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October 25, 2013

Pokémon Rumble

(Sorry for posting this so late today; I had a lot of university homework and other real-life stuff to do that were, I have to admit, more important for my future as a whole than it would be to post this review. Anyway, here it is.)

Poké-Month is almost over, and we're getting closer to Halloween! As you noticed, I'm now in full Halloween mode, with a horror film review once in a while. However, the most horrifying thing ever isn't horror movies; it's endless repetitions.

Okay, just joking. But endless repetitions is a major problem in some games. Repeating the same thing, often the same tedious – or boring – task multiple times, is sometimes a factor on whether you'll replay a game or not. Likewise, a story aspect that gets repeated endlessly becomes boring after a while. Don't you just wish Peach would FINALLY put some protection around her castle to prevent Bowser from getting in or kidnapping her? Aren't you tired that Wile E. Coyote never, ever catches the Road Runner? Have Homer's stupid acts become annoying at best, insulting at worst, now that there's over 500 episodes of The Simpsons? Repetition is a problem that can hit anything that has run for a long time and whose formula has changed never enough to become interesting again. However, cases like this are much rarer inside a single game than it is as a problem that hits the franchise as a whole.

Today's game is this. The same concept gets repeated not once, not twice, not thrice, but a total of nine times. Each time with different critters. And yes, I know I'm talking about Pokémon, the series that has followed a similar formula in its main series ever since the first games. But Pokémon Rumble is not a main series game; it's a minigame spread out into a large game. Enter with me into the wonderful “world” of Pokémon Rumble and see if it should really be sold 1500 Wii Points.

When the game is started, we are introduced to the mini-figurines used in this game. Er, excuse me? You don't play with real Pokémon in this game. Not like real Pokémon exist anyway, right? I picture Prof. Oak telling the player about Pokémon Rumble, and how those small figurines are sold everywhere. They are miniature robots that you can wind up with an item called a Wonder Key. While you 're being told this, an example is shown to you with a miniature Rattata. Aw, it's so cute! All the Pokémon in this game are chibi versions of themselves, and while it does crank up the cuteness factor (which is already pretty high on many Pokémon, mind you), it doesn't make some of the more aggressive Pokémon any cuter. Maybe just a little.

Uh, anyway... The little Rattata (with a Power Level of 19) ends up on a board labeled “Rank C”. There are doors located north of the Rattata, and they're slightly open, so Rattata can squeeze itself into the entrance. Welcome to the Battle Royale, the main event of Pokémon Rumble! In there, lots of Pokémon duke it out, and the goal is to be the only one remaining. However, almost all the Pokémon in there have a Power Level of about 100, so your puny Rattata loses in a matter of seconds.

Your Rattata flies back into the Rank C room, defeated. It gets wound up. Around him there are six circles; on one of them there's a small trampoline. Clearly, you have to head there, so your Rattata jumps on the trampoline...

There's a horrible lack of pictures for this game...
And ends up in an area named the Silent Forest. Hm, this is cute. You are given some instructions about beating Pokémon in this zone. You'll go through five or six “rooms”, in which you'll meet a bunch of Pokémon that you can defeat, but you don't have to. However, it's highly recommended, as your Rattata is weak. How does capturing work in this game? Simple! Sometimes, when an enemy Pokémon is defeated, it will turn into a tiny version of itself, which is the way it is before it was wound up. ALL the Pokémon in this game are wind-ups. Also, if you knock a Pokémon senseless, if you deplete its Life Bar to 0 while it is in this state, it has 100% chance of returning to pre-wound up form, allowing you to add it to your team.

Since it's Pokémon, it means most attacks are available. The type matchups are almost all there, too (as an example, a Water attack will be stronger against a Fire-type Pokémon, just like in the game). Only exception is the types that would do absolutely nothing to others; that one aspect is removed. No matter which Pokémon you own, its damaging move can hit anything. Also, your Pokémon can get many of the status effects from the games: Poisoned, asleep, burned are just a few examples.

As for how the game is played, you control your little wind-up toy through the “rooms” with the directional pad, and you attack with 2 on the Wiimote (or 1 if you have two attacks, which most Pokémon have as the game progresses). Simple enough. When you want to switch to another Pokémon, you press A and select the other Pokémon through a list.

At the end of Rank C's Silent Forest, you face against four mini Bulbasaur... and a GIANT Ivysaur. Okay, it's just a wind-up toy that got "overwound", but it's still one. That means that if you're lucky, you can catch it too. However, in all the cases, you have no choice other than defeating it, as the way to the exit gets blocked until the giant wind-up Pokémon has been defeated. Once Ivysaur is beaten, it drops a large sum of cash (though the sums get bigger as you progress through the game), and you can leave.

Once you're back in Rank C's hub, trampolines appear on all five other circles. What are the six zones? Silent Forest, Windy Prairie, Rocky Cave, Fiery Furnace, Bright Beach and Eternal Tower. In each of those zones, you have a bigger chance of meeting Pokémon of a certain type; as an example, the Cave zone has more Rock and Ground-type Pokémon. The Tower has more Poison and Ghost-type Pokémon. The Furnace is also a factory, so it has Fire-type and Electric-type Pokémon. And I'm sure to be forgetting some. The species of Pokémon that you meet in each of those zones never changes, and you can actually use this to your advantage; indeed, you can know exactly where to find the Pokémon you're missing, and play that level repeatedly until you finally catch it. All 150 Pokémon of the First Generation can be found in this game, except Mew that you can unlock with a code, and Mewtwo that needs a more complex manipulation.

When you have 5 or more of a Pokémon, you can sell 5 of them in a blue booth at the bottom of all the Zones, and this will give you a ticket that you can use in another nearby booth. That ticket will give you for free one of the evolution of the Pokémon species you just released. As an example, if you release 5 Bulbasaur, you get an Ivysaur ticket. If you release 5 of the Pokémon's final evolution, you instead get the basic form of that Pokémon.

So, you go through the six zones until you catch a Pokémon whose Power Level is of 100 or more. When you do that, the doors to the Battle Royale open again, and you can enter. In each Battle Royale, you have to defeat a number of Pokémon. You have a time limit, and each time you defeat a Pokémon in the Battle Royale, you gain a timer that adds 5 seconds to your time. After most Pokémon have been defeated, you can meet that Rank's bosses. There's a number of bosses in each Battle Royale, but the minimum is 3. The bosses have a lot of HP compared to all the others, but they're still rather easy to fight. Also, when you're in the many zones you can switch Pokémon as much as you want. However, in Battle Royale you cannot switch out a Pokémon until it has fainted, and you are restricted to a maximum of three Pokémon.

When you defeat that Rank's Battle Royale, you unlock a trampoline that leads to... Rank B! Eeyup. Here we go again! Once more, you must go through the six zones until you meet a Pokémon (whose level is higher, I think 200 or 300). After which, once more, you unlock that Rank's Battle Royale. All the Pokémon you meet in Rank B's zones are stronger, both the evolved forms of Pokémon from Rank C's zones as well as new Pokémon species that weren't in Rank C. When you beat Rank B's Battle Royale, you unlock Rank A.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat in Rank A. Should be over, right? Well, no! For, once you beat that Battle Royale, you unlock Rank S! There, the Pokémon are very strong. However, if you managed to catch all the Pokémon of the preceding Ranks, you should just have to catch the few remaining ones from this Rank. Also, when you unlock the Battle Royale, guess who that Rank's boss is? None other than Mewtwo! Once Mewtwo has been defeated, roll the credits.

Oh wait, once you return to playing the game, you find out that you unlocked Advanced Mode... In which there's still Ranks C, B, A and S... Except all the Pokémon's Power Levels are even higher... and there's Gen 4 Pokémon all around. You can still find Gen 1 Pokémon in the Advanced Mode's Ranks and zones, but you probably have most of them, so you will probably concentrate on the Gen 4 Pokémon.

By the way, there's no Gen 2 or Gen 3 Pokémon in this game. Yep, we go directly from Gen 1 to Gen 4, and everything between the two is simply... gone. As a result, many Pokémon, both from Gen 1 and 4 who had other forms from the two removed Gens are suddenly... well, weird. As an example, There's no Magby and no Elekid, but you can find Electivire and Magmortar. Budew and Roserade are there, but not Roselia; and when you release 5 Budew, you get a Roserade ticket directly. Aipom, Misdreavus, Murkrow, Chimecho, Sudowoodo, Mantine, Sneasel, Togepi and Togetic, Yanma, Gligar, Swinub and Piloswine, Porygon 2, the whole Ralts line (minus Gallade, which you can catch in here)... Those are some of the main examples of Pokémon you can't find in this game, causing many species to become orphaned. This is a big downside to the game, although I admit that having all four first Generations in the game would be too much. Still, it's very weird, and it'll take some time getting used to.

Once again, there's the ranks C, B, A and S. This time, what are the bosses in Rank S? None other than Dialga, Palkia and Giratina! ...Oh, and Mewtwo comes back too. Holy cow, this is gonna be a hard fight. However, nothing's impossible, so you can win anyway.

Once you've won, guess what? YOU UNLOCK ANOTHER MODE! This one is called EX, and basically, in each zone of this mode you can find absolutely every single species there was in that zone in the eight preceding ranks. Also, they all have a Power Level very high, the strongest Pokémon you can catch in there have over 2200 in Power Level. (Sorry, no Over 9000 joke can be used. My apologies.) Oh, you can also catch Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf in the EX Mode's zones. Awesome. Also, that mode's Battle Royale pits you against all the Battle Royales, all put on a rather equal level. That's the game's biggest battle challenge, so have fun! You can also go to the preceding Ranks in both Normal and Advanced Mode with your almighty Pokémon, and demolish all the opponents in the earlier Ranks!

A few of the Legendary Pokémon can only be caught thanks to codes to be input in the red booth (though, the list of codes is on Serebii). That includes some forms, like Shaymin's Sky Forme. Other Legendary Pokémon, and other special Pokémon, can only be caught by releasing a set of five different species. Once again, you can't know the combinations unless you look them up on places like Serebii or Gamefaqs.

Final thoughts on this game? Truth be told, I'm one of the gamers who doesn't mind when repetition is constant. Besides, in this game it's done rather well, offering different species of Pokémon at every Rank, which is pretty fun. Especially trying to catch them all. Many Pokémon are awfully common, others are horribly rare. Geez, just like the main series games! You can also get Pokémon with special abilities that make battling – or collecting – easier, and that's neat.

Yep, the sequel has all the Pokémon! See the little Tepig?
Collecting all the Pokémon can be extremely long, but it is extremely fun. If you're a big fan of Pokémon, you know you're going to spend a few days trying to get them all. After all, there's 256 Pokémon to find in this game! As I said earlier, a big downside is that many Pokémon families are shortened because of the Pokémon that were introduced in Gens 2 and 3, which feels really strange. It's kind of annoying that you can't tell in the game which Pokémon to release in order to get the Legendary Pokémon Diala, Palkia and/or Giratina, and you'll absolutely need the help of the websites mentioned earlier. However, the sequel to this game corrected this by having Pokémon from all six generations. Pokémon Rumble Blast corrects that "missing Pokémon" problem, awesome!

Is it worth paying 15 bucks? Hard to tell. That does make it more expensive than a Nintendo 64 game on the Virtual Console, which are just 1000 Wii Points, or 10 dollars. Maybe Pokémon Rumble is sold at a price a bit too expensive. However, I do say “a bit”, as I'd see it being sold 1000, or even 1200 Wii Points instead. If this game had had more than two Gens, I would have gladly paid 1500 Wii Points.

You're probably wondering what the review will be next week. Well... There won't be a review. Instead, it'll be Planned All Along's Halloween Special. Tune in for a very special message. I hope you'll enjoy it. Also, it'll be posted on Thursday, seeing as Halloween is Thursday next week.