It’s been about half a decade since a Digimon game has crash landed on American soil, but Digimon All-Star Rumble is finally here to reintroduce gamers to the battling monsters in a four-player brawler for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
When tackling a game like Digimon All-Star Rumble, I think it’s important to keep the target audience in mind. Though I grew up in an era when the Digital Monsters were first gaining popularity, it’s hard to imagine that 30-somethings were the main demographic being targeted for a lighthearted fighting game like this one. But just because a game is intended for a younger crowd doesn’t mean that it gets a fee pass, either.
Digimon All-Star Rumble falls somewhere in the middle. At a cheaper price point (40 bucks), it is unsurprisingly lacking in depth of content. However, what’s up for grabs is pretty fun to dive into for an hour here and there and, for the younger crowd, will probably keep them coming back for more far after adult fans have grown weary of the mostly mindless gameplay.
The digital world is finally at peace, but that means that all of these monsters who used to live for the thrill of battle are growing bored with the never-ending tranquility. They decide to hold a tournament to relive the thrill of battle, eventually discovering that a new sinister plot is actually brewing in the background.
As I said, the game’s offerings are pretty slim, meaning you’ve only got a few modes to pick from including Story, Practice and Battle. The story mode will take you about two hours to complete and, other than a few short bits of dialogue that explain each character’s motivations for joining the tournament, the levels are the exact same. Each stage includes a small area to explore with a handful of baddies to bash, followed by a one-on-one showdown between your chosen character and another Digimon. That all leads to a final battle that puts a unique spin on the typical boss showdown and, if you’re a particularly dedicated player, you’ll want to go through this jibba-jabba for each character in order to trigger a special unlock.
Other than breaking up the fights with some light exploration, the Story mode is where you’ll collect Digicards and coins that let you buy even more Digicards. These cards offer up mild stat boosts and status effect when they’re triggered in battle, with each player’s equipped card determining who wins in the match-up. Trigger a successful Digicard battle, for instance, and your opponent may suddenly be stunned.
Otherwise, those who get drawn into the game will likely spend a lot of time in the Battle mode, which offers up 10 levels pulled from various Digimon incarnations and 12 selectable players including the likes of Shoutmon, Veemon, Agumon, etc. The characters control with slight variations on one another, so the limited roster is actually just about right for this kind of game. The levels, though, are pretty generic, offering mostly wide platforms and a couple of dynamic environmental contraptions (like conveyer belts of geysers) to make things slightly more interesting. There are also the occasionally spawning items you can pick up, which let you zap your enemies with a bolt of lightning, surround yourself in a tornado or launch a slow-moving missile.
Thankfully, the battle system is at least decently competent. Each character has a weak, strong and ranged attack, which can all be strung together to create combos. More advanced players will also dive into charged attacks, as well as guards, cancels and aerial battles. It’s not the most precise brawler, but it certainly gets the job done. There’s also enough depth here to keep it from being completely mindless, but easy enough for youngsters to just hammer away on. It’s no Smash Bros., but neither is it the utterly lazy engine many similar games boast. You can even Digivolve for a short period if you store up enough energy, opening up a whole new move set for your character and a special ultra move if you keep pouring on the hurt.
Battles are also broken down into a few different types for free-for-all or team play, including stock competitions, struggles to see who can dish out the most damage and a flag battle that tasks players with trying to hold on to a banner the longest.
On top of there being a pretty light amount of content, there’s also a couple of obnoxious difficulty spikes in the late portion of the story mode, the camera can get a bit wonky at times and there’s no online play to speak of, which I find to be an utterly baffling omission. Online play is a staple of modern fighting games, especially those that let up to four players duke it out at once. As is, you’re going to be relying on couch play exclusively if you want to fight anyone other than the computer, which is a real bummer.
Coming full circle here, I think the younger crowd and maybe even Digimon diehards are going to get some decent mileage out of All-Star Rumble. You won’t be overwhelmed with content and the arenas lack any real character, but at least the combat is fast, frantic and mostly fun.
This review based on a PS3 copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Prope, Ltd.
Publisher: Bandai Namco