Pokémon Rumble Review
Pokémon Rumble box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Ambrella 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 16, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

It's been over a year since Pokémon Ranch released on WiiWare, so it's a safe bet starved fans will appreciate the latest side dish Nintendo has served up for the platform. Pokémon Rumble doesn't offer traditional RPG gameplay like the main series of Pokémon games, but it does contain most of the key elements Pokémon aficionados find so alluring.

Pokémon Rumble screenshot

Like Nintendo's other mammoth license, Mario, there's never been a heavy requirement for story in a Pokémon game. Keeping with tradition, the player is given merely the basics about the Pokémon toys they'll be controlling, along with a goal of becoming the Battle Royale champion. Oddly enough, it's all the excuse you'll need to progress through the game, since collecting 'em all is still the focus here.

Yup, you're not actually controlling Pokémon, but rather wind-up Pokémon toys. You'll begin the game by taking control of a Rattata, and by battling through a series of dungeons, you'll befriend new Pokémon toys, as well as earn Poké money. There are four ranked areas, each with six dungeons to explore. The actual gameplay is simple and repetitive, yet there's some hidden depth here that gives the game a surprising amount of weight.

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The actual gameplay in Pokémon Rumble is sort of a simplified hybrid of Diablo and a typical beat'em-up - a crawl and brawl, if you will. Combat is simple, yet the variety of Poké powers helps to keep things interesting as you stroll along straightforward paths, fighting horde after horde of enemy Pokémon toys. As you defeat the other Pokémon, they turn into Poké money, which you can then spend on various things back at the terminal.

Pokémon Rumble screenshot

Occasionally, you'll knock a Pokémon toy out, and this will allow you to walk up to it and befriend it, adding it to your roster of playable Pokémon toys. It isn't difficult to see where Nintendo's going with all this. The entire process of entering a dungeon, collecting Poké money, befriending Pokémon, defeating a boss, and then heading back to the terminal to buy new powers and/or recruit new toys to your roster is every bit as addictive as any diehard Pokémon fan could hope for.

The dungeons are very plain, and that's probably the biggest issue with the game. Though the combat is repetitive, collecting Poké money, befriending new Pokémon toys, and the variety of attacks are all very satisfying. But secret items and areas hidden within each dungeon would have been nice, and multiple paths, along with generally more interesting areas to explore, would have added so much to the adventure. There are only six dungeon types total in the game. Each time you move up to a new rank, there are new Pokémon to encounter, but for the most part, there's not much new to see.

Pokémon Rumble screenshot

Once you've completed all six dungeons for a particular ranked area - or befriend a powerful enough Pokémon - you can head into the Battle Royale. You're pitted against a slew of other toys at once, and you'll have to defeat specified Pokémon before time runs out. Win the competition, and you move on to the next rank. Upon completing the game, you'll unlock an Advanced mode, which offers the same gameplay and dungeons, but with new Pokémon and a stiffer challenge.

Screenshots / Images
Pokémon Rumble screenshot - click to enlarge Pokémon Rumble screenshot - click to enlarge Pokémon Rumble screenshot - click to enlarge Pokémon Rumble screenshot - click to enlarge

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