Super PokÃ©mon Rumble Review
While the main entries in the Pokémon series rate among the most deceptively deep RPGs on the market, Pokémon spin-offs tend to be decidedly harder to defend.
From the atrocious stylus-controlled racing of DS launch title to Pokémon Dash and the pointless drudgery of Poképark Wii, a lack of battling is usually a fair indication that a Pokémon game will only offer anything for young children or people who would happily wear a Pikachu hat in public.
It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, of course – follow-ups to the Stadium games have grown increasingly cynical since the minigames were axed, Puzzle League and Snap proved that conflict wasn’t the keystone of a Pokémon game after all, and in this case, even with combat taken to caffeine rush, button-bashing extremes, Super Pokémon Rumble still manages to fall some way short of any Pokémon game with a colour in the title.
Pokemon toys in the game? This smells like subliminal marketing to us.
A fleshed-out sequel to the simple 2009 WiiWare diversion of almost the same name, the prefix denotes a slew of changes and addition that make this the undeniably superior game.
Full representation of the entire Pokémon cast is chief among these (albeit in the game’s bizarre super-deformed style, since they’re all supposed to be wind-up toys), though the structure is also greatly improved, a linear narrative-led procession through increasingly dangerous areas where the original offered just sets of stages followed by Battle Royale events on a loop.
The two new battle modes hit both ends of the quality spectrum – Team Battle lets you take in two toys from your collection as AI-controlled allies (and even fuse with them for a brief power-up), while Rush Battles are frankly awful, each a futile burst of hammering A and wailing on the flimsy Circle Pad before a Press A To Win boss encounter.
Main stages are still as entertaining as their limitations allow, two-button combat no more mindless than the majority of dungeon crawlers, even if some of the dungeons do drag on a bit. Recruitment is still a curious science, with defeated enemies occasionally turning into collectible toys to grow your little army.
Would you befriend vermin?
And even though their power levels and move sets of new allies are randomised and often usurped in the space of just a few stages, it’s hard to break away from the usual Pokémon mindset and remain detached from character and happy to use whatever happens to be strongest rather than personal favourites. Still, the switch mechanic makes for a nice change in a genre that so often tries to pass off potion spam as skill-based gameplay.
If you’re the kind of penny-pinching Pokémaniac who has held off on getting a 3DS until Nintendo released a Pokémon game for the platform, now is not the time to expand your handheld horizons – at least not for that single reason.
Since assembling a team is more luck than judgment, Rumble couldn’t be further away from the core values of the traditional Pokémon games. Simplistic dungeon-grinding fare for dedicated fans and younglings only, then.