Upon hearing the word “Nintendo,” people instantly think of Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Pokémon. Though each of these franchises have proven successful, the latter of which has broken out of the cult fame status and into the mainstream spotlight. Designed as a last ditch resort to revitalize the original Game Boy back in 1993, Pokémon Red and Blue started as clever experiments and resulted in a marketing monster. With a Pokémon game (or two) on nearly every one of their consoles, Nintendo is ready to release their newest title touting improved graphics, support for the newest Pokémon games (Diamond and Pearl for the DS), and the premier title for the Wii’s online service.
My Pokémon is bigger than your Pokémon
Fret not loyal fans, for Nintendo has what appears to be a flawless game plan, which will implement all the elements of Diamond and Pearl without sacrificing the classic fun factor that made Pokémon Stadium so memorable. The most obvious of which is enhanced graphics. You can catch, you can battle, and you can train on the DS; however, looking at pixilated sprites is only as interesting as your imagination can handle. Imagination aside, Nintendo has created 480p caliber models of your favorite Pokémon for your viewing pleasure. From Bulbasaur to Palkia, each Pokémon is fully rendered, though sadly the pre-Diamond and Pearl Pokémon recycle their models from Pokémon Coliseum. Depending on your expectations, this recycle could be seen as good or not quite so good.
Graphics are nice and all, but what do we really want? We want to beat some Pokémon up with other Pokémon, that’s what we want! This is essentially what Pokémon Battle Revolution does; it’s a glorified three dimensional battle simulator, like a next gen Pokémon Stadium. Again, like the graphics, this could be seen in two ways. However, what Revolution does differently is emphasize the social element of the Pokémon universe. Back in the day (in a contemporary fashion) gathering the essential equipment for a decent Stadium game would cost you nearly $300; including games, transfer packs, and controllers. On top of that, you needed friends! What madness! Nintendo feels for the financially restricted, so in response they have finally decided to implement an online portion to both the Wii and Pokémon. There are the standard multiplayer matches, where friends can upload their Pokémon using their DS systems (which are also used as a control input) or use the classic “rental” Pokémon (preconfigured choices built into the game). Though using DS system as a means of multiplayer may be just as expensive, a good fraction of the world already has a DS, unlike before where your Game Boy was pointless without the beefy $40 transfer pack. No word yet on any specific features such as mini-games, just the obvious 3D Pokémon battles. A single player mode has been announced, but few details have surfaced to date.
Thank god they removed the Transfer Pack
Battle Revolution’s online service appears to be solely for battling thus far, and will also use the DS’s friend code system, thus breaking everyone’s hopes of the Wii system code replacing the need for friend codes. This also means that the possibility of a single online entity is out of the question, which puts Nintendo a step behind Sony and Microsoft as far as the online arena is concerned. But this also puts them ahead in their own right; the inclusion of online eliminates the need for overpriced hardware and also eliminates the need for a room full of friends.
Needless to say, Pokémon Battle Revolution will be a huge hit, as was every Pokémon iteration before it (with the exception of a few stinkers, such as *Pokémon Dash and Pokémon Snap*) and for good reason: addictively entertaining gameplay. People still play games like Counter Strike and Everquest for the same reason people play Pokémon: the gameplay is just plain fun, and will stay that way for years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Expect a more thorough look at Revolution when more information surfaces, but in the meantime the tentative release date is summer 2007.