Pokémon Rumble pits hundreds of “toy pokémon” in a battle royale against each other to determine the champion. Each pokémon can learn two moves, mapped to the 1 and 2 buttons (the Classic Controller is also supported). Using only those two moves per ‘mon, you are challenged to clear six stages filled with other ‘mon and one giant boss. The action is real-time, sort of like a side-scrolling beat-’em-up but with a top-down view.
Some of the enemies you KO will fall down and be added to your team when you pick them up, giving you additional options; the ones that don’t will leave behind cash that is used in the various terminals in the hub worlds to recruit new team members, teach new moves (randomly selected from moves typically available via TM in the games), or whatever. You can also release lower-powered and/or undesired team members for additional cash, and sometimes for surprise bonuses as well. You can switch ‘mon at any point during the stage, although there is a delay as your Wonder Key winds up the replacement. If three of your pokémon faint during a stage, you lose and are kicked back to the hub world (although you do keep anything you had collected up to that point).
You keep clearing stages and acquiring new toy pokémon until you’ve collected one with a power level over the threshold for the current Battle Royale, at which point that gate is opened. Battle Royales are wild timed melees filled with pokémon. Beating enemies here will give you additional time, and eventually you will have to take on the toughest bosses around in order to clear it, claim your reward, and move on to the next level. You can only switch out in a Battle Royale when your current pokémon faints, so make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job here!
At first the game just uses the 151 pokémon of the original Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games (Mew is actually freely available via password from www.pokemonrumble.com), with Mewtwo obviously being the grand champion. Defeating him will unlock advanced mode, which features pokémon from the current generation (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum). I don’t know if there’s a level beyond that yet, but even if there isn’t I still got my 1500 Wii Points’ worth out of this game. There’s even a free demo available in the Wii Shop if you want to try before you buy (it ends as soon as you qualify for the first Battle Royale).
ESRB: E10 for Mild Cartoon Violence. The usual pokémon cockfighting is a bit more pronounced now that it’s in real-time, but it’s still very abstract.
Pros: Fast-playing action
Cons: No actual leveling up; you simply replace weaker pokémon with stronger ones as you catch them and discard the rest
Plays like: An arcadey beat-’em-up or shooter (bordering on “bullet hell” at times).