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Digimon All-Star Rumble

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: PROPE, Ltd.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Fighting/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Digimon All-Star Rumble takes you to various locations in the digital world such as forests, factories, and castles. Some locations are more impressive than others, while some look like they are straight out of a gameís alpha stage. Thereís a lack of decent texture in some parts that does the game no favors. Itís colorful, but not much more.

The characters look better, rendered with more than enough detail to be recognizable. Some of the special moves are especially entertaining as well, and do a good job of selling the various Digimon's cool factor.

The music is fitting enough, not really getting in the way, but not becoming aggravating either. Some stages had a strong Sonic Adventure (Sega Dreamcast) feel to the music. Rather than make me nostalgic, it just made me a little sad, since this is hardly a game that holds a candle to that one. The stages that arenít lighthearted and cartoony sounding are usually filled with your average rock music that would be at home in a WWF match on network TV.


Gameplay:

The story goes in Digimon All-Star Rumble that the Digimon have finally achieved peace. But at what price? The Digimon languish in the boredom of peace, unable to improve themselves or Digivolve. The only way to Digivolve is to battle, and with no battle, they remain shells of themselves. Truly no Digimon could be asked to endure this hell, so they do the only sane thing and start a tournament called the Digital Monster Evolution Tournament so they can begin fighting each other. So maybe Iím exaggerating here. Ok, yes, Iím definitely embellishing with my dark sense of humor here, but the story basically amounts to as much. The Digimon get bored, they set up the tournament to train, and you go from there. Thereís a slight twist at the end, but I wonít give it away.

Youíll get to eventually unlock and play as 12 different Digimon (familiar to fans of the series) including Gatoman, Gabumon, Gomamon, Dorulumon, and Shoutmon. For those not familiar with the series, I canít describe any overall theme to these creatures. They range from dinosaur to seal to kitten in appearance. Their first form in no way indicates what their final form will look like either. The cute kitty Gatoman turns into a six-winged, female battle angel, for example.

In Story Mode, youíll battle it out with lesser enemies until you reach another Digimon, which starts a tournament battle. Several battle modes can then ensue, including a Flag battle, Survival battle, or Point battle, to name a few. These are all pretty straightforward, with Survival battle being kind of a Deathmatch, and Flag battle being a competition to see who can hold on to the flag for the longest.

DigiCards can be found along the way, which can be equipped to strengthen your offense and defense skills. These are pretty simple, with cards helping you gain health back, or gain powerful offensive abilities during a fight, for example. You can save up to buy new cards as well, giving players a reason to repeat the Story Mode several times. Beating the game will also unlock a Switch Digivolve option for your character (and sometimes multiple characters). This ability allows you to evolve into a Legendary Digimon instead of your normal evolution. These Legendaries are usually a lot cooler looking than the others, though I canít say they handle much differently.

A Training Mode is available as well, which is just what it sounds like. You can beat up on a target character in order to practice moves. The other option is Battle Mode, which allows you to play with up to 4 people in a versus arena style battle.


Difficulty:

Digimon All-Star Rumble has no selectable difficulty levels, so youíre stuck with what youíve got. It starts off easy enough, with the types of enemies you could button-mash forever against. But if you donít pick up some blocking and combo tactics soon, youíll be hung out to dry by some of the gameís later enemies.

And thatís most of the gameís difficulty right there. With a lack of a dodge, youíll have to plan your moves a second or two in advance. If you can endure the tedium, most battles are easy. Itís just difficult to make yourself fight the same enemies with exactly the same tactics over and over again. Sure, some Digimon have different movesets, but it all feels about the same in the end.

Of course, that all turns on its head in the final stages of each Digimonís Story Mode. Itís not only an endurance competition at that point, but they throw together several enemies who use varying tactics against you. Itís hard to split them up and deal with them individually, as thereís little A.I., and enemies just sort of bump into each other in random ways. All this really means is itís even more of an endurance battle, as you often have to wait for an opportunity to randomly present itself.


Game Mechanics:

Digimon All-Star Rumble is a little silly in its controls, though it does manage to function in the end. You can jump and run in all directions in this 3D battle arena, but the physics donít feel quite realistic. For example, if you jump in one direction, you can cancel it out and push your Digimon right back where they jumped off. Itís amusing for a while, but this lack of restraint bleeds into the battle system as well. You can launch a fireball in any direction, and often youíll think youíre turned when youíre still facing away from your opponent. Youíll spend a lot of time just turning around to face your opponent again and again. Blocking is slow, and dodging is pretty much nonexistent. Itís, again, nothing you canít get used to in order to get through the game, but itís not a polished work by far.

Exploits are easy to find, but these are again due to a lack of polish more than anything else. For example, I won a match by exploiting the lack of enemy A.I.; I would move left and right, just far enough not to trigger the enemy to jump down from a higher platform. I could basically run the clock out this way. Thatís probably the worst of it, but there were plenty of other examples.

I always get a little sad when these are the types of games that are often released for younger age groups. I donít remember having much patience with games that required such tedious repetition to advance. Though you can have fun with this game, itís a little hard to find through all the problems and the repetition. If youíve got a Digimon fan who just adores the characters more than anything, this game might give you your moneyís worth. If youíre a more seasoned gamer, itís going to be hard to find the patience to love this game, but it is possible.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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