Pokemon. Ever since 1996, when the very first Pokemon games were released, these pocket-sized monsters have been invading our Game Boys, our televisions, our toy barrels, our display shelves, our card games, our birthday parties........ our lives.

As was expected, the release of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl for the DS was met with monumental success; the handheld RPGs have always been consistently rewarding despite having only minor upgrades between each instalment. Conversely, the home console iterations, which more or less focus on the battling aspect of Pokemon, have always been consistently poor in execution. Pokemon XD for the GameCube seemed to be heading down the right path, though, with borrowed RPG elements from the portable games, but Pokemon Battle Revolution has ditched all that jazz and reverted back to the tournament battles and more tournament battles of old. God knows why.

To make a long story short: if you enjoyed the N64 Pokemon Stadium games and Colosseum for the GameCube, chances are that you’ll like Battle Revolution for the Wii (assuming you’re still “young” at heart). The visuals have been beefed up to current-gen quality and for the first time ever you will see every thunder punch and headbutt connect with a deafening thud – and when I say “sparks will fly”, I’ve never meant it more than I do now. All 493 Pokemon are accounted for, too, and for any Pokefan it’s a dream come true to see them all realised in such graphical splendour.

But clearly, we don’t play Pokemon for the fancy graphics if sales figures for the graphically inferior handheld titles are any indication.

I like how everything is super sharp and super shiny, and the animations for each individual move can look pretty gorgeous at times. The announcer can be a bit jarring, but seeing as you can turn off the commentary I would have to say that the audio quality is fine as it is, although the soundtrack (limited to battle themes) is markedly inferior to the handheld Pokemons. The worst thing about Battle Revolution, though, is how long it takes for moves to be performed. It seems the developers got carried away with the animations, which are generally well done, but way too lengthy. As a result, battles drag on for long periods of time which, depending on what kind of person you are, may or may not be a good thing – I tend towards the latter.

What is really remarkable about Battle Revolution is the ability to take the battle online via Wi-Fi. We’re a bit late in joining our worldwide cousins, but it’s still a highly competitive arena so long as you have been keeping up with your training on the DS – yes, you can also connect wirelessly to your DS to transfer Pokemon between systems, to and fro! Caution is advised if you’re not using friend codes, though: there are plenty of cheap hardcore players out there who will pulverise you with teams of “Uber” Pokemon if you’re not careful. Lag can also be a problem if you’re battling with someone on the other side of the world, but it really depends on your internet connection speed – ours was just fine.

What really gets to me, though, is how the Pokemon in your Wii (whether pre-made or your own personal ones) are untouchable: they are stuck with the same 4 moves in their arsenal that they start out with and they don’t level up, hence no statistical improvement whatsoever. In contrast, your trainer avatar can be augmented in a number of ways with an extensive wardrobe of clothes and accessories, but does anyone really care? At least you do earn some goodies like rare moves and new Pokemon which can be transferred to your DS Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, but then one has to ask: where does all the fun lie?

Battle Revolution is essentially a technical demonstration of your pixelated Pokemon. There are a handful of tournament challenges to participate in, all of which will be a breeze for Pokemon veterans, and the myriad of collectibles are an incentive to keep playing – but since when did we need something extraneous to make us want to play a Pokemon game? Nonetheless, kids - and by that I mean patient kids who are hardcore Pokemon fans - will love what Battle Revolution has to offer. Pokemon has never looked this good and if you are able to take advantage of the (admittedly limited) Wi-Fi multiplayer, then all the more power to you. Otherwise keep on going with your precious DS jewels – where the gameplay shines more than the graphics.

- Best Pokemon graphics, ever

- Slow turn-based gameplay
- Often laggy online
- Purely a Pokemon battle-fest
- Tournament selection not as large as previous versions


Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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

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