|Release: October 24, 2011|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Pokémon is a franchise with an amazing power to reinvent itself. Over the years, we've had Pokémon dungeon crawlers, Pokémon action games, Pokémon puzzle games, and even a Pokémon photo-taking game. I suppose it was time for the inevitable 3D action platformer. Pokémon Rumble Blast is inspired by a lesser-known WiiWare title that involved fighting toy Pokémon. If you missed it though, don't feel too bad; the idea didn't really translate into something that felt like a full game. For that, we had to wait for the release of Pokémon Rumble Blast for the 3DS.
The premise of the game is somewhat ridiculous, but this is the world of Pokémon we're talking about; after you've Trozei'd and formed circles of friendship with these creatures, nothing is out of the question. Apparently, somewhere in the Poké-verse, there is a magic toy store filled with wind-up Pokémon toys that like to battle each other. Although these Pokémon look like super-cute versions of their normal selves, they are actually quite different from their RPG counterparts. They can't level up, have static power levels, and can attack with up to two basic moves that can be used infinitely. This certainly isn't the Pokémon game that you're used to. And that can be a good and a bad thing.
Let's look at the positives first. Pokémon Rumble Blast is undeniably fun. The pace is fast, you don't ever have to worry about grinding, and mowing through levels is a breeze. The game's format is extremely simple, having you "explore" two or three areas to find Pokémon of a suitable power level and type before you go to a championship area. This championship area pits you against many toy Pokémon, who all attack each other at once. If you are the last one standing, you win.
The format is undoubtedly fun, and hammering on your 3DS' buttons to obliterate the competition makes this a great action game. However, there are some serious issues that may hamper the enjoyment a bit. One of the big issues here is repetition. You don't notice it at first, but as the levels wear on, going through every stage, exploring the same environments, and then battling to proceed in the linear world gets a little tiresome after awhile.
Another unexpected problem occurs with your Pokémon roster. As you collect more toy Pokémon to use in each upcoming battle, you'll find that the ones you'd collected previously will become increasingly useless. And while the game doesn't force you to get rid of your Pokémon, letting them go at your home town's release center is pretty much the only thing you can do with your lower-level toy Pokémon once you beat each area's specific battle arena.
This really feels odd, as the whole collection aspect has been integral to the Pokémon series for so long, yet is downplayed in this title. Though you do get some money for tossing out your old Pokémon, it just feels so wrong to let them go, especially when you've worked so hard to get them. The game even encourages you to "catch 'em all" within a given area, but then once you do, you have to get rid of them all anyway, so the point seems a little bit moot.