Battling as usual

Pokémon Battle Revolution is hardly revolutionary
By MADDY MYERS  |  July 17, 2007
1.5 1.5 Stars

NEW VIRTUAL CLOTHES?: Hey, your character’s gotta look good on the Internet.

After you boot up, the receptionist at Pokétopia tells you that Pokémon: Battle Revolution’s Pokémon battle park has plenty of features. These all involve battling (putting the “battle revolution” in, uh, “Battle Revolution”), and though the battles are the best part of every Pokémon RPG, fighting without pause can lead to wavering enthusiasm. The one thing Pokémon: Battle Revolution doesn’t have is the one thing you want: an RPG mode.

If you don’t already own a Nintendo DS and a copy of Pokémon: Diamond or Pearl, Pokétopia will give you a rental roster of six Pokémon. (See whether you can guess which six they give you. I’ll give you a hint: one of them is a pigeon.) Your not-so-magnificent six are neither unusual nor strong, and with no opportunity to level them up, you don’t stand a chance fighting on-line. Here’s hoping you have a DS with a slew of high-level rare races. (Transferring Pokémon wirelessly to the Wii is extremely simple.)

The single-player mode offers a seemingly endless stream of coliseums, at which your character battles other Pokémon trainers (usually eight per coliseum). Your six Pokémon all begin with full hit points every time you face a new opponent, and that limits the tactical aspects of each battle to its final moments. Despite the repetitive nature of constant turn-based battling, your challengers’ strange outfits (many are dressed as Pokémon) and bizarre battle cries (“I just like to be normal and fit in . . . except in battle!”) ensure some sustained amusement.

You can use the points you win to buy items at the shop — anything from Pikachu merch to new hairstyles, glasses, and clothes — but the gear isn’t for the Pokémon, it’s for your character. Or you can save up your points to buy a Mystery Gift to be used on your Nintendo DS in Pokémon: Diamond or Pearl. A Mystery Gift costs several thousand points, however, and you earn only 200 to 400 points per coliseum. Familiarity with your Pokémon breeds success (by way of “perfect” battles in which none of your Pokémon faints and you score maximum points), but it also breeds boredom. Once you’ve purchased new virtual clothes, it’s time to bring your Pokémon to the Internet, the biggest coliseum of all. That is, if you aren’t already sick of battling, more battling, and then still more battling — because on-line fighting isn’t that different from fighting the trainers in the coliseums.

If you don’t mind forcing Pokémon to fight to exhaustion so you can get some new clothes, or the inconvenience of having to use your Nintendo DS in order to accomplish anything, or the dawdling nature of turn-based battles, then you might enjoy Battle Revolution. There’s nothing quite like seeing your hard-won Pokémon from the DS games battle on the big screen in beautifully rendered sequence. But the charm fades unless you can invite all your friends over (with their DSes and Pokémon) to see who’s the best trainer in the “DS Battle Mode.” If you win, splurge on a gaudy Pikachu hat. You deserve it!

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