Pokémon Rumble Blast is the first Pokémon title to arrive on the 3DS, and should be the first of many. Pokémon and handhelds go hand in hand, and there’s no doubt that fans of the franchise are glad to see these critters in a new title. Pokémon has a huge following, but don’t get your hopes up too much; Pokémon Rumble Blast is its own unique experience that isn’t what we’re normally used to seeing from the hugely popular series. In short: this is a spin-off.
The premise of Pokémon for the past 15 years or so has been taking (mostly cute) monsters and having them battle it out to see how good of a trainer you are. Each Pokémon is categorized into a type and this determines what kind of moves they can learn, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Pokémon Rumble Blast adopts these concepts and puts it into a much more casual experience. First off, every Pokémon is in toy form. They’re windup toys that are very simple visually and therefore not as interesting to look at compared to their main series counterpart. That means Pokémon like Pikachu are somewhat deformed looking, but definitely still cute in a weird way. It’s almost as if the fact that they are called toys is a license to cheapen the graphics and detail of a usually diverse cast of characters and creatures.
Another change that is seen here in this spin-off that is different from the main series is that all the action is in real-time instead of turn based. You attack other Pokémon with your own by pressing the A button repeatedly and what you get here is practically a top-down view beat ‘em-up; it’s the best way I can describe it. You control one Pokémon sometimes going up against close to a dozen other Pokémon at a time, and somehow manage to defeat them all. Pokémon weaknesses and strengths are also present here, such as water types being strong against fire types, but weak against grass types.
Like I said before, the experience is very casual and easy to learn, but this shouldn’t equate to a game with almost no challenge. Unfortunately for Pokémon Rumble Blast, this is the case. After about five minutes of experimenting with buttons, I was practically a master of the game. At no time was I ever struggling or in real danger of actually losing. When a Pokémon you’re currently controlling has become low on HP (health points), you can switch out to another Pokémon on the fly. And don’t worry about running out of Pokémon, because you’ll have more than plenty at all times and I’ll explain why soon. All of it was just too easy and repetitive.
Collecting Pokémon happens whether you like it or not. Each defeated Pokémon brings forth spoils, and you can get stuff like coins or the defeated Pokémon itself. This happens, I’d say, after every 10 or so toy Pokémon defeated. At the end of a level, I usually found myself with close to 15 new toys, and 3 or 4 of the same Pokémon. Replaying the levels is also a good idea if you’re one that really wants to collect all the different kinds of Pokémon; after all, Pokémon has always been about collecting them all. You can hold as many toys as you want at a time, which makes it even easier because you don’t have to pick and choose who comes along with you into the next stage. It’s almost like having unlimited lives, because you always have so many Pokémon to swap around and they can also be healed.
After you clear all the stages in an area, a Battle Royale Arena opens up, and here things change up a bit. It’s a brawl between many Pokémon in an “every man for himself” battle, and after a certain time, the stronger Pokémon arrive. After defeating the main Pokémon, you become the Battle Royale champ! Again, it’s not very hard clear, and shouldn’t take you more than one try once you get the hang of the game. The challenge should be elementary for most gamers, and this leads up to a mediocre experience. It’s hard to have fun with a game when you’re just blowing through it.
The sights and sounds are mediocre as well. You already know the excuse of Pokémon Rumble Blast that has the graphics not set to the standards set by the free 3DS application, Pokédex 3D, but to make areas and settings just as bland has no excuse. The music is the same throughout the majority of the game. Several areas share the same music, and the repetition is almost fitting for an already repetitive game. There are multiplayer options for this game that savages it from being too much of a lackluster experience, but it requires multiple carts and 3DS’s. Good luck finding someone who has the game and is willing to play with you though.
Pokémon Rumble Blast is a picture perfect example of trying to make quick cash. A not very engaging experience mixed together with a very low production value almost screams stay away from me. We all know that for the price of $35-40 sometime down the pipeline of the 3DS there will a very worthwhile title that will offer up several (sometimes hundreds) hours of gameplay. The only thing going for a title like this was the Pokémon name. So do yourself a favor and stay away from Pokémon for a while, because you’re not exactly going to get the biggest bang for your buck here. Even for you, Pokémon fanatics.