Pokémon Rumble World is a free-to-start hack and slash beat ’em up spinoff for Nintendo 3DS. It’s part of the Pokémon Rumble series of games and, as far as I understand it, is closely related to the standalone 3DS title Pokémon Rumble Blast but with freemium mechanics built in. As this is my first Pokémon Rumble game, I’ll be doing my best to explain it as such. I’d also like to note upfront that I put many hours into the game, but did not spend any money on it nor did I end up completing it. We’ll get to why as you read on, so let’s get to it.
There’s a flimsy plot to try and get you to care about playing through Pokémon Rumble World. You’re mainly doing quests for the king of the land while playing as your Mii. There’s really not much of a story. It’s just a premise to frame quests and progression. The basic gameplay consists of using Pokémon to battle through areas split into multiple stages. You may have one or two attacks assigned to the A and B buttons. You use the attacks to attack the other Pokémon, all of which are supposed to be toys for… some reason. Type effectiveness does apply, as well as dual typing, with the main alteration being that there are no type immunities. These are treated as not very effective instead. Some attacks are close-range. Some are ranged attacks. They can be simple animations or ones that make you move a certain way when executing. They can be thin, wide, or even have an area of effect. Some moves are used to inflict status effects or change status conditions. You use the attacks to reduce enemy HP to zero and try to avoid them doing the same to you. If your Pokémon faints you’ll have to option of spending diamonds to continue or else you’ll have to take the loss. You can switch your Pokémon out to any others you have in your inventory during the stages to help avoid your currently selected Pokémon from fainting, but this will take a few seconds to execute which will leave you vulnerable and if you are attacked during the transition it will be canceled. Defeated Pokémon will drop coins or sometimes defeated Pokémon will fall onto the ground for you to collect, which is how you capture them throughout the game. You’ll find barrels along the way that can be broken to reveal coins or potions that can heal the active Pokémon. Occasionally you’ll find other players’ Mii characters on the battlefield. Rarely they will be hiding in barrels or standing around and will usually drop you a potion or perhaps a diamond if you’re lucky. Most of the time, though, these Miis are being attacked by Pokémon. If you defeat their attackers before the Mii runs out of HP they will thank you, give you either coins or a diamond, and then follow you for the rest of the area periodically dispensing powerups for you to use such at potions, X Attacks, X Speeds, or X Defenses. The final stage of each area contains a large boss Pokémon with lots of HP. Generally they will have a few attacks, some invulnerability time at certain intervals, and an endless supply of multiple minion Pokémon surrounding them. If you manage to defeat the boss you’ll clear the area and fly back to the main hub with your spoils.
Back in the hub area you’ll be able spend your coins and diamonds in the shop. The coins are mostly used to buy clothing items for your Mii and a few permanent modifiers for your speed, attack, and defense. The other items and powerups will cost you diamonds. These include things like higher level upgrades to the amount of Pokémon you can carry, permanent coin multipliers, and most importantly new hot air balloons. Each hot air balloon yields a selection of areas chosen at random when you select it from the hub world and each area has a set assortment of possible Pokémon you will encounter. There’s also a cooldown timer before you can ride a balloon again. If you have too many Pokémon in your inventory then you will need to either expand your inventory space or say goodbye to enough of them to go back under the number cap. Each Pokémon you say goodbye to will leave some coins behind. The more species of Pokémon you capture, the higher your rank goes up. As you rank up you unlock new shop items, raise the overall power of subsequent Pokémon you encounter, and unlock more requests from the king. The king’s requests vary as you go along and require you to complete the current one before being given the chance at the next. Sometimes it’s an arena battle against many opponents. Other times it’s an escort missions escorting a Mii character. Sometimes you’ll need to protect someone or something from enemies. Often times you’ll be under a time limit and will have to pick up clocks from fallen enemies and broken obstacles to keep your timer up. If you complete the mission you’ll get some diamonds and unlock the ability to access the next request, but you’ll only be able to attempt the next request if your rank is high enough. You can also try to complete the extra mission objectives for even more diamonds and once you complete a request you can try it again on hard mode for even more diamonds.
There are also a few other buildings in the main area that unlock over time as you progress. One of the buildings allows you to use coins or diamonds to teach your Pokémon specific moves from a list available. Another allows you to spend diamonds to get power stones or mega stones that power up your Pokémon significantly out on the field. There are also more buildings, but I didn’t manage to play long enough to unlock the others to speak about them. The one other way to collect diamonds is to sign in daily and connect to the internet to find random Miis. 3 of them show up each day for free and cost play tokens after that, which are acquired by putting your 3DS to sleep and walking with it in your pocket. You get a diamond for every 5 Miis that visit. Presumably there is a final request from the king to mark the end of the story of the game and ultimately collecting every species in the game would be for full completion.
There are certainly some things to like about Pokémon Rumble World. It’s free yet also gives you plenty to do each time you play. The cooldowns for the early balloons are so short that it’s easy to step away for a few minutes and then already be able to go again. Plus once you get more, which is easy with the early game amassing of diamonds, you can spend even more time in the game without needing to stop. The mechanics are simple but an interesting take on the Pokémon mechanics. Choosing attacks is not also taking their execution into consideration rather than just power and other stats. Maybe your strongest move isn’t the easiest to pull off. Maybe you want to use something with a wider spread to take out groups or a longer range to fight from a safe distance. Maybe you want a fast move to stay on an enemy or a pinpoint precise move to focus only certain targets. I also really appreciate how they use all the type AND dual typing in this game. Some of the other free to play Pokémon games I’ve played simplify them to a single type to make it easier to deal with so it’s nice to see the depth of type effectiveness represented nearly in full.
However, I have many issues with the game. After a while it gets fairly repetitive. Go on the balloons, defeat whatever Pokémon show up in each stage of the area, fight the boss, rinse and repeat. Especially once you start hitting roadblocks. Eventually you’ll need a higher rank to get stronger Pokémon to complete a request. Or you’ll need more diamonds to get another balloon because you’ve completed all the ones you have currently. Or you’ll need more Pokémon to increase your rank to unlock the next request. And that also leads to the incredibly circular nature of the game. Fight Pokémon to capture Pokémon to increase your rank so you can complete more requests to get more diamonds to spend on more balloons so you can fight more Pokémon to capture more Pokémon and so on. Even when it’s a smooth cycle without roadblocks, the novelty wears off quickly and leaves you with a lackluster experience that barely changes. It certainly doesn’t change enough to keep you invested and having fun. It’s even to the point where I can’t see it being very engaging even WITHOUT the freemium mechanics slowing you down. It’s just so simple and repetitive that it doesn’t really stay enjoyable. There’s also no RPG element to it, instead relying on capturing new Pokémon rather than being able to level ones you already have to make them stronger. If it were shorter or had more mechanics building off of what is there then it might be something good. As is… it’s just a neat novelty that turns into a repetitive chore.
Pokémon Rumble World ultimately just isn’t really worth your time. It’s a nice distraction if you’ve just recently obtained a 3DS and want something to play while you wait to get more substantial games. It’s just not worth completing. It’s too repetitive and tiresome. Why spend money on a freemium game when there’s already basically a retail version for you to buy in the form of Pokémon Rumble Blast? If you’re not a hardcore fan and aren’t curious… just give this one a pass. Life is too short.