The main series of Pokémon games stretches across five generations and includes a huge number of games as well as 649 Pokémon for you to collect and battle. In parallel to the main games, there also exist a number of spin-off titles that take the Pokémon name and attempt to create a Pokémon experience that is simultaneously familiar, yet entirely different in format.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is one example of a spin-off series which takes a variety of Pokémon creatures and the type-based gameplay mechanics of the main series and works them around a framework of randomised dungeons and grand-scale, turn-based gameplay with properties of the roguelike genre of games. Perhaps the most accessible spin-off title however is Super Pokémon Rumble, a third-person RPG adventure where you get to play the role of hundreds of different types of Pokémon.
Super Pokémon Rumble’s gameplay is based on the battling of enemy Pokémon that are attempting to steal the supply of ‘glowdrops’. The aim is to stop these Pokémon by collecting an army of your own Pokémon creatures for you to use and recycle. The twist is that you’re not using real Pokémon but Pokémon toys that can be swapped and cycled through like generic battle-puppets. Instead of training and levelling up a select few Pokémon like in the main games, you must battle and topple over enemy toy Pokémon in order to add them to your collection. Each Pokémon comes at a predetermined level and already possesses up to two moves. These moves can be swapped and changed but only at central ‘town’ locations through the magic of TM machines or Move-a-majigs.
The battling in Super Pokémon Rumble is what really makes the game stand out from the main series since it is the first Pokémon game where you are free to battle your Pokémon in real time, using the A and X buttons to perform your attacks and the directional pad or joystick to move them around. You simply have to try and dodge enemy attacks whilst directing yours towards them. The type matchups of Pokémon also play a big part in the battles, with fire Pokémon having an advantage over Steel and Water Pokémon being strong against fire types and so on. You simply have to move through each area entering into different kinds of discrete levels such as beaches, caves, and tree-tops, battling and collecting Pokémon as you go to use them in the free-for-all arena battles at the end of each stage.
The game’s graphics are relatively basic and don’t really possess the distinctive style that many Pokémon fans will be used to having played the wonderfully-animated main series of games. It is the first spin-off Pokémon game to be designed for the 3DS, however, and the three-dimensional gameplay has somewhat of a novelty value.
The gameplay itself can sometimes get a little repetitive and often feels like brainless button-bashing, but the type-based mechanics and the different status attacks keep things fresh and do require you to think a little before simply rushing head-first into en encounter. Though the sentiment of the main Pokémon games is lost in midst of your hundreds of collected Pokémon (it all comes down to keeping the strong ones and throwing away the weak in the end), Super Pokemon Rumble is still extremely addictive to attempt to amass a collection of strong and powerful Pokémon, and the real-time battle mechanics are something you don’t get with other Pokémon titles.