Developer: Cardboard Robot Games
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Remember NEO GEO? Too young for that? Well if you open the Nintendo eShop, you’ll see that the entire store is filled with these little 8 bit 2D games. Not really but there is a ton to choose from, I’m not complaining though. Enter Pocket Rumble, the cute little 2D fighter packed with NEO-GEO esque graphics. Cardboard Robot Games planned on dropping this indie back at launch in March of 2017, however through a couple of setbacks and kickstarter funds this game was delayed a considerable amount of time. At launch, the eShop only had maybe one page of games so this would have been a perfect window for this game to launch. Now the store has so much to offer and Pocket Rumble has since been forgotten. Last week’s announcement of it’s release was a pleasant surprise as I have been eyeing this game for some time and at the low price of $9,99 US, I purchased it quickly.
At the game’s core, you choose from a few different modes to learn or fight with a choice of 8 unique characters in best of 5 2D fight to the finish. This game only has two button inputs, A or B. Very simple controls. High and low attacks standing or jumping. Specials are pretty easy as well, simply hold diagonal in either direction and press A or B will result in a characters special move. While each character has the same button inputs, like Super Smash Bros, you have to think and have a strategy to master each unique characters combos. There is no move set like a Tekken or Street Fighter but you do have certain hitboxes and priority moves much like Pokken Tourney. Another comparison to Pokken is that it has the rock, paper, scissors format where B counters A, grab counters block, block counters attack. Sounds simpler but each fight gets heated and once you read your opponent and master a character then it’s on. As mentioned, each character is very unique and cool. They have their own specials ranging from a Ryu type Hadouken fireball to a little cat that turns into a demon and attacks. I fell in love with each of them. My favorite being June who is a creepy looking ghost girl that looks like Samara from the Ring. Her attacks are ranged and ominous that of Japanese Horror Lore. The other characters have very cool moves as well but I will let you explore that when you purchase the game?.
The fights are pretty quick despite being a best of 5. You start off with 12 hit points and every hit takes one away making for quick but fun rumbles. The backdrops are filled with color and beautiful even in 8 bit. I love the music as well. Felt like a real modern spin to 8 bit gaming. The gameplay is very smooth, I was very impressed that it runs so clean even online. The standard for Switch, running at 60fps at 1080p docked and seems to run 60fps as well undocked. Clutch.
Pocket Rumble has several modes to play with
- Arcade: Face off against the rest of the game’s cast back to back! Can you survive all 8 matches?
- Versus: Play local matches with friends or the CPU, and get competitive with hidden cursors for double-blind character select at the touch of a button.
- Career: Take part in fictional fighting game tournaments around the globe, playing against AIs based on some of Pocket Rumble’s top players and eventually facing off against AIs from some familiar faces in the FGC.
- Lessons: Robust tutorials that teach you the very basics of how fighting games work
- Training: A fully-featured training mode with a variety of hotkeys and options including viewable hitboxes, save states, dummy recording and more.
- Ranked: Get matched up with players of your skill level online, earn points and rank up with Elo ratings, leaderboards including character-specific rankings, and a rematch button to challenge someone to an unranked set when you need that runback.
- Unranked: Invite your friends to play unranked matches just for fun!
I found that the CPU is pretty difficult especially on Arcade mode. Playing online is extremely satisfying as it seems a bit more leveled. Something I failed to mention earlier is that each character counters another meaning if you are getting bodied by Tenchi main, the game allows you to switch characters after two round losses. For this example switching to Quinn counters Tenchi. My personal experience anyway. Seriously, the first night of online play it seemed everyone was using Tenchi and spamming the Hadouken fireball attack. After several L’s I switched to Quinn and started bodied those clowns. Quinn is super quick and has Wolf like moves.
In Conclusion, despite being released way later than scheduled and having super simple controls, Pocket Rumble packs a huge punch and is well worth the small price tag. From splitting a Joy-con with a friend in table-top mode to enjoying a smooth online experience this game is something you should definitely have in your library. The graphics, music, gameplay and unique characters really sell the game and huge shout out to Cardboard Robot Games and Chucklefish for finishing this game. Now go out and RUMBLE!