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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Article: A Look at the Pokemon Rumble Series

Obligatory "let's get ready to rumble" reference.
With the release of Pokemon Rumble World, many people may believe that the Rumble series might be a very mediocre one considering its latest entry is a free-to-play title. While it is not a group of games I consider to be a "must-play" experience, I do believe that each entry has its merits, and I would like to go into greater detail about the games that encompass this subdivision of the Pokemon franchise for all your poor souls that have yet to experience the full power of Pokemon Rumble.

Pokemon Rumble
Release Date- JPN(16/6/2009) NA(16/11/2009) EU(20/11/2009)
The Good: Comfortable music, accessible gameplay, satisfying endgame
The Bad: Limited amount of Pokemon, challenges limited by co-operative gameplay

The first title in the Pokemon Rumble series had players picking up several controllers and attempting to run dungeons to compete in championships with the first 150 and latest (at the time) 107 Pokemon from Generation I and IV of the series, respectively. The multiplayer was a key aspect here- the dungeon crawling was addictive because of the stun mechanics that were influenced by player traits, and the championships has their own challenges that friends had to muscle through together, as a single player could not accomplish them all on their own. The unique brand of competitive/cooperation was also present, where players could relish in their productivity while still working towards a greater goal.

Outside of dungeon crawling and championship battles, there wasn't much else to do- players could get rid of their current inventory of Pokemon (5 of a certain species gave you a super buffed evolved form of the Pokemon you submitted, otherwise, it was random), submit passwords for rare Pokemon, and have fun with friends. It wasn't perfect, but it was extremely satisfying for a budget game and the party aspect was wonderful. The two-input concept meant anyone could play and the simplistic mechanics meant anyone could catch on to the eventual goal.

Pokemon Rumble Blast
Release Date- JPN(11/8/2011) NA(24/10/2011) EU(2/12/2011)
The Good: More Pokemon, larger endgame content, new mechanics
The Bad: Content spread too thin, botched co-op mode, limited move potential, pricey

Pokemon Rumble Blast came at a time for the 3DS when it needed games, and though the Rumble series wasn't the hero it needed at the time, it was at least something. With the new addition of the Generation V Pokemon in addition to the Generation II and III Pokemon that had been missing from the original release, Rumble Blast hoped to wow players with the number of Pokemon rather than the breadth of its content. The addition of rusted Pokemon certainly added an interesting twist that made sense within the bizarre universe that is the Pokemon Rumble series, but it just served as a way to stop you from getting more useful Pokemon, a concept the series is built around.

However, the inclusion of locked out and purchase-able moves, lack of variety outside of dungeon crawling, mediocre Streetpass support, and ruined two-player co-op was enough to make the title feel tedious and like it was not much of an improvement over its predecessor, despite its greater volume of Pokemon. While there was plenty to collect, there were few challenges that felt satisfying to accomplish in the endgame. Even the story mode, as... well, weird as it was, couldn't forgive the lack of arcade-y, competitive spirit the first title had.

Pokemon Rumble U
Release Date- JPN(24/4/2013) NA(15/8/2013) EU(8/29/2013)
The Good: MORE POKEMON (No, not what you're thinking), neato NFC ideas, arcade spirit
The Bad: No dungeon crawling, no goodbye mechanics, terrible NFC distribution, disappointing challenges, ridiculous checkpoint system, bad UI

Lo and behold, when a system needs a Pokemon game, Pokemon Rumble answers the call, if halfheartedly at times. Rumble U brought the idea of slaughtering massive amounts of Pokemon (now more on-screen than ever!) from the first two titles and the championship-running of the first title as well as some Wii U exclusive features, like some Touch Power bullshit and more importantly, NFC characters that could be powered up and given new moves based on how much in-game currency (NOTE: IN-GAME CURRENCY) you spend on them.

The NFC mechanics were clearly a huge part of what this game was supposed to function as- an introduction to the horrible future we now know as Amiibo. But the way it implemented its core concept was actually very enjoyable, and because of the co-operative nature of the Rumble series, it could have worked well. The only problem was, the game had so little content and the challenges were only so interesting, but atop that, certain Pokemon could only be unlocked by completing a number of checkpoints per stage. Though some of these were satisfying, others were flat-out ridiculous and required a mastery of the title that was only seen by NFC owners. Had dungeons been included in the final product, it would have felt much less hollow. As it stands, it's a series of challenges that become increasingly difficult to the point where you NEED four NFC Pokemon with maxed out stats to surpass them- and those things were gone faster that you could snap your fingers. You just did, didn't you? You snapped your fingers. If not, go ahead, try again. Yup, they're gone. Too bad.

Pokemon Rumble World
Release Date- Worldwide(April 8th, 2015)

And now, it has come to this. Though Pokemon Rumble World is a free-to-play game, the developers won't actually allow you to spend more than thirty dollars on it- no, really, try it. Spending that much is a sign that you have "bought the game" and rewards you with a membership that allows you to get new in-game currency every day. This is a surprising, but pretty generous move on Nintendo's part- it's certainly less scummy than the blatant payment wall in Pokemon Shuffle.

Pokemon Rumble World features dungeons once more, though they're shorter this time around and run on a cooldown system that can be bypassed as long as you have a number of other dungeons to run around in. challenges make a return with the checkpoint system of Rumble U (though more reasonable this time around), and Streetpass and Spotpass add to the functionality of the game. However, the main currency of the title is PokeDiamonds, which means- yup, you guessed it, everything worthwhile is locked behind those trinkets. There's ways of subverting the mechanic but only for casual players. The more hardcore might fight themselves begging for more. As I said, the game stops you at around thirty dollars of spending and opts to give you a renewable source of PokeDiamonds.

Unfortunately, the "goodbye" mechanics exists as nothing more than a means to get more money off of your excess Pokemon in Rumble World, though there's other mechanics to peak your interest hidden throughout the title. We'll update more on Rumble World as we progress further in the game, but for now, it feels much more like Pokemon Rumble Blast, which may or may not be a good thing.

I still miss co-op.

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