by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Pok & eacute;mon Battle Revolution & r &

Rated Everyone; Wii & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & P & lt;/span & ok & eacute;topia is the Disneyland-like setting of Pok & eacute;mon Battle Revolution, the fourth entry in the franchise's series of television-based Pok & eacute;mon combat games. Pok & eacute;topia looks somewhat like Singapore or Japan, with neon colors and large, looming mascots grinning from every vertical surface on the island. Scattered through this glowing theme park, Pok & eacute;mon coliseums await -- vast, surreal cathedrals dedicated to the series' trademark checks-and-balances battles.

Pok & eacute;mon battles -- whether they're played with Pok & eacute;mon trading cards or the videogames -- are about having a "type" of Pok & eacute;mon that defeats the opponent's type. Water beats fire. Fire beats grass. Grass beats water. So does electricity, which is vulnerable to ground-type attacks, which themselves succumb to water and ice. By the time the series' 490 Pok & eacute;mon and their types (and hybrid-types) have been accounted for, the game is a nearly limitless battle matrix.

Pok & eacute;mon Battle Revolution stages the battles as happening between 3D-modeled Pok & eacute;mon in Pok & eacute;topia's garish coliseums. Each coliseum has its own set of variations on the standard battle which change the feeling of the game more than any of the franchise's other recent spin-offs. There are battles in which my Pok & eacute;mon are pooled with an opponents' Pok & eacute;mon, and we take turns randomly picking our battle team from the whole group. Another coliseum forces me to battle with my Pok & eacute;mon in strict order, one after another.

Aside from these variations, Revolution doesn't bring any new ammunition to the battle. There are no discernible plotlines or characters to influence the battle. Instead of developing a personal team of Pok & eacute;mon to escort me across wild countryside, I borrow prefabricated teams of Pok & eacute;mon, making Revolution about renting instead of catching 'em all. I can import my Pok & eacute;mon from Pok & eacute;mon Diamond and Pearl, and battle with a team of familiar faces, but they don't change or develop while fighting in Revolution.

After winning enough battles in Pok & eacute;topia's coliseum circuit, I can unlock rare items in Pok & eacute;mon Diamond or Pearl. Knowing Nintendo, if I play Revolution forever, I might eventually unlock an ultra-rare Pok & eacute;mon, which almost makes the game worthwhile for a dedicated Pok & eacute;maniac. But by the time the $50 Revolution is joined by the necessary Wii ($250) and supplemented by the Nintendo DS ($150) sporting a copy of Diamond or Pearl ($40), the whole thing adds up to nothing more than a $450 diversion in the Pok & eacute;mon series.

THE GOOD: For players who have already worked their ways through Diamond and Pearl, and have friends who want to battle with that game's complete roster of Pok & eacute;mon, Revolution allows the fights to happen in animated 3D. Wirelessly connecting a DS to a Wii turns out to be as simple as wirelessly connecting two DSs to each other -- just turn them on and tell them to connect.

THE BAD: The Pok & eacute;mon in Revolution, though embodying more 3D detail than they've ever possessed, are wretchedly animated. They flounce about like balloon animals, which only looks natural when the balloon Pok & eacute;mon do it. The rest of them lack weight, mass and any sense of anatomy, fantastical or otherwise.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Pok & eacute;mon Battle Revolution undermines the individuality of the series with coliseum battles between prefabricated teams of someone else's Pok & eacute;mon.

2/5 Stars

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