These creatures that we call Pokémon have taken the world over with memorabilia of all shapes and kinds. So it would only be fitting that a Pokémon game would be created starring Pokémon toys. Thus, Pokémon Rumble Blast has come into existence. As the sequel to WiiWare’s Pokémon Rumble, it marks the first retail release for the fighting playthings. Unfortunately, these toys are better off kept in the toy box.
You start with a low-power level Pikachu. Within minutes, you'll be fighting other Pokémon and recruiting some of the defeated foes into your team, at which point you’ll switch out Pikachu and forget he ever exists. The game is all about using Pokémon of higher power levels, so you’ll never stick to one Pokémon for very long. Power level is the most influential determinant for how much damage your attacks cause, while type advantages are secondary. All Pokémon have a main attack assigned to the A button and some will also have a second move trigged by the B button. Some of these moves increase stats, which can lead to a little bit of strategy, but, ultimately, you can keep hitting A to clear through wave after wave of enemies and it will be sufficient. Switching between Pokémon is done by opening the menu with X and selecting a new one. Each area ends with a boss battle with a more powerful foe. That sounds great, but each one of them has very similar attack sets, despite being completely different from each other. While it’s fun to lay the smackdown on opposing Pokémon in real-time, there isn’t nearly enough depth to keep it interesting throughout the course of the game, even for a Pokémon fan.
Rumble Blast sports visuals that are average at best. The backgrounds in each world are very basic, and certain areas are reused wholesale in different worlds. The Pokémon themselves are a bit rough around the edges and whimsical, but that’s intentional, since they're all wind-up toys. The 3D adds a nice touch to the experience by prominently displaying where area attacks might hit (such as a yellow glow indicating where the thunderbolts will strike). It also gives the effect of Pokémon you collect jumping out of the top screen and into the bottom screen where your team roster is located. Having 3D on or off won’t affect your ability to play Rumble Blast though, as it’s capable of being played by a blind Pachirisu.
If you can stomach the unchanging gameplay throughout Rumble Blast, you’ll find a decent-length game. Pokémon fanatics will enjoy that every single Pokémon is represented in game and may act on their urge to catch ‘em all. But since adding Pokémon to the team is as simple as random chance after defeating them, there’s very little incentive to participate in this collect-a-thon.
Pokémon Rumble Blast is Pokémon’s first full game on the 3DS, but it's unable to capture the magic that makes the main series so addicting. Diehard Pokémon fanatics will certainly be able to milk some value out of it, but for everyone else, the $40 price tag is just too much to ask for such a static, mediocre experience.