Gotta Thwack ‘Em All
The Good: Massive cast of Pokémon to collect/knock out, Plenty for the extremely avid Poké-master to doThe Bad: Extremely linear in every single way, Revels in repetitiveness, Ditches elements that made the series so enjoyable in the first place
Well, the madness of political correctness has finally taken hold. No longer can truant terrors skip school in a bid to enslave animals in tiny spherical prisons until they finally succumb to Stockholm Syndrome and fight for their master’s approval. With Super Pokémon Rumble, the rules have changed however, and instead of befriending cheerful animals by locking them away, this time you can simply do it by beating them senseless.
Rather than chuck you into a weird parallel world where junior cock fighters are king, your Mii is cast into a magical toy shop, where he must aid inanimate wind-up forms of everybody’s favourite fictitious farm of elemental animals. Some evil force of renegade Pokémon are nabbing a mystical healing substance called ‘Glowdrops’ for their own devious ends. The only way to stop them pulling off this heist is by exploring various lands in toy town in a bid to befriend as many Pokémon as possible, and by proving their worth in a series of battle royale tournaments.
It’s a game that perfectly replicates a kids’ attempts at creating an amazingly imaginative world with bugger all resources, and therefore also brilliantly depicts a kids’ disappointed realisation that their animal snagging dreams will not be a reality. Partly because it lacks the same charms from the original games. Partly because the ‘Battle Royale’s’ don’t quite live up to the deathmatch madness of the film with the same name. Everything from the original colour associated titles has been stripped down to make way for an incredibly basic hack-’n'-slash instalment. You’ll be thwacking A so much it’ll probably attempt to escape in the night due to the sheer brutality you’ll be lashing out at it, occasionally having a pop at B to chuck a more exotic, if more useless attack. With HP bars that can be swiped with one bite in many cases, linear levels are basically pathways that can be blitzed through, and those pivotal ‘Battle Royale’ tournaments are nothing but button mashing frenzies.
Your team is constantly changing, as rather than basing each Pokémon on their talents, moves and elements, you’re simply gathering automatically levelled beasts to conquer tournaments. You won’t be personalising an ultimate team to suit your play style because there will be absolutely no point, you’ll just be just stock piling Pokémon from beginning to end. Although familiar favourites and new oddities will grace your squad throughout, you depersonalise every member to the point where they all become overall numbers denoting strength. It’s a simple premise that allows you to easily lead with your strongest beast, it’s just such a soulless approach to it.
It follows the same repetitive trend as the rest of the game and can end up driving you mentalThere is some fun to be had knocking the blocks off critters. If you’re particularly stressed at the horrible real world, bashing up combos can be fairly fun. If you’re a die hard Pokémon fan, there’s a bevy of content to search for, and even a Pokédex reminiscent collection screen to providing details on Pokémon you’ve befriended (though it’s in the darkest recesses of some towns). It’s just unfortunate that the dedicated will have to backtrack to the simpler levels in order to gather them, amplifying the deja vu ten-fold.
The visuals are cute enough, but certainly don’t push the 3DS’s capabilities. Every corner of each world is coated in colour, as if you’re stumbling in a pool of pic ‘n’ mix. As the environments are completely featureless however, the charmless surroundings do little to differentiate themselves from the last. The chibi-style design of all the critters are cute enough (if in some cases rather odd looking), but some jagged edges can’t be distinguished between deliberate novelty design or simply bad rendering. The free Pokédex 3DS app shows just how good a Pokémon game can look, but Super Pokémon Rumble doesn’t take advantage of the capabilities. The perky soundtrack does well to compensate the adorable settings, but it follows the same repetitive trend as the rest of the game and can end up driving you mental with the standard battle music needlessly reminding you that you’re in the middle of a fight every few seconds.
I hate repetitive games, because they end up being featured in a repetitive review, but Super Pokémon Rumbleis an unnecessary simplification of a brand that really needs reinvention more than it does re-imagining. It’s bright and sparky enough to hold your attention, just not dynamic enough to entertain. It feels like there’s a nice idea here, but it’s so dumbed down that it lacks any sort of depth. Still, its large amount of content will most likely please hardcore Poké-fans, and it’ll shut your kid up for hours on end because it has Pikachu’s wickle face on it. At the end of the day, surely a child’s silence has to count for something.