reviews\ Oct 28, 2011 at 9:00 am

Pokemon Rumble Blast Review (3DS)


First introduced as a downloadable title on Nintendo’s WiiWare service, Pokemon Rumble Blast has stood out as a quirky addition to the ongoing franchise.  Rather than relying on the usual “cast your Pokemon out strategically” method, you instead go into battles with your fellow Pokemon and proceed to beat the living tar out of the competition.  Smash Bros. it isn’t, but for a $15 downloadable game, it’s not half bad.  Is the formula enough to carry a full retail release for Nintendo 3DS?  Not entirely.  Pokemon Rumble Blast takes the concept initially introduced on WiiWare and expands it with a better storyline, co-op options, and plenty of new Pokemon – but it’s just the same old fight.

Pokemon rumble blast 3ds screenshot

Rather than take control of living, breathing creatures, you instead guide a toy Pokemon through various battles on your way to becoming a champion of your region.  Along the way, you’ll make a few allies, as well as a few enemies.  Each battle will become increasingly crazy as you butt heads with your rival, who continuously causes trouble for you.  The object of the game?  Win, of course – it’s the basic principle that every Pokemon game has strived for.

Like we said, there is a story here, and fans will appreciate how it unfolds, especially as new Pokemon are introduced to the fold.  The game includes familiar characters and new faces that are sure to become collector’s items in certain Pokedexes for months to come.

The gameplay relies on the basic “gotta pound ‘em all” techniques, as you run across groups of Pokemon in the forest, dungeons, and other locations using your prized creatures.  As new members join your party, your power expands with new attacks and techniques, though the way you execute them remains about the same.  The stronger Pokemon you find should obviously be at the forefront of your battles, though it would’ve been nice to find a way to beef up the weaker ones in your party so they can keep up.

Though the battles do become epic at times, the gameplay feels like it’s stuck in a very strict method.  You don’t really do much outside of pounding buttons, and for hardcore Pokemon fans, that may feel like an alienation of everything the series stands for.  It’s entertaining, but it’s also one-note – about on the same level as the WiiWare game.  The only difference is that this costs about $20-$25 more, depending where you pick it up.

There are additional benefits to this version.  The visuals now explode in 3D, and it’s cool to see Pokemon jumping around in battle, even to the point where it looks like they’re going to leap right at you.  The environments are colorful, save for the dungeons, which mostly repeat themselves, and the animation is spot-on, especially toy Pikachu.

Pokemon rumble blast 3ds screenshot

Furthermore, you can hook up with fellow friends in battle, either through StreetPass (which passes on Poke-data) or through direct co-op battles, supported by local online play.  If you’ve got a slew of card-carrying buddies, this might be an ideal way to pass the time.

That’s really about it to this game.  Though new characters join the fun, the gameplay never Poke-evolves (yikes, I’m overusing that term), and there’s never really enough motivation to continue past one playthrough.  Plus, the audio may get on some people’s nerves, between the sound samples and the repetitive music.

If you enjoyed the WiiWare game or just need your Poke-fix (sigh) this holiday season, Rumble Blast could very well be the way for you to go.  Everyone else, you can probably wait for Mario Kart 7 and not miss a Poke-thing.  (Sigh, I REALLY need to stop that.)

Above Average

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