Pokémon Rumble World was originally released on the 3DS eShop last year. It received a physical release earlier this year, doing away with the microtransactions seen in its digital counterpart. It follows the story of your Mii after the King tasks him or her with collecting more toy Pokémon than the evil wizard who has shown up to make a mockery of him. That’s about as far as the story goes. As you collect more toy Pokémon, the King hands out quests and the wizard keeps trying to undermine the King, but there’s nothing significant there.
Battle is trivial…I’d even call it boring. I couldn’t play for more than 30 or 40 minutes before I had to take a break just to do something else. You enter a level and press A or B to execute a move. You do this until they disappear. If you’re lucky, they’ll flop on to the ground as a harmless version of themselves that you can pick up and then use to fight for you. I never had an issue defeating any of the opponents I came up against; regular foes would go down in one or two hits, and bosses only took a bit longer but they never put up much of a fight.
You can swap between captured toy Pokémon as much as you like when you’re traversing an area, though the new one takes a few seconds to wind up before they can enter the battlefield. There’s a lot of space to hold your Pokémon; I currently have a total of 2500 spots, and there’s still a fair bit for me to unlock.
The attack mapped to the A button will automatically activate if you walk towards an opponent within range, so you don’t even need to use the buttons. This made it difficult to use the move mapped to the B button, as the game would just auto-attack whenever I got near anything, and I couldn’t find a way to turn it off. Your critters will not level up or evolve; new moves are gained at a facility in town, which allows you to add any attack previously encountered to any of your Pokémon for a fee. It also allows you to swap the attacks mapped to the A and B buttons. After you unlock the Special Stone Shop in town, you can acquire the stones required for Pokémon to Mega Evolve. Mega Evolutions can be activated at any time in an area at a tap of the touch screen.
You get to each level via hot-air balloons. You’ll pick a land to travel to, which will then begin a roulette to select which area you end up in. After a few hours, you’ll gain the ability to slow the roulette right down so the level you end up in isn’t random. The game will helpfully display how many Pokémon you’ve yet to capture in each area as the roulette passes over it. Each land has a theme, generally named after the different generations of games, which was a nice touch. You’ll have to wait in real time before these balloons can be inflated again, or choose to skip that time with Poké Diamonds.
Poké Diamonds, in the eShop version, are bought with real-world money. In the retail version of Pokémon Rumble World, they’re still present, but the game just gives you a whole heap to start with. It came across as lazy that they wouldn’t even bother to remove the microtransaction items, but functionally, it was fine. You’ll also have access to the Diamond Digger, which supplies you with more diamonds every day, so you won’t run out. All these time mechanics make the game strict on your 3DS clock. If you alter it at all, you won’t be able to get any Poké Diamonds that day.
Poké Diamonds can also be used to purchase more balloons and buffs at the in-game store. You can also get frames, backgrounds, clothes and more to alter your profile, some of which can also be purchased with in-game currency. Your profile can be shared with other players via StreetPass or Spotpass. The other characters you get via these methods can be used to take you back to specific areas, bypassing the roulette. This would have been a more useful feature in the eShop version of the game, as it meant you wouldn’t have needed to wait for balloons to re-inflate to visit an area again.
The game’s art style is simplistic and dull, to match the rest of the game. I was done with the game after around a dozen hours, though I would have happily stopped before then. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself quite attached to a few of the numbers on Pokémon Rumble World’s soundtrack; the developers came through to make this part of the aesthetic somewhat enjoyable.
Pokémon Rumble World is a game lacking any real complexity. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it’s… boring. There’s no story to speak of, and you can get through all of your fights with just the control stick. The game doesn’t give you all that much to do either, outside of collecting all the Pokémon – which would be more fun to do in a mainline Pokémon game. This might be a good game for children looking to get into the Pokémon series or gaming as a whole, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people, and definitely not to seasoned gamers.