REVIEW: Pokémon Rumble World

REVIEW: Pokémon Rumble World

Note: Pokemon Rumble World is a “Free-to-Start” game by Nintendo. You can download the game for free on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Chibi. Pokémon. Yes, tons of chibi (small) Pokémon toys await in Pokémon Rumble WorldPokémon Rumble World is a “Free-to-Start” game developed by Ambrella  for the Nintendo 3DS.  Unlike the recent title, Pokémon Shuffle, which aimed to attack you with microtransactions (which you can read about in our official review!), Pokémon Rumble World attempts to take a more delicate approach at convincing you to pay for the full game.  To be clear: Pokemon Rumble World is a Free-to-Start title, not a Free-to-Play title. T he objective of the game is to convince you to spend money on it, or end up spending the money to essentially unlock the whole game ($30 USD).  For those of you that would like to try out the title, and attempt to progress without spending a single penny, you’re in luck!  You can actually do so within fair limits of a “free” game like this.  You purchase balloons with diamonds, the premium currency of the game, which unlock stages for you to play through.  The premium currency is obtainable by spending money on the game, or by progressing through the story and completely daily missions obtained at the king’s castle.  Balloons take time (higher priced balloons with rarer Pokémon take longer) to re-inflate after using them, but once they are purchased you will have them available forever.  Once you fly off in a balloon, you use a roulette based system to randomly select one of a few stages.  Sometimes they will become “fever” stages that have different music and reward better quality Pokémon.

Pokemon Rumble World starts off with you choosing a Mii from your console to be your avatar for the game. You end up meeting with a king who has a fascination with collecting and seeing more Pokémon “toys”, which are the primary combatants of the game. He ends up loaning you his Pikachu toy, but you are then immediately thrown right into the action.  You’re sent on a hunt to collect more Pokémon toys for yourself, but also to show to the king.  I felt that this opening sequence was one of the most successful things about the title.  You weren’t subjected to reading through dialogue after dialogue about how the game was played, you are simply thrown into it, and given a tutorial as you are playing through everything.  The game even at that point teaches you how to switch to other Pokémon you collect as you progress through each stage, so you can use them right away!

One of the best things about Pokémon Rumble World is that it uses the Pokémon brand well, and attempts to cater to the gameplay that you’ve grown to expect from other Pokémon titles.  Electric Pokémon are going to be strong against water, while water is strong against ground, and ground is strong against electric.  This is a common theme in Pokémon games and it’s put to use in Pokémon Rumble World immediately. However, unlike in the normal Pokémon games, combat is not turn-based, and is instead realtime.  The combat remains simplistic, yet oddly appealing with how it works.  Simply by moving around with the control stick and using the primary attack buttons (A / B), your Pokémon will go and attack other Pokémon on each stage. Different Pokémon have different abilities, but sometimes they will even have more than one ability for you to use to dispatch opponents with.

The gameplay is interactive throughout each stage, while being oddly reminiscent of the Diablo franchise with many destructible elements in the environment during fights.  As you’re defeating other Pokémon, you’re rushing over where you once defeated them to pick up toys, coins, and benefits for your Pokémon. You’re attempting to clear floors on each stage to get to the boss, and, once you defeat the boss, you are rewarded with a large amount of coins.  Some stages even give you additional rewards based upon how fast you clear them.

Unfortunately, from my experience on a Nintendo 3DS XL, frame rate issues occur at times when you’re playing the game when too much is going on (at this time I cannot confirm if the New Nintendo 3DS has these issues as well).  It can be detrimental when you’re fighting large hordes of enemies that are all using graphically intensive abilities, since you will not be able to get away from them easily.  I’ve also noticed these issues during boss fights where bosses attempt to use abilities that are graphically intensive, and when other Pokémon near them are using flashy abilities as well.  Going forward we can hope that these issues are patched to prevent them from happening.

I found Pokémon Rumble World to be one of the most surprising titles to hit the eShop so far this year on the Nintendo 3DS.  If more developers release games similar to how Pokémon Rumble World operates, I can only imagine that they will be successful.  A Free-to-Start genre is much more consumer friendly than the Free-to-Play genre for gamers.  Perhaps Nintendo will end up releasing games similar to Pokémon Rumble World on mobile platforms, and if they do they will be more successful than Pokémon Shuffle.  Afterall, it’s not fun to feel like you have to empty your entire wallet just to play a video game.

This copy of Pokemon Shuffle was purchased by the staff here at GeekTFO for the purposes of this review.

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