Pokémon remains–some 20 years after its initial release–a powerfully popular franchise. However, while Pokémon-proper is still going strong, several of its spinoff series continue to be significantly less well received.
Call it blasphemy if you must, but I actually really enjoy the Pokémon Rumble titles. With roots that go all the way back to the 2009 WiiWare original, Pokémon Rumble games are dungeon-crawling brawlers that cast the titular Pocket Monsters as wind-up toys.
While both Pokémon Rumble Blast for the 3DS and Nintendo’s first foray into the toys-to-life market, Pokémon Rumble U, received 0verall tepid reviews, they were wildly popular in my house, where these Poké-brawlers still saw regular play for quite a while after their respective releases. At least until the 2015 eShop arrival of the free-to-play Pokémon Rumble World.
This iteration cast the toy Pokémon, the player’s Mii, and (eventually) a company of friends and family as citizens of the fantastical Kingdom of Toys, where the King challenged players to collect all 719 Pokémon to defeat local baddies and increase the all-important Adventure Rank. While type advantage still played a part, the main focus of the title was madcap button-mashing, and the best tactic seemed to be to quickly switch out your current ‘Mon whenever a toy/creature with a higher power level was captured.
While not exactly the picture of poise and grace, the game worked, and it was crazy fun for the kids and me. However, the freemium model did serve as a bit of a stumbling block.
The chief in-game currency, Poké Diamonds, was used to unlock a widening array of themed areas—rotating collections of evocatively-named worlds like the Leafy Expanse and Sapphire Sea—each visited by our hero and his toy army via hot-air balloon. But the painfully slow manner in which these Poké Diamonds were doled out (not to mention the random, roulette wheel stage selection model used to determine which stop in each area you’d visit next) combined to make a perfect storm of fan frustration.
While I was able to exercise restraint, my kids—being, you know, kids—would frequently beg for a few real-world dollars to cash in for those sweet, sweet Poké Diamonds. As you can imagine, this managed to dull the fun and frivolity.
Thankfully, Nintendo released a retail version of Pokémon Rumble World late last month. Budget-priced at $29.99, this game boasts all the enjoyment of the previous downloadable release with none of the pesky in-game purchases. All the StreetPass and SpotPass functionality is still there—it can even communicate with passersby’s copies of the freemium title—but this time the player starts off with a whopping 3000 Poké Diamonds (not to mention a mine that can generate an additional 20 per day) to spend to his heart’s content!
Early on this can make the game feel almost too easy, what with your embarrassment of riches, but it effectively eliminates the otherwise inevitable bottleneck later encountered when you must weigh the option of coughing up Diamonds for a new set of stages or to bypass the cooldown time for areas already explored that play session, or save them up for that shiny new (and exorbitantly priced) purchase you’ve got your eye on.
With summer road trip season almost upon us, Pokémon Rumble World is an ideal title for amusing the often combative occupants of your backseat or for whiling away the hours yourself. Simple, intuitive controls, an expansive selection of Pokémon, and a bevy of some 80 stages spread out between 18 different areas make Pokémon Rumble World a surprisingly big little game. And without the looming threat of another in-game purchase, you can, at last, enjoy all of it.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America