Digimon All-Star Rumble Review

If you read this site often, you know I'm the Pokemon fan who was recently turned on to the Digimon anime through a series of DVD reviews. Since Digimon games have recently acquired a poor track record when it comes to English localization (the "core" games for PSP and Vita are STILL Japan only), I was excited to run through a Digimon game as a new fan of the property. Unfortunately, Digimon: All-Star Rumble on PS3 is the game that showed up in my mailbox. This half-hearted Smash Bros. rip off is not the game fans want or deserve, it is a painful slog through a pointless series of battles starring Digimon you may have once liked in other games or on the show. I'd tell you to wait for a proper Digimon game to release in English, but no one knows when that will be - if ever - and this game doesn't help chances.

We have to start with the game's setup, as it is a decent preview of how annoying and uninspired the rest of the game that follows will be. The world is at peace and the Digimon don't have much going on, so they decide to have a tournament to see who is strongest. Let's pause there. I don't know about you, but when I'm out with friends and we get bored, my first thought has never been "Hey! Let's kick the crap out of each other!" Anyway, the setup for the entire game is essentially that the characters are bored, so they decide to fight. I don't know why Shang Tsung decided to set up the Mortal Kombat tournament, but I'm pretty sure he had better motivation than there not being anything good on TV.

Digimon All-Star Rumble screenshot 2

With that as motivation, you are thrown into story mode. You've only got four Digimon to choose from, with eight more being unlockable as you beat the story multiple times. Each character follows their own path plot-wise, but all have the same basic outcome: perceived entertainment. Through this mode, you'll have two main styles of play: some light 3D platforming and 1 on 1 bouts. The platforming is, in my opinion, the more interesting bit, but it is so plain and generic that it really doesn't inspire any emotions either way. You move down a set path, breaking barrels and fighting lesser Digimon, eventually ending up in a battle against a more popular Digimon. It takes about an hour to finish a single character's story, but it feels a lot longer than that - not exactly high praise. By the time I'd unlocked all the characters I had just over 12 hours of playtime under my belt, a perfect companion to the feeling of never wanting to play All-Star Rumble again.

My real problem isn't with the story or the playable characters (or lack thereof) or the limited game length, it is with the gameplay itself. Every move you make is sluggish and feels like your Digimon is waist-deep in molasses. It doesn't offend in the platforming bits if you can get adjusted, but during the fighting it becomes a huge problem. The 1 on 1 battles feel like 2D fights with 3D crammed in for no reason. Movement of your Digimon in the 3D plain is clunky and obnoxious, mostly because you have to wait for an animation to finish before the game will register another action. Swiping to the side or back of your opponent usually doesn't make a difference as they have more than enough time to counter before your attack begins, so you end up with a Smash Bros./Power Stone rip off in which your attacks don't always work and your character is all but spelling out what they will do next. The Digivolution mechanic (basically mega evolution as seen in recent Pokemon games) adds a little bit of spice, but nowhere near enough to save this game from itself.

Digimon All-Star Rumble screenshot 6

My last negative on All-Star Rumble isn't a negative for me at all, but most will be completely outraged. There is no online play to speak of whatsoever. The only reason I ever play multiplayer, online or off, is for reviews; I'm a die-hard single player guy. But I'm in the minority. I completely understand why the lack of online play, especially in a game like this, is considered a cardinal sin. Don't feel too bad about it, though; the game isn't fun, nuanced or long enough to build a strong player base, so even if it did have online it probably wouldn't be easy to find another person to duke it out with. There are a few local multiplayer modes, but all are either boring or worse versions of other modes in better games. Again, good luck finding another person interested enough not only to come over, but also willing to play this blah fighting game.

Digi-fans: All-Star Rumble is not the game you were hoping for. It would be easier to learn Japanese and import one of the core Digimon handheld titles than it would be to squeeze any real fun out of this sloppy mess of a game. Save your money and play Smash Bros. (or Power Stone) again.

Final Rating: 42%. This is not the Digimon game that you've been waiting for.


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