Pokemon is a series that comprises a multitude of titles, the majority of which are actually spin-offs. These spin-offs tend to vary wildly in quality--some of them are exceptionally well done, while others are mediocre, and a few of them are just downright bad. Pokemon Rumble Blast is a follow-up to a rather obscure 2009 WiiWare game, and at first, it seems like it might offer up some mindless fun. Unfortunately, the "fun" part quickly evaporates after a short amount of play, revealing that a game that should be a "blast" is just mindless tedium.
The brief windup before the most boring one-toy massacre you could possibly imagine.
Rumble Blast, like the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series before it, is based in a world entirely separate from the central Pokemon setting. In this world, Pokemon are sentient tin windup toys. It's a cute idea, and the squat, angular toy Pokemon have a distinct style and charm while still being recognizable. These toys seem to live for combat and spend most of their existence either fighting or preparing to fight in big battles. There's a flimsy story where some malevolent force is trying to steal the healing glowdrops from the various settlements in the world for nefarious purposes, but it's unlikely to hold your interest.
To move the story along, you recruit strong Pokemon to your cause from various locations and then enter competitions and storm enemy strongholds. After you finish these tasks, you unlock a new area with new recruiting locations and a new arena or enemy base. There are a handful of hub towns where you can heal, buy additional skills, and access collection data and multiplayer features, but the core cycle of the game's progression doesn't change much.
The key to success in Pokemon Rumble Blast is recruiting strong Pokemon for your team. Each area in the game has a few locations (meadow, forest, cave, tower, beach, and so on) where specific Pokemon dwell, and you need to visit as many of these locations as possible--some perhaps more than once--to get a sufficient quality and variety of Pokemon. These locations consist of a series of straightforward overhead-view maps where you take on gaggles of Pokemon at once, attempting to knock out as many as possible without getting KO'd yourself. Defeating these foes rewards you with either money or a new member for your team. Each Pokemon you recruit is distinct in its own way, with differing stats and abilities (which will likely remain unchanged for the majority of the game). Even if you recruit two of the same Pokemon, they are likely to have different attacks and strengths. At the end of these linear levels is a big boss Pokemon with a lot of health and strong attacks. Beating these bosses yields both copious amounts of cash and the potential to recruit a high-powered bruiser to your crew. After amassing a sufficiently strong Pokemon army, you can then move on to special story-progressing arenas with slight combat variations like battle royale and team battle. This probably doesn't sound too bad so far, and to its credit, Pokemon Rumble Blast does a good job of replicating the enjoyable collection element of the core Pokemon games.
Team battles deliver the additional annoyance of the CPU stupidly controlling your partners.