Pokémon Battle Revolution
As dusk falls over the city of Poketopia, the streets are abuzz with activity. People of all ages wander through the brightly lit streets, gazing at the all the flashing neon lights, massive balloon floats, and plenty of other distractions. Children are happily guzzling down soda and cotton candy, dragging their parents from one store window to the next. Clean-cut street vendors are wandering around with just about every souvenir possible, be it an “I Pokemon.
Kind of creepy, isn’t it? An entire city devoted to the capturing of wild monsters and training them into the ultimate fighting machines. Despite the glitz and glamour, that’s all that Poketopia really offers you: a chance to grab some Pokemon and duke it out with every man, woman, and child willing to challenge you. If you’ve never played a Pokemon game, don’t worry; all you really need to know is that you get a team of six monsters (pre-chosen depending on which character avatar you choose) and need to use their elementally-based powers to beat others into submission. Veterans of the last two Gamecube Pokemon games may be in for a bittersweet surprise when they start playing this game; while Pokemon Battle Revolution gets rid of a few gimmicky plot points, it also has no story mode whatsoever. Instead of spending countless hours tracking down and training the hundreds of Pokemon in existence, you’ll only be able to participate in the game’s assortment of tournaments to become the local champion.
That’s right. No countrywide exploration or 40 hour-long quests. Leveling and developing intricate movesets for each monster need not apply. Just plain, straightforward combat with an opponent in a bunch of battles. You’ll have little say as to how your Pokemon will perform in battle; you’ll be forced to use the half-assed attacks that have already been selected. While previous titles thrived on creating strategies and balanced teams, all you’ll really have to worry about is how effective your monsters’ attacks will be against the opponents. Unless you’re completely new to Pokemon, chances are that you’ll have little trouble advancing in the game’s multiple competitions. Considering that half the fun (and just about all of the longevity) of the Pokemon handheld games is based solely on the development of your monster team, Battle Revolution’s combat-centric gameplay is disappointing at best.
If you don’t own Pokemon Diamond or Pearl, that is. Like all of its other console predecessors, this game allows you to connect to your handheld game and import your hard-earned Pokemon into the tournament. While the last few titles required extras like connector cables, in-game tasks, and other gimmicks, Battle Revolution allows you to upload and organize your teams wirelessly at the start. Considering the pathetic default lineups for each character, this easy connectivity is a blessing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t save the game from its utterly boring gameplay. Since there are little modification options to help augment your team, you’ll be left to watch your Pokemon trade flashy attacks at an aggravatingly slow pace. The online multiplayer is even worse; you’re only allowed to battle other gamers (friends or random opponents) in some horribly laggy matches. Considering the wide variety of online features in the DS games, Battle Revolution’s multiplayer reeks of wasted potential.
The game tries to distract you from such glaring shortcomings by giving you a decent variety of challenges for each tournament. Some opponents will mix and match their teams with your own, forcing you to focus more on strategizing and using your Pokemon’s abilities to the fullest extent. Others will force you to carefully create a balanced team from a random selection of monsters. Some even take a page from the Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games, pitting you against two foes at once. While these battles feature the tried and true turned-based gameplay mechanics from the older games, you’ll find that few of your opponents have well-crafted teams. Veterans of older Pokemon games will have little trouble decimating any given foe, newer fans only have to be concerned with figuring out which attacks are the most useful. Rinse and repeat for about eight hours, and you’ll have gone through the game’s basic batch of tournament challenges.
The only incentive to endure another helping of this mindless drudgery is the wide assortment of unlockables. You’ll be granted some bonus points after each match that can be redeemed for different items. You’ll be able to buy rare moves, berries, stones, and bonus Pokemon that can be exported back into your DS game. The majority of your cash, however, will likely be spent on your avatar. The game boasts an extensive (and expensive) wardrobe selection for each character. You’ll get to dress up your trainers in Pokemon-themed hats, bags, and other accessories. Some of the kids can be decked out in stylish coats and berets, while older ones will be reduced to slightly disproportionate eye candy in a mix of curve-hugging pants and skimpy shirts. Needless to say, these aren’t the little pixilated trainers from the old days.
While the trainers come with a wide variety of customizations and anime-esque looks, it’s the Pokemon that steal the show. All 493 species of monsters are present and accounted for, right down to Pikachu’s electrified yellow hide. You’ll get to see the monsters move smoothly, the way the fire Pokemon cast a blazing glow across the battlefield, and how the some of the birds ceaselessly twitch their necks like their real-life counterparts. Unlike in previous games that offered watered-down images of the combat, you can actually see the Pokemon making contact with each other. Dozens of attacks from the handheld games have been recreated with some impressive effects. You can see the rainbow left in the wake of a water attack, flames flickering through the air, and condensation building up on the screen. The different arenas are a spectacle in their own right; the sunset-laden beaches, strobe-lit balconies, and glittering underground mines offer plenty of opportunities to showcase the Wii’s lighting and graphical rendering capabilities. While there are a few issues (an idiotic and thankfully optional announcer most prevalent) that need to be smoothed over, it’s easily the best-looking console Pokemon game to date.
Unfortunately, stellar graphics can’t save Pokemon Battle Revolution from utter mediocrity. The game has no story mode whatsoever, forcing you to participate in battle after monotonous battle until you’ve won a tournament. Since the default Pokemon can’t learn any new moves and develop their stats, you’ll never get the chance to enjoy the deeper levels of strategy that previous games employed. The only way you’ll ever get the most out of this title is if you’ve already beaten Pokemon Diamond or Pearl and can upload your teams accordingly. Sadly, the simplistic combat modes, lacking challenge, and mind-numbingly slow pacing make even the online multiplayer tedious at best. The only truly great thing about this game is the graphical quality, but that won’t matter much when you’re bored out of your mind. Unless you’re a rabid Pokemon fanatic, enjoy your DS games. You’ll get more out of them than what this half-assed title can offer.