In April of 2007, Tomy Interactive announced it would be bringing Pokemon to the Japanese arcades. This was a big deal as Pokemon has generally been a portable gaming franchise, with the occasional foray to the Nintendo GameCube and/or Wii. Even more interesting was the claim that this new Pokemon game was not only the newest version of the Pokemon video game franchise, but for the collectible Figure/Trading Card franchises as well.
Pokemon Battrio was revealed to be a combination of all three formats. First, a player will need to buy packs of Pokemon Battrio playing pieces, called Pucks. Pucks are thick circular cards with the picture of a Pokemon and its Hit Points on it. Picks are randomly assorted in each package, so you never know which of thirty-six Pokemon you are going to get!
Pucks are also grouped into three colors types: Hyper, which are pucks with a yellow border, Super, which have a blue border, and Normal, which have a red border. These names mean something specific to the Battrio game itself, and so don’t worry about the name classifications of Espeon with its read border. It’s still a Psychic Pokemon. As well, Pokemon can be on different color pucks for each of their evolutionary forms. For example, Piplup is a red puck (Normal), and Empoleon is on a yellow bordered puck (Hyper). There is a fourth color border, which is purple. There is no listing of what this color means puck-wise, and I’ve only seen it on Palkia and Dialga, so I am assuming it represents Legendary Pokemon.
Now here’s where the arcade aspect comes in. Each of these pucks has a little bit of circuitry in them that allow the pucks to communicate with the arcade game. You then choose up to three of your pucks and place them on the Strategy Grid. The Strategy Grid is a 4 x 4 green section on the arcade cabinet. There is one for each player. Wherever you place your pucks on this screen is where the electronic version of that Pokemon will appear in the game. In this sense, Pokemon Battrio is more about strategy and battle placement than other Pokemon games before it. As well, Pokemon Battrio features the first ever three on three Pokemon battles! Before now, you could only have two-on-two battles. This guarantees you’ll see Pokemon action like never before.
Strategy is very important in Battrio, but as we only have the barest of details, we can only go off Tomy’s press releases and what has been revealed on the video game’s web site, www.battrio.com. We do know that depending on how you arrange your Pokemon on the strategy grid, you can earn attack and defense bonuses. As well, we have been told that certain combinations of Pokemon Types can give you bonuses, but as of now, we have no idea what the special combinations are, or what kind of bonuses one will receive. From reading the Batrrio website and watching the video it includes, you can see that using each of the starters from Pokemon Diamond/Pearl gives you a bonus, as does a “V” formation (Having one Pokemon in the top right corner of your grid, one in the bottom right corner and one in the middle of left hand side of your grid.
We also know that in addition to the cost of buying the packages of pucks that playing a game of Pokemon Battrio in the arcade will cost approximately Ã¯Â¿Â¥100, or eighty-seven cents. Each game lasts about five minutes, which may sound short for those of us used to the 100+ hour RPG’s, but for card/figure fans, this should be about right. A nice quick little game between friends, and the cost is actually less than most newly released arcade games these days. As well, if you want to play the game, but can’t find a place that sells the packages, you can get 1 puck for every Ã¯Â¿Â¥100 you put in after the first (up to three). This makes the game cheaper to play that the TFG or the CCG!
It’s interesting to note that Pokemon Battrio features what are known as “Cel-Shaded Graphics.” Cel shading is meant to make computer animated graphics look like cartoon or hand drawn animation. As you can see from a few of the screen shots here, Pokemon Battrio does look a lot closer to the cartoon in style than previous Pokemon games. Other video games that use this technique range from Jet Set Radio for the Sega Dreamcast to the recent The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS. We can also tell from one of the screenshots included here that there is a single health bar for each team. Contrary to previous beliefs and erroneous reports that the health bar represents each player, the health bar is actually made up of combined Hit Points on each of your three pucks.
One of the more unique features of Pokemon Battrio is the memory key function. This function allows you to register within the Pokemon Battrio game itself, selecting your Trainer name and appearance. This means you can keep coming back to the same game and your information will be stored there. It is unknown as of yet if it will store your used Pokemon or any won-loss record, but that would make the game all the more exciting if it did! It will also be interesting to see if Pokemon Battrio arcade cabinets can talk to each other, so that your information can be found anywhere you choose to play. A few years ago, this would not have been possible, but with the proliferation of wireless internet, there’s a chance this could happen. We’ll just have to wait for more details on this feature.
You can witness two different videos of Pokemon Battrio in action by going to the video game’s website at http://battrio.com/movie/index.shtml. The entire website is in Japanese, so for many of our readers, navigating and trying to understand the website will be difficult. Still, you can sit back and watch a video of a game that with a little luck, you’ll be able to play in a nearby arcade someday!
It’s really nice to see Tomy trying to merge all three Pokemon fanbases into a game that all three can come together on and enjoy. Sadly, the official release date for Pokemon Battrio is currently unknown, but people were allowed to try the game in late Jan. and Feb. in select locations around Japan. It is doubtful that the game will ever come to North America due to the overall loss of arcades across the continent over the past ten years. It’s a real shame too, as it looks like a lot of fun!
Here is a list of all thirty-six Pokemon that you can get from the randomly assorted puck packs and use in Pokemon Battrio!
Click here to download a PDF of the Japanese marketing materials for the game including rules and a puck check list!