Pocket Rumble (Switch eShop) Review
The last fighting game I played was Mortal Kombat Trilogy on Nintendo 64. I wasn’t very good at it, but I was evenly matched against my brother, and I could beat the Arcade mode on easy. So, as I said, I’m not very good a fighting games and it was the late ’90s when I tried to be any good at one. Pocket Rumble was given to me as my next assignment and I gotta say, I was a tad concerned going into it. I didn’t want my lack of experience or skill to be a factor in judging the game for what it was. Then I had an idea! What if I just try to play the game without reading about it or doing any of the training? Maybe I was a Pocket Rumble prodigy. Hey, stop laughing! I could be, for all you know. And knowing is what you’re about to do.
I booted up the game (that’s a rather antiquated term now isn’t it?) and was greeted with a chippy tune I could nod my head to, along with a big pink menu. Just like the Eric Carmen song, I was all by myself. Sure, I didn’t want to be all by myself, but there was nobody home. Naturally, I chose solo gameplay and was presented with a new, more yellowish menu. There was an Arcade, VS CPU, Career, Training and Lessons mode to choose from. Testing out my prodigal possibility I picked Arcade. After all, I had beaten the Mortal Kombat Arcade mode on easy a few times.
The screen quickly changed to one of that similar to most fighter select screens and a funky beat began to drop. A Brady Bunch-esque, tic-tac-toe board of eight fighters and a random spot taking up the centre Hollywood Square were the options. A dude named Parker quickly stood out to me. He was all black and white and looked as if he’d just stepped out of a film noir movie and was ready to kick some butt. Upon making my selection I was then given the option to customise my fighter by changing the colour of his clothes. Nice touch! I gave him a red suit. I was immediately dropped into a fight against a character dressed in yellow, who threw a giant yellow ball of flame at me knocking me back. To answer the low toned, growling scream that singer Jonathan Davis, from the band Korn quizzically asks the listener at the start of the song Blind, from the group’s self-titled album, no, I was not ready.
My initial instinct was to button-mash, a tactic that works in many situations in life. Unfortunately for yours truly, life has a funny way of needing a little more finesse sometimes. Round one was a wash. My red-suited fight-y man ate dirt. Well, as much dirt there might have been in the science classroom being used as a place to fight in. If it’s anything like my high school, then there was probably a lot of dirt. As round two was getting ready to begin I figured I’d use some tactics here. I’d try out some moves from Mortal Kombat! Who knows? Maybe some of the button combos could be the same? BACK BACK PUNCH! Nope. DOWN FORWARD PUNCH! Nope. FORWARD DOWN BLOCK! Hey wait a second, how do I block? That was all I could remember. I was no better off than in round one. My opponent smacked me down and the grew some weird Patronus style antlers and levitated in victory. I realised I had no idea what the buttons were and during round three, in which I also lost (no surprises there), I tried to work out what the buttons did. Not that I had long to experiment. Death came swiftly that day.
I was no Prodigy. MYTH BUSTED!
Next, I figured I would check out the options screen. There wasn’t much going on here. Some audio setup and controls options, along with GGPO Delay, which Google tells me is something used to delay the game by a certain number of frames to help eliminate lag. This might mean something to you, but I have no idea. I’m sure it’s a welcome option within the fighting community. There was also a slider to change the scanline opacity. This left me feeling somewhat conflicted to touch, as the scanlines give the game a nice classic console feel, but it’s a damn shame to have them covering up the beautiful visuals and characters. Either way, the game looks slick.
It was time to learn how to play. Now that video game manuals are a relic of the past, and digital-only games don’t exist in the physical world anyway, hence making the point of printed materials moot, I jumped into the lessons portion of the game. Before learning any character specific moves you need to do the standard lessons by selecting the random character square. These teachings are really quite handy and explain exactly what to do. This is when I discovered that all characters use the same basic set of button combinations to perform moves. There’s the basic high and low attacks with mid-air and crouching variants, specials which change depending on whether you hold or tap buttons or directions. It even teaches you some basic combos, which I felt like I’d never been capable to pull off in a real-world situation. I must admit, now that I was through the lessons I felt like I stood somewhat of a chance.
I went back into arcade mode, feeling the power within, a power that had been handed down to me by the masters. The fight began. I pulled off the very fireball move my opponent used on me the first time we faced each other. “HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES!” I exclaimed quite loudly. He was, however, hardly phased by my display of power. So little in fact that he proceeded to beat me silly. It was a lesson of humility. My training was not complete. I left arcade mode and started the VS CPU game mode. At least here you can choose your opponent and difficulty level, represented by either a happy face, a teenage eye-roll face or an angry devil face. Happy was the way to go. Maybe if he whom I challenged was happy, he’d feel bad beating me up so much. It turns out this was not the case. Sure, I got quite a few more hits in but I still lost round one. Before round two could get underway my Pro controller battery depleted and I moved on to the Joy-con in the Joy-con grip option. Round two was very different.
It was almost as if I lost all my memory of the lessons I had taken part in. You see, you have the option to use either the D-pad or joystick and my preference was the D-pad. Being that the Joy-con doesn’t have a traditional D-Pad, it wasn’t as easy to play. I was also comfortable using the Pro Controller’s joystick, but, once again, it wasn’t the same on the Joy-con. Like most things, perhaps I was used to the bigger, sturdier type. I continued to play with both the Joy-con and Pro-controllers, but still, to this very day, feel more competent with the latter.
After a few days of getting comfortable with the game, and being able to win against the CPU I decided it was multiplayer time. Versus is my preferred game mode. Naturally being in the same room as someone and knowing their skill level and being able to trash talk makes it the most fun. You know, the whole social aspect. Online is alright too. My favourite part is when the message pops up and says “You have a ping of 350”. It’s like the game is running in slow motion. I actually play better in those matches.
Pocket Rumble is a fun fighting game that has easy to learn controls, but can be hard to master for someone not familiar with fighting games. The visuals are top notch with a fun roster and as a whole, feels like it’s straight from a retro console, yet made for current gen.
Chucklefish, Cardboard Robot Games
- Solid control system
- Beautiful graphics, with or without scanlines
- Fun variety of fighters
- Not entry level skilled friendly
- A bit too challenging for me
- Playing alone is a little boring