Digimon has always been one of those Japanese properties that, while it has been popular in the US, it has never reached the heights of rival titan, Pokemon. Digimon has had other Rumble titles in past: Digimon Rumble Arena 1 and 2, both of which I have played, and while the series has always been ok, it has never been able to surmount its other rival title, Super Smash Bros. Digimon hasn’t been as popular in the US lately, but they are giving it another try with Digimon All-Star Rumble. The idea is of this to be a light, kid friendly alternative to Smash Bros, that will be for the Digimon fans themselves, more than anything else. Now, I understand this idea in that Digimon wants to try and give its younger fans in the US a new game to play, but the game also has all of the previous generations of Digimon, as well, dating back to the early 90s in most cases, which is a little weird, since All-Star Rumble seems to be purely designed with kids in mind.
The game has 3 modes on the main menu: story, versus, and training. Story is your simple, run of the mill arcade mode, with a skylanders like feel. In order to get to your opponent for the match, you have to fight your way through different types of Digimon that all have their own attack patterns and weaknesses. This gives the fighting game a unique twist at first, but can become a burden for multiple playthroughs. The tutorial doesn’t disappear after your first playthrough, so you are forced to do the exact same story over and over, but with different Digimon orders each time. It becomes a pain, especially when all you’re doing the story for is to unlock more characters.
The versus mode has a little more variety to it, as there are many different styles of play, but they all boil down to the same kinds of modes on the same 12 stages, which can get very repetitive after a while. The amount of characters in the game is even less than the Digimon Rumble Arena 2, with only 12 playable characters available, as opposed to the more than 20 in the previous title. Then there is the Training mode, which is like any other fighting game training mode. There are also the collectible cards that you can get and purchase through completing the Story Mode. These cards are all modeled after the original Digimon card game, and you can use them as Defensive or Offensive buffs that can activate different effects during battle. A lot of them have unique effects in battle, but there isn’t any surprise when the stronger card wins the effect.
The graphics are disappointing. While the character models look new and shiny, they don’t fit well with the outdated, and ugly textures that make up most of the environments and stages. The game itself looks half good and half bad, and just goes to show that some parts of the game had effort put into them while, other parts weren’t even really bothered with.
While the game is only $40 retail, I feel like it really was a rushed attempt to use the Digimon license to make a few more dollars with the holiday rush, and that honestly really disappoints me. Digimon has a lot of memorable characters from all of its season runs that many people would love to see in one of these entries, and while Digimon Rumble Arena 1 and 2 tried their best to fit as many memorable characters as they could, this entry simply tries to fit only a few, and make the game as simple as possible. The game could have more playable characters, and unique fighters, as well as a plethora of stages all from the unique locations and settings throughout the series. I am a Digimon fan myself, so I love the series to its core, but I wish that more love had been given to the game as a whole. As it stands now, the game is a somewhat solid fighter, held back by a clumsy story mode, and myriad of missing fighting modes, characters, and stages that should have been included as well. If you’re a Digimon fan, and have a group of friends, this could keep you occupied for a few hours, but it doesn’t have the replay ability that smash bros has, and once again, that is quite a shame.