If Near Field Technology, or NFC as the kids call it these days, is the way of the future for gaming, well, count me in. Just don't expect my wallet to be as enthusiastic about the path I'm heading down.
When I first heard about this game, I knew I wanted it. You see, when Nintendo first revealed that the Wii U GamePad would include NFC technology, with the ability to read things with NFC in it directly from the revolutionary controller itself, the very first thing I thought of was how amazing a Pokemon game with NFC figurines (a la Skylanders) would be. Trust me, I have witnesses who can attest to this bold prediction of mine.
I mean think about it - a Pokemon game which would sell gangbusters anyway, combined with the hot new phase of collecting figurines, and Nintendo could practically make money. The theme song specifically explains the tagline and motto of not only the games, but the franchise itself: "Gotta collect them all!" Now imagine that motto with a game like Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but in the Pokemon universe, and it's a match made in heaven. So again, when this game was first announced, I was already invested before it hit the shelves.
And then the unthinkable happened. I had second thoughts about what I was going to actually be investing in. I worried that maybe I had hit my limit on what I could conceivably and reasonably invest in. I worried that I was ready to collect them all for all the wrong reasons. Lastly, but maybe more importantly, I balked at the notion that GameStop had exclusive rights, as I despise the notion of being pigeonholed into shopping somewhere by force if I want a particular thing, especially with something like this.
Well, I'm proud to say that my will is weak and I have no self control, as I went down to GameStop and picked up Pokemon Rumble U the first day it was available. Actually, I didn't buy the real game there, just the download code, which was a first for me. Why would someone buy a download code from a store instead of just downloading it from the console's online store? I guess credit card fear is the biggest reason, but for me, it seems completely redundant. However, this time I'm glad I did.
With the purchase of the code, I got a free figurine, which normally run $3.99 each. It wasn't just any random figurine, but a special edition Kyurem, either black or white. That part was random. I ended up getting the very last one they had available to give away, which if you're wondering, I got the black one. I thought this was an awesome gesture, but I wasn't done there. Oh no. I didn't go all the way down to the store to buy the download code for a free figure. That was just dumb luck. No, I went down there to buy the figures, of course.
And this is where Nintendo went a completely different direction then their NFC successors, and decided to make each purchase a blind one. Yes, that's right. Each character you buy comes in a sealed Pokeball, which you can't see in to, thus not knowing what figurine you're actually buying. These things are small and cute, and the four dollar price point seems fair, but collecting them all is not an easy thing to do when you can't see what you are buying. This is similar to the Power Discs that Disney Infinity implemented, but those things are just accessories to the characters to the game. You can actually see the characters you buy, because they don't want you to collect multiple ones. Again, Nintendo bucks the trend set before them to do their own thing. No surprise, if you ask me.
Even though their are only 18 figurines to collect, you will eventually end up with duplicates of Pokemon. Because of this, I didn't jump head first into the collecting of figures, and only decided to buy three on my initial store run. After playing the game, and experiencing the thrill of opening up Pokeballs blindly, I want more. But first, let me at least explain the game.
It's an arena-combat based game, where you battle digitally-created toy Pokemon in confined battle arenas, with bosses finishing each level. You can select one Pokemon of your choice, along with three AI controlled teammates, from a team of Pokemon you collect from picking up Pokeballs in combat, along with the NFC characters you swipe across the GamePad to send them into the game. Each creature has their own level and XP meter, along with different attacks and abilities. Each level has specific challenges to go after, although you don't know what they are until after you beat the level first, which provided replayability for the completionist in us all. There isn't much skill involved at all, just attacking and moving around until the battle is won. Of course, it gets harder as you go, but the game isn't designed to be super difficult, just super fun. And super addicting.
And it does a great job at both of those.
So much in fact, I can't wait to make my way back to GameStop and buy some more Pokeballs. Do I have a problem? Yes, I probably do, but hey, at least I enjoy my problem and it doesn't hurt anyone else. Besides, it makes for some great blog posts, don't you think?
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