Pokémon Battle Revolution was first announced back in June of 2006, and it sounded as though it was going to be the ideal console Pokémon game: destructible environments, Wii-DS connectivity, online battling – everything we wanted from the franchise. Satoru Iwata lived up to his promise of releasing the game in the Japanese launch window, but it seems to be the only promise that he kept.
When Pokémon Battle Revolution hit the shelves, there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Imagine then how despondent we became upon the realisation that it was nothing like what was promised: the destructible environments were absent from the final game, online battling didn’t work most of the time, and the Wii-DS connectivity was not what we had imagined. From the offset, this title’s base was weakened, yet we still hoped there was a spark of magic somewhere – after all, it could still be a great game!
Unlike its recent predecessors, Battle Revolution isn’t a console adventure linked into the portable gaming experience, but more of a gateway to see your Pokémon battle in 3D. Anyone expecting something like the Nintendo Gamecube titles will be sadly disappointed to hear that the game lacks any significant form of adventure mode, and instead offers more of a Pokémon Stadium-like experience. The game focuses on the battle aspect of the franchises: delivering the ability to transfer Pokémon from your Nintendo DS adventures to the big screen, battle friends or random players online via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, or host a local battle royale with up to four DS players.
Granted, that doesn’t sound all that bad, but Pokémon Battle Revolution really isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. If you don’t own Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum for the Nintendo DS, your experience with the game will be rather forgettable, as you’ll have to work with pre-made profiles created specifically for the game. To be honest it’s rather awkward working with these squads because you have no control whatsoever on the moves and stats of each Pokémon – hardly an enjoyable experience. So it goes without saying that you should own one of the DS’ outings before you even think of purchasing this game.
With that issue aside, Pokémon Battle Revolution is still far from perfect: for one, the single player campaign isn’t terribly exciting. In a nutshell, all you ever do is battle trainer after trainer until, eventually, you make it to the leader of the coliseum and – no surprises here – battle them. The purpose of doing all of this is to gain accessories that can be used to customize your character – not too much to get enthusiastic about. For Pokémon freaks that simply love to battle, Pokémon Battle Revolution will prove to be ideal, but for everyone else who loves the exploration part of the franchise, they’ll ultimately be disappointed.
Probably the most eagerly anticipated feature of the game was its online mode, which simply turned out to be a stripped-down, basic version of the singly player 'experience'. While the prospect of players battling head to head with random opponents around the world, or teaming up with friends for a more friendly battle, was a fantastic idea, it just didn’t work. There's no list of waiting players or even an amount of fighters per stadium in the worldwide mode, so meeting up with an opponent can be a difficult task; there are times when matches can take only a matter of seconds, yet there are also five-minute waits with no indication as to the chances of someone joining.
Needless to say, Pokémon Battle Revolution has very little going for it when it comes to gameplay. Essentially what you’re getting is a bare-bones version of Pokémon Stadium on Wii. Besides the new Pokémon, battle animations, and graphics, there is little new to this title; everything has already been done before – considerably better too!
However, there is one aspect of the game that offers slight redemption for all its shortcomings: the graphics. In case you haven’t already noticed, Pokémon Battle Revolution is one of the most visually impressive titles on Wii – even in motion, it holds up well. Character animations are very fluent and there are plenty of strong visual effects. Unfortunately this is about the only thing that is good about the game.
As it stands, Pokémon Battle Revolution feels more like a stripped-down version of Pokémon Stadium (released almost a decade ago). The gameplay feels very repetitive, and the dependence the game has upon its Nintendo DS siblings makes it unsuitable for those without the handheld games. Though the incorporation of online play was a welcome feature, it needs to work with a bit more thought and consistency for it to become truly enjoyable.
All in all, Pokémon Battle Revolution is one game you’re probably going to want to avoid; even massive Pokémon fans should approach this with trepidation.