Game Rant's Riley Little reviews Pokemon Rumble Blast
It's been too long since a new Pokemon experience has been had on a Nintendo handheld, but Pokemon Rumble Blast is now available on the Nintendo 3DS in an attempt to fulfil the collectible monster-related needs of the masses.
Rumble Blast is a follow-up to the downloadable WiiWare title Pokemon Rumble, and it plays in almost an identical manner to its predecessor. The WiiWare exclusive was a mindless-but-fun game, and Pokemon Rumble Blast is too. The problem is that this game still feels like a $15 experience — and not the $35 one it is billed as.
Pokemon Rumble Blast is a very different take on the franchise's traditional formula. All of the Pokemon are actually toys, and their appearance reflect that - PRB does enhance the look of the characters that appeared in the WiiWare installment. The player's Mii is thrown into the main role with an objective to collect a team of the strongest toy Pokemon across this imaginary universe and become a champion. Along the way, Pokemon in this fictional world discover that there is a hidden plot to rob them of their glowdrops, drops of water that heal all of their wounds. The story isn't by any means one of this game's biggest appeals, but it does give players some reasoning behind why they are actually playing through this toy version of the world of Pokemon.
The gameplay itself is step away from the turn-based fights that the franchise is so well known for, and is instead more of a dungeon crawler/beat 'em up hybrid. Players are tasked with wandering around the game's levels and worlds while visiting different dungeons in order to collect strong enough characters to eventually take on the stronger Pokes in final level of that area. Each standard level and the Pokemon that dwell within it is based off of the appearance and type of the dungeon (i.e. water-type Pokemon appear on the beach and in the swamp, rock Pokemon appear in caves, etc.).
Since some of the attacks are stronger against certain kinds of Pokemon, knowing which types of monster are most predominant in a certain level will help players decide which allies to pick to tear through a dungeon. While the ability to have type advantages over enemies is a strategic element that Nintendo added to the game, that doesn't make it any less mind-numbingly easy. Types don't seem to matter as much, because half the time player will be spamming either 'Y' or 'B' to get to the boss at the end of each level. This is where the flaws in the game's core mechanics become obvious.
Spamming two of the 3DS' buttons becomes a thing of common practice during a play-through of the game's story mode. There's no creature that can't be subdued with a flurry of button presses and this makes any sort of gameplay strategy a non-factor. Pokemon Rumble Blast's plethora of moves will help switch up the way players go about attacking, but most of the moves can be divided into two groups: close-combat and ranged combat. Some other moves will place a temporary status effect (paralyzed, poisoned, asleep, etc.) on the opposing toys, but these don't add enough to the combat, and will often be overlooked in an attempt to clear the room quickly.
Power is one of the only things that players need to look at before deciding which character to send into battle, and going through the levels will give anyone a handful of acceptably leveled creatures. The game will actually make the player go through levels until they've obtained an acceptable amount of stronger Pokemon, so it's nearly impossible to get caught in a situation where the challenge is too great from the opposing forces.
The combat can quickly grow tedious, but there is one redeeming element that will keep fans of the Pokemon franchise coming back. The element in question is the "gotta catch 'em all" approach to obtaining every single Pocket Monster that appears in the game. Players will randomly obtain new companions while going through levels, but which characters they receive is entirely out of their control. Random opponents will shrink into a little toy form which can then be picked up and used in combat instantly. This is the one feature that will keep dedicated players interested in continuing to play the game long after the story is completed.
The added appeal may last a very long time too, since over 500 Pokemon taken from each era are obtainable. Yes, every single known Pokemon to date can be captured in Pokemon Bumble Blast, from the original 151 that began the series, to the most recent Black and White generation. It's definitely nostalgic to add and utilize some of the older characters, but since each toy's controls are almost identically, their appearance is the only appealing factor about using certain Pokemon.
Multiplayer and the StreetPass allow players to team up locally with a friend and take on waves of toy Pokemon together, which seems like a redeeming mode for anyone who has a buddy with Pokemon Rumble Blast. The StreetPass features allow other wannabe Pokemon Masters to unlock new Pokemon, earn money, and even have a battle with their existing roster of adorable critters — and all of that is available by only walking by someone else with a 3DS and a copy of the game.
Pokemon Rumble Blast has a few redeeming qualities, but there is no question that it is simply overpriced. The gameplay is repetitive and unappealing after a short while, but there is something there for fans who feel the completionist need to power through and collect all of the Pokemon characters. Hardcore fans and those who enjoyed Pokemon Rumble on the Wii will enjoy this title, but 3DS owners desperate for a new game should save their money for the next installment in the Pokemon adventure series. Maybe Pokemon Gray?
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