I've been pretty sour on the console Pokemon battle games, because they've become nothing more than tedious turn-based combat porn. The N64 Stadium games at least had those cutesy minigame modes... a feature that vanished from the GameCube versions and still not found in the Wii generation. WTF? I thought the Wii was the cute minigame system? I've been lied to by the popular opinion press again!
Anyway, what really pissed me off was that Nintendo tried to hype the GameCube games as if they were genuine full-fledged RPG games. And then Pokemon Colosseum showed up packed with the suck. Walk here! Go fight! Walk here! Go fight! Walk here! Do nothing else! And I did not expect the Wii's Battle Revolution to be any better, based on the initial reports and demo movies.
I was spot-on, more or less, although Battle Rev does have some improvements. The best one being that I bought the game at Circuit City for only $40, during a sale that probably ends this Saturday. Walk there! Go buy!
The battles are beautiful... lush, detailed and vibrant... but not overly improved in execution. There's still crappy jump edits as the characters cut from animation to animation. I do not understand why a dead pokemon has to run back to its starting position before beginning the "I'm Dying" animation! Jesus! Just have the death bit start right after the "I'm Hit!" animation! Why is that so goddamn difficult?
Happily, I do seem to detect more pokemon-on-pokemon violence, something I declared would not happen. It's not the Street Fighter contact sport I'd like to see, but the game does allow a punch attack to actually visually show one pokemon hitting another one. Instead of just punching air and then quick cutting to a angled shot of the victim "reacting."
Interestingly, single-player mode has almost no HUD over the fight sequences. When you hit an opponent, the appropriate life meter briefly appears and then goes away.
The Trainer models are very clean, and you can customize your appearance with clothing you buy with money you earn after AI battles. (Why is there no Mii integration?) Although after going through three entire colosseum battles (consisting of six fights apiece), I only had around 1000 points. One new hat costs 300! And you can't even see what the hat looks like before you buy it!
I'm pretty excited about being able to buy rare items (so far, all my shop has is some TMs, stones, and a few cool hold items like Leftovers and King's Rock) on the Wii and send them to the DS game. They're super-expensive... in the 7000 to 9000 range. Battle Rev better start ponying up more than 300 points per colosseum damn soon. The manual says that when you send a bought item to Pearl/Diamond, you have to pick it up from a delivery man inside the Pokemart. Nice!
You can even type in your own text catchphrases for your Trainers to repeat during battles, but those do not show up in online play. (I learned that AFTER I changed them all to reference fourhman.com in some way.) Typing is done on the world's stupidest keyboard, a friggin' phone keypad. You know, where you hit the A button when you want A, B or C. Who the hell decided that was better than a regular QWERTY keyboard? I'm holding a Wii Remote here... I can navigate more than ten buttons at a time!
Getting your DS team into Battle Rev is super-sweet. I would have guessed that you were stuck with registering only your current six-member party, but the Wii instead slurps up your entire DS pokemon collection, boxes and all! Then you can organize them into different teams (even create different Trainer avatars) for the single-player colosseum fights.
It was sort of announced weeks ago, but yes, Battle Rev does bring its own Friend Code (mine is 4424 8521 7982). I don't think anybody has satisfactorily explained why Battle Rev can't see the Wii's internal Friend Code list. It's just Nintendo being bizarrely overcautious, acting as if kids need another layer of protection between the new Pokemon game and the people they have already Friended.
But - and I did not know this, probably because I stopped paying attention - you can initiate random online battles against complete strangers. No codes needed, just click, wait for a match, and play. Very nice. As there's no communication between you and your random potential-child-molester online opponent, it is entirely "safe." Since I have no Friends, I haven't tried an online Friend match, nor have I tried an in-home DS-DS match.
All in all, I'm glad I saved $10 on it. Remember, Nintendo almost never drops the price on big name games, so any deal out of the gate like that is a golden opportunity.
Here's a tale of a cool recent Wi-Fi battle. I chose Empoleon, Toxicroak, Gengar and my beloved Infernape, Clutch. Invisible internet friend "Pat" had Staraptor, Lucario, Luxray and Empoleon. This was a double battle (all set to level 50); Pat started with Staraptor and Lucario.
I fielded Empoleon and Toxicroak because they're a cool combo. Empoleon's Surf attack hits everybody on the field (except himself), but Toxicroak's Dry Skin ability protects him from Surf. So my Empoleon gets to use a cool move against both of my opponent's pokemon without risking collateral damage to the Toxicroak. Unfortunately my Empoleon's Quick Claw did not activate, so Pat's Staraptor flew in for the first attack with a one-hit-KO on my Empoleon. I didn't get to do my cool combo trick. Weak!
I brought in Gengar and used Confuse Ray on the Lucario. This bought me enough space to have Toxicroak kill the Staraptor, as Lucario's confusion kept making him miss attacks. Pat replaced the Staraptor with his Luxray.
Luxray started smacking around Gengar and outright killed my Toxicroak, so I had to bring in my last guy, Clutch the Infernape. Clutch finished off Lucario. Pat brought in his Empoleon, which was his last fighter.
Luxray then took care of Gengar, but not before Gengar managed to get a Confuse Ray attack in on the enemy Empoleon. This would prove to be the critical point that swung the battle in my favor, because I've been on the ropes so far.
Clutch polished off Luxray, leaving a very uneven standoff. Clutch the Infernape - a fire type - standing alone against an Empoleon - a water type. See the problem there?
Unbelievably, the confusion kept the Empoleon from making a single attack, allowing Clutch to amble in with a Close Combat attack to knock out the Empoleon.
I felt pretty slick after that.