Nintendo
Pokemon attacks looks cool in the Wii game — it's just too bad the Pokemon themselves never really tussle.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 7/27/2007 9:53:36 PM ET 2007-07-28T01:53:36

Nintendo must think Pokémon fans will buy anything — that's the only explanation for the lackluster effort put forth in "Pokémon Battle Revolution," the very first Pokémon game for the Nintendo Wii.

Coming on the heels of "Pokémon Diamond" and "Pearl" for the Nintendo DS  doesn't help "Battle Revolution's" weak cause. Those superlative adventure games were so feature-rich that this Wii game is almost pointless by comparison. Sure, "Pokémon Battle Revolution" allows you to battle online with friends  — this is the first online multiplayer game for Wii — but so did the DS duo.

So what does $50 buy you? A few hours of frustratingly dull Pokémon battles that just happen to play out in some pretty attractive 3D graphics. Big deal.

To be fair, "Pokémon Battle Revolution" does look good at first blush. The 3D Pokémon models are colorful and nicely detailed. Some of the Pokémon attacks also employ nice effects that simply cannot be seen in the Nintendo DS games.

But "Pokémon Battle Revolution" doesn't aspire to be anything more than a 3D battle simulator — these are the exact same fights you've played a zillion times since the original Game Boy titles. After nine years, these Pokémon still never truly mix it up in battle. Even with the horsepower of the Wii goading them on, the Pokémon models rarely even touch each other, much less have special battle animations that might reveal what a true Pokémon dust-up looks like.

Once you're no longer wowed by the flashy visuals, the value of "Pokémon Battle Revolution" drops faster than a Chimchar squaring off against an Empoleon. (Ask your kids.) Hopefully, you already have "Pokémon Diamond" or "Pearl" on the Nintendo DS and can import your hard-earned monsters, because "Pokémon Battle Revolution" practically punishes you if you don't. You are force fed a beginner's set of six Pokémon and must play through a series of tournaments to unlock additional passes worth six more Pokémon apiece. Want to play against a friend? Then you better bite down and earn that second pass, because the game doesn't even offer a courtesy pass for another player.

What's so particularly galling about "Pokémon Battle Revolution" is that's not even remotely as full-featured as the original "Pokémon Stadium" games on the old Nintendo 64 — and those were released in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Sure, there was no online multiplayer back then, but at least the "Stadium" games let you play with all of the available Pokémon without forcing you to sync up the portable games. From the get-go, you could play with "rental" versions of all Pokémon available (up to 251 in "Pokemon Stadium 2"). And there was no horrible single-player game that twisted your arm behind your back and made you earn Pokémon you may or may not like.

The "Stadium" games also included a series of mini-games for just goofing off and the ability to play the old Game Boy games on your television. "Pokémon Battle Revolution" manages neither. The only really "goodie" in Pokémon battle Revolution is the ability to earn credits and dress up your in-game Pokémon trainer. If you do have a Nintendo DS, you can use those credits to buy mystery gifts and forward them to your trainer in "Pokémon Diamond" or "Pearl."

"Pokémon Battle Revolution" does indeed go online, allowing you to battle against other Pokémon trainers across the nation. There are random battles, but you cannot communicate during the game. Should you want to seek out a specific player, it is quite easy to set up a match once you have exchanged Friend Codes specific to "Pokémon Battle Revolution." Nintendo's online service does not encourage random online encounters; you must contact your friends in the real world and register each other on your Wiis. This might sound cumbersome, but any parent that's heard an earful of the wretched filth spewed over headsets on Xbox Live will be grateful for Nintendo's efforts here.

However, you could go online and battle with other Pokémon trainers in "Diamond" and "Pearl" on the DS just as easily, and while there are no 3D battles, you certainly get a lot more game for a lot less money. (The DS games retail for approximately $35 each.)

The DS titles also offer an enormous single-player adventure and a robust cataloging tool for sorting your Pokémon, both of which shame the experience of "Pokémon Battle Revolution." Even after playing against a friend via "Battle Revolution," there are no statistics or online leaderboards to proclaim your dominance to the world.

If you are any sort of Pokémon fan, you've already invested in "Diamond" or "Pearl" for the Nintendo DS and have likely earned yourself some rare, powerful monsters. The idea of seeing those Pokémon in full 3D might be tempting, but resist and send a message to Nintendo. Just because you are a fan, you will not accept an expensive watered-down experience that lacks essential features — features Nintendo saw fit to include in seven-year-old games.

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