Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pokemon Battle Revolution review

So then, I've spent almost 10 hours with this game so far, and I think that's plenty long enough to base a review off of. That being said, on with the review!

Developer: Genius Sonority
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 25th, 2007
ESRB Rating: E (For Everyone)
Online battling, customizable characters, all 493 Pokemon, DS connectivity

I'm a huge Pokemon fan, and I have been ever since the first games hit the shelves in 1998. So it pretty much goes without saying that I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that Pokemon would be hitting the Wii. So, did it live up to my expectations? Read on to find out.

First of all, I must say that Pokemon has never looked better. Each and every creature, object and backdrop is rendered beautifully, and the impressive lighting makes it all look that much better. If they made the Pokemon any more realistic, they wouldn't look like Pokemon anymore. They really truck the perfect balance between realism and the art style.

Were the visuals falter, however, is when the Pokemon fight. I know I said in the impressions that if a Chimchar used Scratch, it would run right up to it's target and scratch it. Well, further playing proved that this isn't always the case. Take my Dialga's Dragon Claw, for example. When he swipes, he's still standing well far away from his target. Seriously, folks, Pokemon has been in 3D for about 8 years now, shouldn't combatants at least make physical contact with eachother by now? Also, when a Pokemon attacks, it stands in front of it's target for a while. Then, when the camera angle changes, it's magically back in it's corner. I'm pretty sure that Golbat doesn't know Teleport.

Speaking of attacks, certain moves have effects on the screen. For example, if you use Surf, water will drip from down the screen, as if on a camera lens. Also, if there's a hail storm, the edges of the screen will become frosted. One problem with weather effects, though, is the fact that they're only visible in between turns. If there's a sandstorm ripping through the stadium, it is completely invisible while the Pokemon are attacking.

Also, many of the Pokemon from previous generations seem to be recycled sprites from Pokemon Stadium, Colosseum and XD. Gloom does the exact same spinning jump we've been seeing for the last 8 years, just with a better rendered sprite. And is it too much to ask for the Pokemon to look a little tired when their health is low?

Finally, the trainers' movements can be very clunky at times. One second, their arm will be outstretched, holding a Pokeball. The camera angle changes, and they're magically already reeling back to toss another Pokemon into the ring. This is minor, yes, but it still detracts from the game's polish.

As for sound, every stadium has it's own distinct background music. Also, the announcer has quite a few different phrases programmed in. However, you'll still manage to hear all of them within a couple of hours. One other minor problem with the announcer is sometimes it's very obvious to tell where different sound bytes were spliced together. For example, say you're sending out a Cresselia. The announcer would say "Cresselia" in a completely different tone from "was sent out". But, if it really gets on your nerves, you can always turn off commentary in the options menu.

Another low-point in the sound department is the fact we're still hearing the same old Pokemon cries from 1998. Cries which were originally recorded for the Game Boy Color, so you can imagine how ill-fitting they sound on a TV's speakers.

The presentation is top-notch. Instead of a bland menu screen in between battles, there is instead an attendant there to help you out. When beginning the game for the first time, she'll help you understand the many different options and selections to be made in the main menu. A very unique system that works incredibly well.

The controls are also incredibly streamlined, largely thanks to the simplicity of the Wii remote. Point, click, done. Too tired to hold your arm up? The D-pad also works well for navigation. You could lie down, curl you arms up underneath yourself, and still play! Oh, and don't worry, they didn't shoehorn in any waggle.

Well then, by now you're probably thinking "Come on, get to the online part!". Well, settle down, spaz, because I'm just about to do so. Anywho, Pokemon Battle Revolution is the first Wii game in North America to utilize the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (Elebits only used WiiConnect24, so it doesn't count). What kind of a first impression does it make?

Finding matches is easy enough, especially due to the complete lack of a need for Friend Codes! One more: NO FRIEND CODES. Got it? Good. Starting a random match is as easy as clicking a few buttons and waiting. If someone else is lookin' to start a fight, you're matched up, and the battle begins. Simple as that.

One problem is sometimes your opponents won't have a very strong internet connection. This can lead to a lot of lag when selecting attacks or switching Pokemon. I've had to wait as long as 20 seconds between clicking the "Fight" button to actually being able to select an attack.

But, this is not always the case. If you can find an opponent with a good internet connection, there's virtually no waiting at all.

A big thing missing here is a way to track your wins and losses. There is no chart or anything within the game that tells you how many victories you have claimed online. All it keeps track of is how many rounds you've gone on the Wi-Fi Connection, and that's it.

And local multiplayer is very impressive, too, especially if you and your opponent both have a DS and a copy of either Pokemon Diamond or Pearl. If this is the case, you and your friend can sync up your handhelds with the Wii and use them as controllers. This isn't necessary (You can battle with just one Wii remote altogether), but it is helpful for one very big thing: Keeping your moves a secret from your opponent. When you battle with just a Wii remote, all your selections are displayed on the TV screen for all to see. However, when using a DS as a controller, all your moves are kept a secret. Neato!

How long will this game last you? Well, as I've said, I've been playing for almost 10 hours, and, well... I'm done already. It's quite the short game. But, I'm not 100% complete yet. I still have to beat each stadium again with even harder rules and even smarter AI. Also, the online aspect adds tonnes to the replay value.


Graphics: 7.8/10

The Pokemon, arenas and trainers are all rendered beautifully, and the lighting is near perfection. However, actions can be a little clunky at times.

Sound: 7.0/10

Every stadium has it's own unique music style, and the announcer has a decent set of phrases programmed. However, where the announcer's speech has been spliced is sometimes obvious, and the Pokemon still sound like they're on the Game Boy Color.

Presentation: 9.5/10

The menu screens are very well thought out, and the secretary is a great touch. The only thing holding this back from a 10/10 is it's all fairly standard beyond that.

Controls: 10/10

It's a simple as point and click. Also, the fact that you don't even have to use the pointer is really great. If you don't feel like holding your arm up, just use the D-pad!

Online: 8.0/10

Battling your Pokemon online has never been easier! Click a few buttons, wait a few seconds, and you're in business! However, frequent lag and a total lack of a leaderboard really hurts.

Local Multiplayer: 10/10

The local multiplayer is masterfully done, and it's even better if you and your opponent have a DS and a copy of Pokemon Diamond or Pearl each.

Length: 6.5/10

Completing the main part of the game can be done in a matter of hours, but online and bonus conditions help keep this game going for quite a while.

Overall: 8.0/10

Pokemon Battle Revolution is a wonderful extension to the DS Pokemon games. That being said, there isn't much here for those of you who don't have Diamond or Pearl. The "rental" Pokemon are really crappy, and many of the game's features are unavailable to people without 4th generation Pokemon games. If you have Diamond or Pearl, buy this. If not, spend your money elsewhere.

So then, that's how I feel about Pokemon Battle Revolution. What are your thoughts? Have you played this game yet? If so, what do you think?

The Duck Has Spoken.


EternalGameNation said...

I knew the game couldn't be as bad as IGN Wii channel said, I haven't played it yet, but I'm gonna trust your review over theirs. Nice blog you got here btw, didn't know you had one until RMC started linking to it, but I knew who you were from the comments on GoNintendo.

Gabriel said...

Nice review!

SteveDaWonder said...

It just doesn't warrant fifty bucks in my mind. It seems the same as Pokemon Stadium for the 64, only prettier.

That was two gen's ago. I want something better.

Anonymous said...

crap review

Anonymous said...

I actually think you went a little too easy on the game. You told all of the bad about the pokemon cries and almost gave it a 10. being a little harsh is ok to do you know. its not like the kids are going to bust thier computers over it. and I AM a Pokemon fan so don't be all like "PiKaChU KiLlEr!!!11" on me ok?

Nick said...

i agree --- the pokemon sound effects suck big time.

now that you have spent even more time with the game, do you still think the game is as good as you said?

PsychoDuck said...

Not sure, Nick, as I haven't really played it much lately! I've been really freaking busy, man! I still only have a few hours logged in Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, and I've had it since the fifth! With me, I usually have over ten by now!

But would I change it? Hmm... Maybe, I dunno. I think I'll save the answer for a possible "review revisit" sometime in the future *Hint hint*

The Duck Has Spoken.

micster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PsychoDuck said...

Whoa whoa whoa, Micster! I assure you, I had nothing to do with what happened there! I'm sure it was just a fan of mine getting a little out of control, and nothing more, I swear!

I apologize greatly for his/her actions. Sorry.

The Duck Has Spoken.

micster said...

Like I said in the email, I am deathly sorry for my actions and ive got rid of that comment