The Wii’s first foray into online play will be amazingly repetitive and dull to anyone who doesn’t already have a big collection of the cuddly but dangerous “Pokemon” creatures. But for the millions of fans of this ultra-popular franchise, “Pokemon Battle Revolution” is a bold step forward that makes moving characters from the DS to the Wii and then finding opponents to combat easy and fun.
Whereas the object of previous Pokemon games was the hunt — “gotta catch ’em all,” as the slogan says — “Battle Revolution” offers a variety of ways to pit Pokemon against Pokemon. The game excels at that mission, but doesn’t offer much beyond it.
Simplicity has always been a hallmark of Nintendo’s products, so it’s no surprise that wirelessly downloading all of the characters collected while playing “Pokemon Diamond” or “Pokemon Pearl” on the DS to the Wii is a piece of cake. That also demonstrates how narrow “Battle Revolution’s” appeal is, however: Those who haven’t played “Pearl” or “Diamond” for dozens of hours won’t really enjoy it.
“Battle Revolution’s” graphics are bright and colorful, and the console’s motion-sensing “Wii-mote” controller is intuitive for giving marching orders to fighting Pokemon. The DS units can also be used as controllers for battle. With two or more DS devices, each with it’s own saved version of “Diamond” or “Pearl,” gamers can link together and use the Wii as the host arena for fights between the Pokemon they have saved.
There’s a simple one-player mode in which players must do battle in 10 different coliseums to become the master of “Poketopia.”
But the game’s real appeal is that it’s the first to take advantage of the Wii’s built-in Wi-Fi connection to let players compete online. If you’re just looking for an anonymous Pokemon trainer to fight, the Wii’s setup is the easiest of all the next-generation systems. The menus require very little thought — players simply set the kind of match they want and the system finds a partner. If players want to play against someone they know, however, it’s more complicated: Gamers have to swap numerical “friend codes” offline and then enter them on the Wii.