The first Wii U game to offer real-world figures that can magically be transported into the game through the Wii U GamePad.
So, the big deal about Pokémon Rumble U, which is available for the Wii U through the eShop, is not so much that the game has players choose little Pokémon toys that have come to life to fight in an arena against other toy Pokémon. Neither is it the whole “collect ‘em all” mentality that kicks in nice and early and will have the player struggling to complete all of the different arenas and challenges to collect the 600+ different Pokémon toys in the game. The big deal is the inclusion of NFC figures that appear in the game.
Taking inspiration from Skylanders and the upcoming Disney Infinity, Pokémon Rumble U has a range of figures that can be purchased and then brought to life in the game through the as yet unused NFC sensor on the Wii U GamePad. The figures are exclusive to GAME I believe, are priced at £3.99 each and come sealed so the buyer has no idea which of the 18 available figures they will be getting.
The figures are used by holding them over the clearly marked NFC sensor on the Wii U GamePad, after which they will magically appear as usable Pokémon in the players in-game collection. What makes these Pokémon toys different from the others that have been found in the game, or through the passwords which are released on the internet, is that these imported Pokémon can be upgraded using the coins found in the game, making them more powerful and thus more useful. The information about any upgrades is stored within the figure, ensuring that they will remain upgraded even if taken to a friends house and used in their game.
While the prospect of collecting real-world Pokémon toys may excite the collector’s among us, what about the actual game?
Well, anyone who has played Super Pokémon Rumble on the 3DS may know what to expect. However, this Wii U version is cut down so the player simply moves from one arena to the next whilst experiencing a very simple story. The player will take a Pokémon into an arena and defeat waves of other Pokémon until a boss turns up. Defeat that and then move on to the next arena. In reality, that is all the game has to offer.
Battling itself is a button-mashing affair, with the Pokémon having only one or two moves available, assigned to the A or B button. Occasionally, objects will appear or be dropped in the arena, such as healing candy or a key that makes the player a giant Pokémon toy for a short while. There are also sometimes small twists to the way the game is played, such as having to defend a fort or deal with damaging panels on the floor, but the result generally means just more careful button-mashing.
The player begins with only a couple of Pokémon toys in their collection, to be used in the arenas. But as they progress, they will gather Pokéballs that add more Pokémon to the roster, with each progressive arena offering more powerful Pokémon. Players will likely find themselves using the most powerful Pokémon they have for each successive arena, but the game does use the “rock/paper/scissors” method with the different types of Pokémon, and some objectives in the arenas may require pulling a super effective attack, so it is worth taking note of the type of Pokémon used.
There are also coins gathered in the game which can be used to upgrade the real-world toy Pokémon or purchase a continue if an arena gets the better of the player. There are also energy crystals that can be found and used in an area attack activated by tapping on the GamePad screen. It should also be pointed out that the game can be played on either the TV or the GamePad, which is handy.
As pointed out, there are more than 600 Pokémon to collect in the game, and getting them all will be no mean feat. Whilst they come fairly easily, finding the specific ones to complete a collection after the game has been completed will be tough. Some of the Pokémon have been held back from the game and can only be unlocked through passwords that will be released through social media and on the Internet by Nintendo themselves. There are two so far, both of which are quite powerful and, if acquired berfore starting the game, will likely be used for the majority of the arenas as they give the player an advantage.
The game itself is very simplistic and really doesn’t hold a lot of challenge, especially if the player has already used a password. But the real-world figures are a nice touch, and the drive to collect all of the Pokémon is strong right from the start. However, without the compelling gameplay, Pokémon Rumble U will likely only appeal to the younger audience. The game is simple fun, but just not enough for the more discerning gamer.