Yes, another Pokémon title has hit retail shelves, and despite the plethora of titles available in the Pokémon franchise, the public’s hunger for Pokémon themed games is inexhaustible. Or at least, that seems to be what Nintendo is banking on with the retail release of Pokémon Rumble World, a freemium title on the Nintendo eShop.
So why would anyone purchase a game they can download for free? In the retail version of Pokémon Rumble World all micro-transactions have been removed, and all content, controlled through an in-game currency system of diamonds, is available up front. There’s only one problem; it’s basically unnecessary.
The game play is simple, with players travelling to various, yet largely indistinguishable locations via balloons (paid for by said diamonds) in order to button mash your way through a small map filled with a theme of Pokémon, collecting a few as you go. At the end of the round there is a boss battle, and while these are particularly larger than your average toy Pokémon, they are really no harder to defeat. Certain challenges in game reward you with diamonds to spend, and while these can be used to speed up how regularly you can play a level, with casual gameplay these are more than enough to unlock the core game content.
You may have noticed I said toy Pokémon. You see in the world of Pokémon Rumble, we don’t actually interact with Pokémon, but rather we are greeted with a world in which wind up toys run wild and free. Presumably this concept is designed to explain away the low detail renderings, and as a free play or WiiWare title this is perfectly acceptable, but for a not-so-budget title this left me wanting. As to how toy Pokémon come to exist in the wild? not to mention the delicate topic of how they wind themselves up on those lonely nights, are perhaps questions best left for when you’re older.
Gotta catch em' all?
Pokémon Rumble World is perhaps the most confusing title I have come across to date. Set in a world where the player must entertain and impress a self-proclaimed royal, showing off all the things they have caught while casually travelling around the world, most of the charm of what makes Pokémon great is largely absent. And while the comparison to making friends with a drag queen during a year abroad may sound tempting, in both cases for most this is the outcome of ill-advised decisions, rather than an experience that one would actively choose to pay for.