With Pokémon Rumble World being the second PokéFremium game to hit the 3DS in the last month or two, I didn’t quite know what to expect from a second one so soon.
Pokémon Crush Saga certianly wasn’t astounding, cramming the microtransactions in with so much gusto I haven’t touched it much since my initial review. So whatever I was hoping for in Pokémon Rumble World, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away. Fortunately, Pokémon Rumble World isn’t bad by way of Fremium Adventure games. It’s not perfect – not by a long shot – but it’s not bad.
Pokémon Rumble World is fairly different from almost every other Pokémon game to have hit the shelves – free or otherwise – in that this time you play as a Pokémon. Well, you play a wind-up Toy Pokémon, but that’s just semantics really. For all intents and purposes you are whatever Pokémon you want to be.
In Rumble World, the basic premise is that the King of Castle Town, the capital of the world in which Rumble World is set, is a bit of a simpleton. An evil wizard rocks up and starts bragging about he has 5 different species of Pokémon, and the King gets jealous. He assigns your Mii as his Royal Adventurer, and then proceeds to rank you based on the number of new species of Pokémon you catch. As you’d expect from a Mii-themed game, this is pretty much as deep as the storyline gets.
At the start of the game, the King gives you his toy Pikachu which takes over as what you control. You jump in a hot air balloon and fly to a random stage to battle your way through some random Pokémon. While we still have the staple of the franchise that is the overcomplicated elemental weakness system, the rest of Pokémon Rumble World is radically different from what we are used to. You see, instead of the four attack system we all know and love, your Pikachu has either one or two random attacks, assigned to A or B.
Not that you need to use the A or B button really – you can cruise around with the joystick and your Pokémon will auto-attack anything that comes within range. As you kill Pokémon they either fall to the floor or drop coins – if they fall to the floor you can run over them to pick them up, making them a playable character which you can immediately switch out with Y.
Bizarrely, there’s no levelling system in the game outside of your Adventurer Rank. As you collect Pokémon you’ll see that they have assigned attacks and a given power level, and these never change. If you don’t like that your Pikachu has Dig and Rollout with a power level of 400, tough Typole – go catch another one and hope that it’s a better Pokémon. The problem here is that unlike the normal games in the franchise, you cannot simply free-roam. You take your hot air balloon to an area and spin the wheel, you land wherever your wheel stops. You battle through the level for a minute or two, kill the boss, then return home either in the knowledge that your new Weedle is stronger than your Kyogre, or safe in the knowledge that that wasn’t a complete waste of two minutes. Sadly there’s almost zero tactics involved in catching Pokémon, which goes against everything that the series has stood for over the last two decades.
I say almost because this is where the Freemium aspect of Pokémon Rumble World comes in. Each area has 3-4 stages, and each stage has a set list of Pokémon you can catch. When you catch them all you need a new area to visit, and you need a new hot air balloon to get there. Somehow hot air balloons in Pokémon Rumble World are basically homing pigeons, but since this game isn’t exactly trying to make sense we’ll let this one slide.
The problem is that balloons cost Poké Diamonds, which you can either get by Streetpassing, Spotpassing or doing story missions for the King. If this is too slow, you can pay real money to expediate the process. The aforementioned coins, in case you were wondering, simply go towards customizing your Mii with cosmetic items – there’s no real gameplay benefit.
Fortunately, you can get through Pokémon Rumble World fairly easily without having to (or being constantly reminded that you can) buy the premium currency. For this I tip my hat to the developer Ambrella, as this is how Fremium should work. I’m a lot more inclined to spend money in Pokémon Rumble World than I am in Pokémon Shuffle. You can also stop your roulette wheel for 2 Poké Diamonds and manually select a stage, but that’s simply not very economical.
Musically, you can tell that this is a Pokémon game. Nothing really to say apart from that – the score is pretty decent, but doesn’t really carry many surprises. Visually, it looks as you’d expect from a Mii-based game – crisp but simple graphics, but nothing to write home about – though it does make good use of 3D, if you’re into that sort of thing, with plenty of depth added to arenas and with some neat effects.
What else can I say about Pokémon Rumble World? Well it’s free, you probably won’t spend real money in it, and it’s nice to play something a little different. It’s a fun little game to play, the writing is innocuous and while it looks like a kids’ game at a glance, it can get pretty challenging if you don’t pay attention.
If you’re looking for a cute way to kill a bus ride to work/school without shelling out for a full-priced game, you can’t go far wrong with Pokémon Rumble World. There’s some fun to be had here – even if the gameplay mechanics don’t quite do enough to satisfy in the long-term.