On Gamnesia.com, we decided to do a Pokémon week dedicated to the soon-to-be-released Pokémon X and Y games coming out for the 3DS. Let me get my opinion on Pokémon out of the way right now. I do like the series, but I haven’t played most of the main games in the franchise. However, I keep myself updated on the new or upcoming Pokémon games that will be released. Now then, let us move on to the Pokémon spin-off games. You either like these games or not. They come in different genres of games, and range on different levels of fun. Some of the spin-off games are better than others, and that is a bummer, since they are spin-offs of a very popular franchise. Anyway, today’s review is of the third game in the Pokémon Rumble franchise, Pokémon Rumble U. This is a good example of a game that has a lot of positive things in it, but it also has a lot of bad design choices that hold it back, which results in it being just another spin-off game that you will either get into or hate. Let us get started!
The story takes place in a world where the biggest deals in the toy world are these gashapon Pokémon toys. An accident happens in the store carrying these toys, and a lot of these gashapon Pokémon toys are swept down the river. A couple of the toys come to life and make it their job to bring back the other missing toys, and get back to the toy store. Yeah, forget about the story in this one, you will be much better off.
Pokémon Rumble U is basically an isometric action game, kind of like a child-friendly version of Diablo or the Deathspank games. You will start off with four different Pokémon. You combat your way through arenas of enemies, and fight a huge boss at the end of each arena. During these arena levels, you can collect money and get other Pokémon to play as and swap out your team members with. Most of the Pokémon in the game have two different attacks, and some only have one, so choose wisely which Pokémon you want to take with you. The arenas do get tougher, and the sub-challenges that are thrown at you in each arena give the game replay value to see if you can complete them all. Just like Skylanders and the recently released Disney Infinity, Pokémon Rumble U has little figures that you can scan onto the Wii U’s Gamepad on the bottom left corner. You can customize these figures with more health or attack power, and even swap out different moves for the figure, along with giving them a secondary ability. There is a little bit of strategy to the overall gameplay, but this was easily made for kids who love to mash buttons. Luckily, unlike the Skylanders series, you do not need buy all the figures to progress through the game.
The graphics are solid. They are not the best on the Wii U, but they get the job done. I don’t mind the graphics personally since I like the look of the game. Reminds me of that Nintendo 3DS RPG Crimson Shroud where all the characters and monsters look like those little model pieces you use in table top games. The music is upbeat and exciting, but from what I have read, the music is taken from the other two Rumble games.
So, what is wrong with the game? Sadly, there are some major problems with this game. I will start with the figures. While they are cool-looking, and I think there is a charm to them, I hate how you have to buy them individually. There is also a random factor to this since you don’t know which figure you will get and you will feel like you wasted your money if you happen to get a double, which is never fun. Then again, if you don’t absolutely need the figures to progress through the game, why have them at all? Let us move on to the actual game now. The game can be very repetitive due to the fact that each level is an arena. Sure, each of the arenas might have reasons to replay them, like challenges, but when every level is set up like this, it can get boring really quickly. I also wish you could play the game by yourself. You have all four Pokémon out on each arena, and the AI controls the Pokémon that are not controlled by a human player. It’s annoying when you have to complete certain sub-objectives, and the AI just screws it all up. It is also a missed opportunity to have some kind of AI command option like Secret of Mana or the Tales games, where you can program how they act. Heck, if they were given a bigger budget or more time, they could have done a take on the Valkyrie Profile games, where each button on the Wii U GamePad is an attack button. It would make combat more interesting. Let’s add insult to injury onto the arena-only levels. Since so many enemies can be on screen at once, the screen can get cluttered if you don’t know which Pokémon you are.
In the end, this game is average at best. It has its fun moments, and playing with three other people is also pretty crazy, but it has a lot of design choices that hold the game back from arena-only levels to repetition in gameplay. At 17 bucks, I can say one of the things that Nintendo needs to do is lower the price on this game, along with making sure the sequel is much more fleshed out. Think about it, a Diablo-style Pokémon with a fully fleshed out world and combat mechanics. In my opinion, this game is definitely better than, say, Skylanders in some respects, but if you want to get a game that revolves around the “buy the game and some toys” gimmick, you are better off getting Disney Infinity. It’s a shame, since I do like this game, but with two other franchises that are doing the same thing, Nintendo needs to up the ante on this specific spin-off series. It’s enjoyable, but unless Nintendo does something to improve on this game, this series won’t last long. It’s entertaining if you have a couple of friends and figures, but otherwise get it when the price has dropped, or skip it entirely.
This game gets a 5 out of 10