(Wii U eShop)

Pokémon Rumble U (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Pokémon Rumble U Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

Wind me up

Nintendo has never been afraid to spin one of its biggest money makers, Pokémon, off into various weird and wonderful directions in between the mainline RPGs that are the franchise's bread and Butterfree. There have been puzzle games, the delightful safari of Pokémon Snap and, perhaps strangest of all, a crossover with Nobunaga's Ambition in Pokémon Conquest.

One of the more prevalent offshoots in recent years, however, is the Pokémon Rumble sub-series. Developed by Ambrella, the Rumble games are based around toy Pokémon, wind up miniatures that have no less desire for battle despite their minuscule stature. They're far more straightforward, arcade-like titles than the core Pokémon games, focusing on frantic real-time battles against dozens of foes simultaneously.

Pokémon Rumble U trades in the more expansive adventure setup found in 3DS's Pokémon Rumble Blast for a series of battle arenas laced with challenges. There's no more traipsing through forests – the action remains on one screen, in one area. It feels like a slight step back in some ways, but it's clear that the approach has been to create a co-operative party game rather than a single player journey.

As in previous Rumble titles, each Pokémon has just one or two moves to its name, each ranked with a number of stars to show off its power. Every Pokémon also has its own numerical power rating; in the early stages you meet characters in the lower hundreds, but very quickly friends and foes alike are soaring way up through the triple digits. Remember, though, that these Pokémon are toys – they cannot evolve, cannot level up, learn moves or abilities or improve in any way. Therefore, the only way to advance is to keep collecting more and more powerful figurines as you go.

The aim of each stage, for the most part, is simple: beat up all enemies. Dumped into an arena, you fight and dodge around dozens of opponents until an almighty boss sweeps in. It's a simple set up: generally you hit A a lot – and B if you've got a second move – and run about trying to find the best vantage points to avoid being swarmed. There are some stages that offer different objectives, however, such as tower defence-like missions. Smash up an enemy toy and there's a chance that a capsule will drop onto the floor; snatching these up unlocks better, stronger figures to thrust forth into your next encounter. All 649 monsters from the first five generations are there to be found.

You can essentially get through by button mashing, provided you don't try to take on too many foes at once, though there is depth to be exploited. Traditional Pokémon type advantages and disadvantages come into play, so if you plan well and take a Fire type up against a force that's predominantly Grass, you'll dominate. Certain moves can also boost your skills, such as Speed, temporarily; characters can be paralysed or become confused, which reverses their controls. Collecting yellow crystals builds up a touch meter, letting you unleash smart bomb-like attacks via the Wii U GamePad touch screen – just tap where you want the strike and watch the fireworks.

Every level also has its own set of optional challenges: beat it with toys of a certain level, for instance, or use a Super Effective move of a specific type. Towards the beginning these are easy, but they should offer some replay value for those who wants to complete 'em all. Touches like this pull Pokémon Rumble U out of overly simplistic territory; it is very easy to play and more suited to younger players, but there are at least some little hooks that might interest non-children.

Our main criticism of the gameplay is how chaotic it gets – it's definitely a certain level of fun, but it's quite common for twenty enemies to get thrown into the arena, followed by another twenty, which leads to a big free-for-all in which it can be tough to keep track of your character. The simple combat, alongside the touch bomb, generally lets you fight your way out and re-establish yourself in short order, but on occasion it can be frustrating to fall in battle because you've been overwhelmed to the point of not seeing yourself.

Rumble U clearly revels in this mania, though – why else would it be a four-player co-operative game? A quad of Pokémaniacs can snatch up Wii Remotes or the Wii U GamePad and work together against the hordes of toy soldiers. It's more fun with multiple players, though if that's not possible you can just as easily play it solo with some added CPU assistants. The end of each level is certainly improved by playing with others, though: once all baddies are beaten and returned to the toy box in disgrace, coins shower down on the field and players race to grab them up. At this point you can turn on each other, attacking to steal coins, and afterwards players are ranked according to how well they did in combat and how much money they snaffled.

Off-TV Play is included, and it feels great to have a bash without the need for the television – it's the kind of simple game that you can get away with playing while doing something else. The quality of the image is a little fuzzier than we'd have hoped on the GamePad, though, but this probably isn't helped by the fact that it isn't the most attractive toy on the shelf even on TV. There are lots of jaggies, but in the heat of battle it makes little difference. You can post from Miiverse in-game too — hitting L and R at the same time captures a screenshot at any time and automatically prompts you to post it on the social network.

The real key Wii U feature of Pokémon Rumble U is the use of Near Field Communication (NFC). This wireless technology is built into every Wii U GamePad and allows you to bring real life objects into the game, Skylanders-style. Rumble U is the first Wii U game to take advantage of this function, and you can now buy tiny, plastic origami-like Pokémon toys that can be scanned into the game. They come in blind bags, though, so you'll have to be lucky to get all of the little cretins.

Simply hold one of the special toys over the GamePad and, as if by wizard magic, the Pokémon pops up on screen faster than you can say Alakazam. NFC characters have significant advantages over the standard in-game monsters in that they can be upgraded with the coins you collect. You can boost their power levels and change their moves and abilities to make them into formidable allies. Cleverly, each toy stores its own statistics and can be used in any copy of Pokémon Rumble U, so it's possible to upgrade a character and then take the toy to a friend's house with all stats intact. Cool as this is, though, fear not – you don't have to buy any of these at all if you don't want, as the game is completely playable without them.


Pokémon Rumble U is straightforward fun that's a far cry away from the main Pokémon titles, but it does pair some key strategic elements of the series with the button bashing – though there are definitely moments where there's too much going on to keep real track of, which does lead to more reliance on the latter than the former. Despite its short length, there's lots to go back to when you consider the hundreds of Pokémon to collect and challenges to beat. It's not an essential Pokémon game by any means, but it's a fairly decent multiplayer game – and if you really want to mess about with Wii U's NFC technology, it's the only option out there right now.

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User Comments (51)



Rei7 said:

Well it seems that I won't be getting this... unless it gets cheap which is a different story.



Volmun said:

got the GAME exclusive SE last night and D-loaded it this morning its ferly fun.. but personally i preferred the other 2 games. I dislike the way this one is all Arena baced gamplay i preferred the adventure lvls in the others.



Geonjaha said:

Too bad. What with the somewhat average retail games so far I'd hoped this would be the best at a lower price point. Guess it's still a series I'll be skipping.



BakaKnight said:

Probably going to download it soon or later.

Not a perfect spin-off of Pokemon, but despite all the obvious faults I always found this serie super addictive ^^



ricklongo said:

The review read more like a 7/10 to me.

Either way, I wasn't planning on getting this. I've got way too much to keep me occupied until the real Pokemon games arrive in october.



JuanitoShet said:

I've only ever played the demo of the original on the Wii, and it's button-mashing is certainly not satisfying. Like said in the article, it IS mindless fun; there's not much to get from this series, since all you do ia move arouns and mash a button.

So these games aren't for everyone. I say you should just stick with the original core Pokémon games instead, unless you can find this for a cheaper price than the standard $60.



shingi_70 said:

This game really needs online play. I think the mystery dungeon series would work better for NFC unlocks.



rjejr said:

Spot on review Mike.

I was annoyed when I first realized they were doing away w/ the area progression but after watching enough trailers I realized this was made for 4 player mayhem. It may not be Powerstone but at least it isn't a side-scroller either.

I'm glad they allow Wiimote play. I just bought my Wii U and hadn't realized how many different controller options I needed to keep track of - Wiimote, Classic, Classic Pro, Wii U Pro. 6 years of Wii ownership and I've never owned a classic, just many many Gamecube controllers. The Wavebird should be in a museum somewhere.

As for the game being short, how long did it take you to catch all 649 Pokemon?

Regarding a few of the comments above, this is only $18 US. The 3DS Pokedex was $15. I know which one will be getting a lot more enjoyment in this house. Plus we actually have TWO $15 Pokedex, 1 for each kid's 3DS, so that's $30, so this looks even better. I trust my kids enough that they'll only buy a couple of Pokeballs each. That's what birthday gifts and Christmas stockings are for.

Looking forward to playing this 1 w/ the kids after school in a few weeks. I know they'll come home excited every day for awhile. (I personally don't care about the game myself, I just like doing fun stuff w/ my kids.)



LunaticPandora said:

I'm quite sad to hear Nintendo isn't bothering to flex their graphical muscles as much as they used too



XCWarrior said:

Currently playing the 3DS game and actually enjoying it a lot. Little kids who enjoy Pokemon should really start with this series, since it gives them the basics and then they can later upgrade to the complexity of the main series.

I would like to give this a try, but at a lower price point. I found Rumble Blast for $10 on clearance, so maybe a sale on the eshop will entice a purchase, but not for now.

I'm sure plenty of others will buy it though.



sinalefa said:

Still have my doubts on this one. Seems a bit pricey, but it may be a riot as a multiplayer game and Smash Bros. is a long time away. When is this coming to the States anyway?



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@XCWarrior actually, no. Pokémon Rumble U is a really bad way to start getting into Pokémon, since most games revolve around turn-based tactical RPG gameplay instead of live-action. This would be best for people who don't like the main series because of the lack of action - and Pokémon fans in general, of course.

Anyway, I never really liked the Rumble series to begin with, so this one doesn't surprise me as being mediocre.



Kohaku said:

I like the 3DS version more than this one but its still a lot of fun for the 15 euro's.



Yrreiht said:

I don't care what people say, I love these games and I'm definitely getting this one too.



ACK said:

I'll be playing this with my kids everyday. We found the levels from the previous games tedious and repetitive. We'll certainly appreciate the change.



SpinelessOyster said:

Was waiting for a review of this so I could decide whether to get this or Ducktales first. Looks like Ducktales it is. But this is Pokemon so it's definitely an eventual buy.



DerpSandwich said:

The idea of figurines that actually retain their stats has an insane amount of potential. Imagine not a silly little download brawler, but some grand Pokemon adventure with much cooler figurines. Imagine that it achieved the same success as Skylanders. Suddenly you'd have people selling leveled up figurines on eBay, trading them like crazy, going nuts for the game. They could buy a figurine and add even more value to it. It's exciting! And it's Pokemon!!!

This seems just a little too simple though. Though the cheapness was probably what they were going for. Testing the waters.



Relias said:

Mindless fun for 15.00 SOLD... (I do hope my favorite is good at kicking some tail.. not that anybody knows who my favorite Pokemon is... it's a complete secret)



Vee_Flames said:

Hmm... Judging from the tone of the review and little criticism, the game looked like it would score 7-8. Ahh, but whatever. I still trust the review. However when I have the chance, I will surely download this.



Undead_terror said:

I wish they stop with the toys, the whole skylanders series, Disney infinite, now this, having to buy toys to get extra characters -_-



Player4 said:

Off topic: Pokémon Conquest 2 needs to happen for the 3DS (or WiiU, I don't care)



XCWarrior said:

@Kaze_Memaryu You need to watch a 8 year old play Pokemon. I have a few weeks ago. They smash through the text, they don't want to do trainer battles because it slows them down. They just want to get Pokemon and move on. Which is exactly what this game is. They still learn about strengths and weakenesses, but on a much more straightforward level.



Luffymcduck said:

Just make that Pokémon Snap 2 instead of this! The first Rumble was more than enough, now there´s three of them!



Kaze_Memaryu said:

you can't generalize that so easily. I know there are kids who want quick progress, but Pokémon simply requires some stamina and patience to be fun. This game still doesn't help you with understanding the tweaks of the weakness system, since the chaotic action on screen makes it seriously hard to see what was effective and what wasn't. Even I couldn't see what happened half of the time.
Also, the sheer flood of Pokés you get after a few hours of training the ones you have is staggering, and that hinders the collector feel the main series and most other spin-offs still maintain to a certain level. Here, you get buried under 6-18 Pokés per fight, and the game doesn't even really care if you got some new ones or collected all Pokés obtainable through one mission.

If anything, Rumble U alienates the Pokémon effect by making it too easy and unrewarding to try and catch'em all.



JustinH said:

The first one on Wii was cheap, mindless, stupid fun. I dug it and I'll definitely get this one too.



XCWarrior said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Well considering most of the adults on here are saying "pass" to Rumble U, who do you think this is geared toward? The younger audience and their ADD attention span. I assure you, you can learn something if you read the menus a bit, which is way less than a main game.

The main games are the best, no doubt. But i can see the value in these games. And I find them fun anyway.



Marioman64 said:

day one buy for me for sure, and on my birthday too! i mean, who doesn't love real-time pokemon battling? and the 3ds one was pure GOLD with it's story mode and actual level design (which the wii version lacked), and ALL pokemon between and including gen 1-5! and only $15? i would pay $60 for this, seriously



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@XCWarrior that's open to interpretation. Of course Rumble U is geared towards children - the collectible NFC figures are a strong kid magnet, after all. But NintendoLife is just one of many communities, so you can't generalize the interest in this game based on comments for it.
I don't say it's unsuited for kids in general, just that it won't really help them understand the rules of the main series - and very few kids want to read manuals nowadays, not even when they're stuck.



Slayer said:

Oh... I'll still keep playing the classic Pokemon Rumble. I never picked up a Wii U because not a lot of people like it... I noticed myself that they gave the Wii a new paint job and put all of the power into the controller.



kinatarai said:

This game is fun to play when your with a group of friends or family. I honestly like the first pokemon rumbl.



Marioman64 said:

@slayer um, derp? no. the Wii U is A LOT more powerful, and the fact that you can play off tv on a controller, basically holding a heavy console's power in your hands, is amazing. btw the 3ds Pokemon Rumble seems to be the best, it's got a full story to it, better level design (or maybe actual level design compared to the Wii version), and it doesn't skip Gens II and III like the Wii one does



Marioman64 said:

@Kaze_Memaryu the types of pokemon you are attacking glow green or red depending on if you were using an effective move or not, and usually levels are designed to have mostly one type, or a type that is super effective against most of the pokemon in it. So you take electric pokemon to the ocean, water pokemon to the volcano, etc.



aaronsullivan said:

@slayer Noticed not a lot of people like it? People you know who have bought it played some games on it? That's the only way you know if you like something or not, I think when we are talking about video games.

New paint job? It's an entirely new system with far superior capabilities and features.

Am I just feeding a troll here or are you just uninformed or perhaps intentionally ignorant of the subject? Maybe this is just your way of asking?



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@Marioman64 whoa, whoa, whoa! I hope you don't think I didn't understand the game? If I gave you that impression, sorry for the confusion.

I played through roughly half the 'story' (up until the Meloetta challenge), and I do understand the game perfectly. But I'm not a kid, and I'm not new to Pokémon either. So I don't quite understand what you're trying to tell me with your post?



Relias said:

@StraTTtheRipper Yes.. you choose your Pokemon.. and you have three CPU partners.. but yes it is a one player game if your talking about Rumble U... been playing it on and off all day.. Very Good Game.. and Very addicting..



Captain_Gonru said:

Maybe I just missed it in the review, but can the NFC figures be used in multiplayer also? A different figure per player, of course. Still a bit on the fence, but this could be a deciding piece of info.



Marioman64 said:

@Captain_Gonru of course. haven't tried it myself but it looks like you scan them in and they stay there until you back out to the menu again, I'd ask on miiverse though
@Kaze_Memaryu I was just saying that it's usually pretty clear on screen whether your attack is super effective or not. got my hands on the game today and it's even more blatant in this one than the other two games, it gives you a big "Super Effective" text and everything



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@Marioman64 Well, a small splash text really doesn't raise much attention. I already knew how to deal with the Pokés I fought against, but the notifications about the attacks' effects are really hard to see among the mess, and even harder to designate with one of the many Pokés you slap.
I didn't have much of a problem with the game itself, but I can see this being very troublesome for younger players.

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