Pokemon experts may snicker. They may laugh at me the way they laugh at a pale blogger caught next to a flexible cos-player. But can they deny that Pokemon games are confusing to newcomers? And that simplicity might help?
I've always been able to remember that water Pokemon are good against Fire, but I'm not sure how leaf, rock and electric Pokemon fit in. I got confused by the talent show side games, the berry-mixing and so many other features that have been added, Madden-style, to a series that gets ever more complex.
Because of my state of perpetual Pokemon confusion, I did not mind the simplicity of Pokemon Rumble. It is a Gauntlet-esque four-player top-down action game that was on display at Nintendo's booth in Seattle at the Penny Arcade Expo. One to four players, connected locally (no Wi-Fi), can take direct control of one Pokemon at a time battling through caves, plains, forests and other geographically distinct maps.. The goal is to bash enemies into oblivion, collecting new Pokemon along the way. Each player can switch their Pokemon in or out of battle, which is intended for those who do know whether rock Pokemon should or shouldn't be used against leaf Pokemon. I, on the other hand, am a guy who decided to use a Magikarp in Pokemon Rumble and learned the hard why that I couldn't have had a worse idea.
Each Pokemon has two moves mapped to the Wii Remote's 1 and 2 buttons. They can learn other moves to replace their defaults. All you need to do to excel in this game, it seemed, is to button-mash through the game's dungeons, annihilate flocks of other Pokemon the way a lawnmower annihilates grass.
When you take out a new kind of Pokemon enemy, it is added to your roster. The trailer above shows the action, which doesn't seem to get too complex. At the end of a few rooms' worth of Pokemon-battering, you reach a boss and have to rumble with it too. In the level I played, the boss was a Rhydon, which I was notified is a Drill type Pokemon. Meaning I.... shouldn't bring a cork Pokemon to fight it?
Pokemon Rumble appears to have been designed to be the most fun for four players who hack through the game's handful of worlds together. I am interested in playing it for a different benefit than co-op Pokemoning. I might use this simple game to train me, to enhance my knowledge of Pokemon. Maybe if I mix and match my Pokemon enough in this game I can finally ascertain which Pokemon are good for what. I do now that Magikarp is useless.
A Nintendo rep told me that about 280 of the established Pokemon will be in the game. That's a lot of Pokemon for me to learn. With Pokemon Rumble, those of us who get tell a Rapdiashes from a Voltorb may finally have the help we need. More hardcore Pokemon fans might find this game thin.
Pokemon Rumble slated for WiiWare release later this year.