Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pokemon Rumble World (3DS eShop) Review

Hey everyone! Hope your Thursday treated you well. I have a brand-new review to share, continuing this month of Nintendo 3DS reviews. Coming next week are two retail release reviews for games that came out earlier in the year for the 3DS. For the time being, though, let's focus our attention on a free-to-play game of all things with Pokemon Rumble World.

Hear the rumblings of a free-to-play game done right.

Back in 1999, critics of Pokemon called it nothing but a fad. More than 15 years later, this supposed "fad" is still going strong, seeing new game releases on a steady basis and plenty of spin-off titles apart from the main series of games. Pokemon Rumble is one of those, and it originated as a Wii game on Nintendo's WiiWare digital service. After a retail Nintendo 3DS release and a more battle royale-focused Wii U eShop release, a new Pokemon Rumble game hits the 3DS eShop, but with a twist.

Pokemon Rumble World is another game that has Nintendo experimenting with the free-to-play model that is most prevalent with mobile gaming. However, this experiment is one that feels like a steal for the player, and it only requires additional funds from the most hardcore and fanatical of the game's players. It all adds up to a game that although simple to play and lacking in great depth, makes up for it with addicting gameplay and features.

You can travel without a Pokemon helper, so
the king lends you his Pikachu to start off with.
There are two currencies in Pokemon Rumble World: game money and Pokediamonds. Game money is used to purchase new outfits for your Mii, background images for taking photos of your Mii, and various trees that are planted within the hub area of the game, which grant attack, defense, speed, and other types of bonuses to your Pokemon in battle. Meanwhile, Pokediamonds are used for a myriad of things: purchasing hot air balloons to venture to new dungeons where a healthy heaping of new Pokemon species can be fought and captured, special houses that increase the maximum amount of Pokemon you can hold in your collection, and using them as a means to skip the time you have to wait until you can reuse a hot air balloon.

Pokediamonds are the currency that is the most important in Pokemon Rumble World. At the beginning of the game, it's quite easy to earn enough to purchase new hot air balloons, but as you continue to buy new ones and gain ranks for collecting more and more species of Pokemon, the balloons tend to cost a lot more Pokediamonds. For example, early balloons only cost about 10 Pokediamonds, which is easily attainable by simply playing the game. However, if you like the game enough that you want to catch them all, then you better be ready to spend upwards of 100 Pokediamonds to buy one hot air balloon and collect as many Pokediamonds as possible.

Capture more species of Pokemon to increase your rank,
allowing you more things to buy with in-game money.
Pokediamonds are handed out in a number of ways. The major way is through completing daily tasks that the king of the Pokemon kingdom you're in asks you to do. These include participating in Pokemon Battle Royales, where you have a set amount of seconds to defeat all of the Pokemon in an arena setting; as well as tasks like protecting a Mii character for the duration of the level. Not only can you earn Pokediamonds from simply successfully completing the king's tasks, but each task has a checklist of sub-goals to try to check off, such as beating the level without changing Pokemon, or using a Pokemon type that is weak against the enemy forces.

It's a Treecko and Sceptile hootenanny! Yee-haw!
In a sense, you can theoretically keep playing each new challenge the king dishes out to you each day to earn Pokediamonds in an albeit very slow fashion. However, to help speed up the process of gaining new hot air balloons, which again, take you to new dungeons with new Pokemon varieties to capture, players are able to purchase Pokediamonds with real world money. The great thing about this, if the word "great" should even be used in a free-to-play sense, is that Nintendo has it capped where you can only spend up to thirty dollars total on the game. Basically, if you spend the full thirty, you're cut off from any further purchases, and that's quite alright because you'll have more than enough diamonds to see all of the content Pokemon Rumble World has to offer. Personally, I've spent all but five dollars on Pokediamonds and have had enough to purchase a multitude of hot air balloons, expanding my selection of dungeons I can go to.

As stated, hot air balloons take you to a plethora of locations where you can battle and collect Pokemon. Each hot air balloon takes you to a region where one of a handful of locations is chosen by a roulette. Each location has its own set of native Pokemon you'll encounter, as well as a boss Pokemon at the end to battle. Sometimes when you're using your best luck to select a location in the roulette, a time period known as "Fever" will occur. This makes it so locations have a higher chance of capturing Pokemon, as well as changing the boss Pokemon you'll face to a rarer species.

Face Pokemon both common and legendary in Rumble World.
The actual gameplay of Pokemon Rumble World should be easy to jump right into, whether you're a longtime Pokemon Rumble fan or completely new to this spin-off series' style. You play as a toy Pokemon, going through linear stages, fighting masses of Pokemon. You have upwards of two moves to use, one with the A button and one with the B button. Defeated Pokemon drop money, but they can also sometimes shrink and fall onto the battlefield, allowing you to pick them up and essentially "capture" them, having them join your side. It's totally random whether a Pokemon defeated will become able to be captured, but there is one way to ensure it. However, this is also random-- having the Pokemon wobble from an attack. If you defeat it while it's in its wobbling state, it will automatically, 100% of the time be able to get captured.

Poor Andy. You invested all your money in the dot-com
bubble and now you're wearing a barrel...
Occasionally, other Mii characters seen through SpotPass or StreetPass will show up in a dungeon, usually requiring your help to save them from a band of Pokemon. Doing so will have them follow you around, giving you the occasional stat bonus as long as their HP doesn't get wiped out in a skirmish. Through SpotPass and StreetPass, you can earn Pokediamonds, one for every five Miis met, and some larger bonuses for satisfying other conditions.

Help a Mii out in battle, and he or she will help you out in return!
The free-to-play model rears its head into things after a hot air balloon has been used. The game will have a timer that counts down the next time you can utilize that same balloon. With the payment of a Pokediamond or two, you can bypass this and use the balloon all over again without waiting. You can even spend a Pokediamond to get the exact location you want without dealing with the roulette's luck-based results.

Pokemon Rumble World is a very satisfying game which has plenty of enjoyable, albeit simplistic battling and capturing of Pokemon. The limit on what you can spend means Nintendo isn't using dirty tactics to suck money from its most vulnerable market, kids. Even if you don't spend a dime on Pokediamonds, the experience is fulfilling enough that you don't feel like you're really missing out by not spending cash on the game. Regardless, those that do are probably the ones that enjoy the game so much that it's worth it, and indeed I did find it worth spending money on if only to further enjoy the game. Pokemon Rumble World could have been an experiment gone quite nasty for Nintendo, but in the end, it turns out to have a mighty satisfying end result.

[SPC Says: A-]

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