Title: Pokemon Rumble World
Developer: Game Freak, Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital
EU Availability: Digital
Block Usage: 844
The Vita community knows all about Free-to-Play games and that nasty marketing model to sap money with micro-transactions. As far as the handheld world goes, the Vita gets far more of these games than Nintendo does. That’s not to say Nintendo never gets any, but let’s just say all those Freemium Mobile games aren’t heading to the 3DS anytime soon.
Nintendo does have some games that use this model, though. There is a section on the eShop called “Free to Start: that lists these games. There’s only about half a dozen of them, but they are Nintendo’s breed of Free to Play, which are called “Free to Start”. Basically the same thing. It means you can start the game for free, but there are enhancements you can get by spending real cash on the eShop.
Before I fully expanded the site, I wanted to incorporate some of these. And truth be told, I was saving up for a PS4 at the time, and needed a money-saving way to keep doing these 3DS reviews. So, after getting that out of the way, let’s get started. Here’s my review of Pokemon Rumble World!
Your Mii is in a kingdom where Pokemon live and exist, known as “Toy Pokemon”. In this kingdom, there is a King very proud for his ownership of a Pikachu and wants to be the person with the most owned Pokemon species. However, when a Magician comes in with 11 species, he recruits you to surpass the Magician so you can be the proudest of them all, along with him.
Okay, I’m gonna go ahead and say it. The story really stinks. The story of Tri-Force Heroes wasn’t anything wonderful, but this plot premise is really half-baked, it feels. You’re collecting Pokemon and journeying so your King can be prideful over your accomplishments as if they were his own. Please don’t play this game for story. You’ll be disappointed.
Pokemon Rumble World is an isometric dungeon crawler with RPG elements thrown into the mix. I can’t really call this a fully-fledged RPG, but it’s definitely got some RPG elements thrown into it. It’s a bit different from normal Pokemon games as I will explain later. But let’s just call it an isometric dungeon crawler for now.
There are two things you can do in the game. First, you have a Hub world you can explore. There’s not a huge amount to do here. There are three locations to look at, which are the Castle, Shop, and Balloon Service. The Castle allows you to go through daily challenges to earn currency, specifically diamonds. The Shop lets you purchase items and Balloons to open up new areas. Finally, the Balloon Service lets you visit dungeons depending on what Balloons you have and use.
The Shop’s items differ as some are more multiplayer-focused, while Balloons dictate where you can go. Each Balloon has a specific theme to the dungeons it unlocks. Some dungeons primarily show a certain elemental Pokemon type, whereas others are based on various regions like the Kanto or Hoenn regions. As you play more of the game, more balloons unlock to unlock new areas and Pokemon to collect.
When you deploy to a dungeon, you have three possible dungeons in each area that is chosen at random, like a roulette wheel. Once it’s chosen, you’re thrown into the dungeon. Each dungeon is comprised of 3 areas. 2 areas have you fighting hordes of enemies and the third area is a Boss Stage. As you play through the stages, you’ll be controlling a single Pokemon.
There are some things to consider here, though. You have your entire party with you, so you can switch out anytime you want, assuming you’re far enough away from enemies that they don’t hit you in the middle of the switch. There are still elemental weaknesses to consider, so there’s some strategy to make the dungeon easier. No reason to fight a Charizard with a Sceptile when you have a Mudkip at your disposal.
As you fight enemies, they’ll drop currency and sometimes themselves, dubbing a capture. Once they’re captured, they’re yours to use. If you catch a wild Gloom, you can go into your inventory seconds later and switch out to use it in that dungeon. Capturing Pokemon varies, though. Some Pokemon of the same type and species can have higher stats than others, or even different moves.
The biggest thing to consider, however, is the fact that there is no leveling or evolution systems in this game for Pokemon. You can’t evolve a Wartortle into a Blastoise. It also doesn’t increase in power in any way possible. It’s completely static, hence the system of catching them in bulk to get more powerful ones. The only way to get a high evolution Pokemon is to encounter and capture it.
Combat feels very much like a beat-em-up game. Your Pokemon can come with 1 or 2 moves and you’re fighting large hordes of other Pokemon that are coming at you. You can run up to them and basically button-mash to fight them. That’s the general feel of it, anyways. You can’t actually button mash with many species, because of what attacks they have.
There’s a strategy element to fighting. Some Pokemon have attacks that can just rush the enemy, like Ponyta’s Tackle. However, there are other moves, like Poison Powder from Oddish that is meant to hit an enemy for very low damage and have you moving around and dodging until the poison finishes them off. You also have projectile attacks, like Sceptiles Bullet Seed, meant for long-range combat. It’s all down to what you’re using and how it is the most efficient.
Once you clear a stage, you’ll be taken home and you can review all of your catches. As your Pokedex increases, you gain experience towards Ranks. This is the RPG element I mentioned. As you level up in Rank, you get new titles to put on your profile for others you invite to your town to see, and it unlocks new content, like Balloons and Items from the Shop. You can also get Diamonds from this.
Here’s where things get Freemium-like. Diamonds. Diamonds are used to buy balloons, expanding the number of Pokemon you can carry, revivals during dungeons, among other things. The downside to this is the fact that Diamonds are very, very limited. Normal currency that you can use for your Mii’s clothing can be mass-obtained in dungeons. Diamonds cannot. They can only be obtained through a couple Passwords, but generally only come from Rank Upgrades and Challenges.
Challenges are daily missions that can only be done once a day. You get Diamonds for clearing objectives during these missions. In may Free-to-Play games, it would mean that you’ll do some stuff and get almost no diamonds at all for it, forcing you to use the Buy Diamonds option in the Shop to spend real money on more diamonds. However, you can also obtain diamonds by playing with other 3DS owners. Also, the diamond rewards from challenges are pretty decent at the start.
One last thing with diamonds is that they’re used for speeding up balloon recharge. Every time you return from a dungeon, the balloon you use will deflate and recharge. When this starts, it’ll re-inflate in less than a minute, but as you go through, that will quickly turn from 30 seconds into 20 minutes and the really high quality balloons can take hours to recharge. Or, you can spend Diamonds to go right then and there.
These elements really bring out the more casual play of the game. This isn’t a game you should play non-stop, but something you should play a couple times a day. If you play it like that, the recharge times won’t be a nuisance, and nor will the methods of getting diamonds. It’s a freemium model that can ask for money.
The problem lies in how expensive stuff gets. After I had played for roughly a couple hours, I was at the point where each new Balloon cost 30+ diamonds. If you don’t want to spend real money, you can get a max of about 11 diamonds per day via Challenges, assuming you do really well. Having friends can increase this by about 3 or 4. Still, if I want one Balloon for 30 diamonds and I don’t pay money, I have to do challenges for three days straight. And some Balloons cost over 100 or even 200 diamonds. That’s weeks of grinding.
When it all comes down to it with the numbers, it would take roughly 2,000 diamonds to buy all of the Baloons and Inventory enhancements to collect everything. With challenges and rank rewards, you can get less than half of that across the entire game. In other words, you can’t unlock everything unless you wanna spend months grinding with friends visiting you or you spend real money on the game.
As far as length is concerned, it’s a toss-up. Each dungeon can take as little as 3-5 minutes to clear, making this perfect for quick play sessions. Since there’s no real “Ending” to consider, it’s what you make of it. But hey, if you’re one of those people wanting length to be justification for purchase, the game is free.
Controlling the game is no difficult task. First off, the game does use one of the buttons on the New 3DS. The C Stick can be used for movement, both in the Hub World and in dungeons. As far as my experience goes, though, the Z buttons are not used.
Movement is also done with the Circle Pad and D-Pad. The L and R buttons can be held together to take a snapshot of the game. Then, we have the touch screen and face buttons. A interacts with people in the Hub World, while both A and B are set for attacks in dungeons. Y doesn’t seem to do anything in the game, and the X button is used to pull up the Switch menu to switch out your Pokemon.
The touch screen is used for menus. In the Hub World, you can use it to look at your profile, let go of multiple Pokemon, and use the multiplayer features, like Street Pass.
The downside of this? The controls aren’t explained to you at all. Not even movement is told to you, which is very strange for a game like this. With the all-ages audience, it would be thought for the game to tell you how to do everything. But not in this game.
Visually, the game looks pretty nice. The 3D cel-shaded models look nice. In all honesty, the Pokemon look nicer in this game than they do in X, Y, Alpha Sapphire, and Omega Ruby. It really works out well with the theme, too. They really do look like living toys in this world.
The rest of the performance I do not have issues with. Load times are nice, animations and frame rate are nice and steady. No real complaints there.
Pokemon Rumble World is a very cute free-to-play game that is brought down by a lame story, lack of explanation, and a Micro-Transaction system that forces you to pay real money to unlock everything. Despite the offputting freemium model, the combat and capture system has a lot of charm to it that any Pokefan can get addicted to very quickly.