Nintendo Spring Media Summit 2007 continued...

Pokemon Battle Revolution
Developer: Genius Sonority; Publisher: Nintendo
June 25, 2007

It would be fairly easy to write off Genius Sonority's Pokemon Battle Revolution as yet another mindless extension of the Game Freak's long-running monster dueling series--yet, there are a number of new features to lure series fans into battling on Wii. Set on the island of Poketopia, the game offers a single player campaign and a slate of multiplayer modes. The campaign starts you off as a rookie trainer, having you compete in ten different arenas in an attempt to become the Poketopia Master. As usual, a few new Pokemon join the huge roster transferring over to Wii, accompanied by new customizable trainers. I was unable to check out the personalization options firsthand, but their presence is a promising step forward for a franchise that is known to evolve at a snail's pace.

The true focus of Pokemon Battle Revolution rests with multiplayer. Three varieties will be offered: split-screen, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and Nintendo DS Battle. Two players can duke it out using two Wii Remotes via split screen, or you can take the opportunity to engage others in online battles with wi-fi multiplayer. Little was shown of online play, which essentially mirrors the turn-based duels found in the single player game. Players take turns summoning Pokemon to battle, using the Wii Remote to select actions on the screen. The series' battle mechanics are not being altered in this first outing on the Wii, which is fine considering how well they work.

Where Pokemon Battle Revolution looks to shine is in Nintendo DS Battle mode. Up to four players can compete simultaneously, linking a copy of either Pokemon Pearl or Pokemon Diamond with the Wii game. I participated in a head-to-head battle using a Nintendo DS Lite as a controller, while the action took place on the television screen. Referring to my DS, I glanced at information related to my selected Pokemon and then entered commands using the face buttons. There's some lag between entering commands on DS and then witnessing the resulting actions on Wii, but since the game is turn-based it shouldn't prove too big an issue. At the very least, it was entertaining to see two-dimensional sprites from the DS titles transformed into fully animated monsters on Wii.

The emphasis on multiplayer, in particular with Nintendo DS Battle mode, makes Pokémon Battle Revolution quite the fanservice. While there is some appeal for newcomers, it looks as though the game is being geared toward franchise followers. With a release right around the corner in June, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Developer: EA Montreal; Publisher: Electronic Arts
Fall 2007

Aiming to capitalize on the mass-market buzz surrounding Wii, Electronic Arts is hoping to strike a groove with Boogie. EA Montreal's Wii-exclusive title is essentially two games in one: a dancing game and a karaoke box. The dancing portion of the game uses the Wii Remote and nunchuk, while singing involves a microphone that Electronic Arts plans on packing with the game. All of the 40 licensed tracks planned for the game will be playable in either form, as well as in a combination of both singing and dancing. A single player campaign and several multiplayer modes will be offered, including cooperative and head-to-head dance-offs, as well as a slate of mini-games.

Before you start performing, you'll need to select one of five characters hilariously called "Boogs." These dancing machines are customizable using items unlocked through the course of play. Points earned cutting rugs or singing hearts out can earn you medals for each song. Additionally, you can earn tokens in the single player game to access cool new clothes and accessories.

Waving the Wii Remote and nunchuk allows you to dance, with the remote used to control your Boog's feet and the nunchuk its upper body. Playing a head-to-head match to The Commodores' "Brick House," I waved the controllers to the beat of the music in order to pull off a few slick moves. For example, swinging the Wii Remote left-right-left results in a spinning dance step. A meter sitting at the bottom of the screen fills up as you dance, which when filled allows you to trigger a combo move with the B button. Since each Boog has unique choreography, there are quite a few steps to be seen on the dance floor, even if the controls are limited to a few movements.

Boogie should be great for parties, especially with its video capture feature. Any stage you play can be saved as a video file and then edited with camera angles and special effects to show off to friends. While it won't take the place of hardcore Wii titles, Boogie does look to offer a lively experience when it hit the dance floor later this year.