WiiWare Double-Bill Review: Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, Pokemon Rumble
This review is sort of a double-feature showcasing the chops of Nintendo’s Wii Shop channel, which up until this point I had only had minor experience with. By “minor” I mean I used it to hoard a bunch of best-loved and half-forgotten games from my childhood for easy access. Chances are that if you have a penchant for “older” games, the Wii Shop Channel is for you; after all, many of your classic favourites are probably Nintendo made, leftover from a time where Nintendo dominated the gaming scene. One of the games I’ll be discussing is from that generation, but not from a classic Nintendo console. The second is a more recent entry from the Wiiware section with a little more depth and ties to everyone’s favourite collectable monster fad.
- Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
Like most classics, this one comes complete with a 10-second intro cutscene and the strong sense that the developers weren’t entirely sober when they made the game. Alex’s eye-rolling girlfriend is stolen from their favourite field of flowers by the Dark Ninja, and all appears lost until a ghost ninja comes along and gives Alex the power to slay ninjas en masse.
Alex Kidd is one of those tripped-out classic games where the main theme (ninjas) seems at odds with the cutesy characters and Alex’s strange abilities (like becoming a fireball when swinging on a pole or turning into a tornado). Both the trippiness and those abilities make the game a fun and unique experience, as well as the ability to upgrade Alex’s basic sword to a host of other ninja-y weapons.
The level design is often not very interesting, easy to navigate, and each level seems like a terrible place for a ninja stronghold. Furthermore the whole oddball-classic dynamic of the game can get a little too loopy sometimes, like the floating metal golem boss who fires small helicopters from his mouth… Seriously, what’s up with that?
- Pokemon Rumble
I don’t care what anyone says, this game is freaking sweet. It’s the Pokemon you know and love, except it’s centred around fast-paced real time combat and the constant search for more powerful Pokemon. If you love to collect those little monsters as much as I do but you’ve grown tired of the turn-based battles common to the Pokemon game series, this game is for you.
Pokemon Rumble includes all 151 of the original Pokemon as well as a host of Pokemon from the Diamond and Pearl generation, pleasing to both old and new trainers alike. It’s great fun to tank out your strongest Pokemon and just go on a rampage, using awesome attacks and snapping up new Pokemon as you go… Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole game. It sounds simple, and it is. It’s also a ridiculously good time, especially if you bring in up to 3 friends for co-op play!
This game could have easily been fun in virtually every aspect, but a few senseless technical problems mar what would otherwise be a near-perfect package. In short, both the attacks and the Pokemon you can buy with in-game currency are entirely random. This wouldn’t be so bad if the pool of attacks and Pokemon weren’t so massive, meaning that every attempt is more likely to give you something useless or that you already have rather than an interesting new addition to your repertoire. Buying new attacks and Pokemon is a large part of progressing in Pokemon Rumble, so these problems stand out as the most obvious.
Here’s the Deal
I think both of these games are excellent selections for the Wii Shop Channel. Want something classic, cheap, and oodles of fun? Get Super Mario Bros. But if you’ve already played that get Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, because it’s in the same classic-platformer vein and it’s a reasonably fun ride. Pokemon Rumble costs three times as much, but this game is far more enjoyable and unique, with the added bonus that it can be played co-op. I’d recommend both in the end, but if it comes down to one or the other you won’t be disappointed with Pokemon Rumble. Mike D.
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World: 7/10
Pokemon Rumble: 8/10