More than a year after its announcement, Pocket Rumble has finally landed on Nintendo Switch! We’ve been looking forward to this title and are excited to share our thoughts with you.
This retro-style 2-D fighter is founded on the principle of simplicity. Unlike most games in its genre, Pocket Rumble uses just 3 buttons for control: A, B, and the D-pad or joystick. And you don’t have to memorize intricate combinations of button pressing because all moves are highly intuitive, using just A and/or B along with the D-pad or joystick. Instead of racking up points for double-digit combos, you’ll simply use your chosen character(s) to the best of your ability.
Pocket Rumble features no story elements, and we like it that way. But we know that the fighting characters in Pocket Rumble are aliens—with the exception of Parker, the special agent with a striking resemblance to Twin Peaks’ Special Agent Dale Cooper. There are eight unique playable characters in Pocket Rumble, and every archetypical character is represented, from the balanced brawler to the close-combat grappler. And on top of it all, the fighters feel balanced themselves; there isn’t really one fighter who stands out as superior to the others.
As we said, Pocket Rumble is all about simplicity, and this is especially true in its gameplay. Gameplay is organized into brief fights, each consisting of several short rounds that last about 30 seconds each. Whoever wins 3 rounds wins the fight. You can fight in a wide variety of modes, including online, couch co-op, single-player (including arcade, career, and VS CPU), training, and lessons. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each mode has to offer:
ONLINE pairs you with a random opponent, or you can match with your friends through an internet connection. You should probably wait to play online until you’re comfortable with the controls, since the competition online can be fierce! At the end of a fight, you can find a new player to fight, request a rematch, or exit the fighting mode.
VERSUS offers couch co-op, which is perfect for Switch because of its Joy Con. Joy Con can work together as one controller or separately as two, but in our experience, playing with a single Joy Con makes the controls much more difficult than they have to be. We suggest trying Versus mode with a combo of Joy Con Grip, Pro Controller, and/or any D-pad-equipped controller compatible with Switch.
ARCADE includes the standard ladder of matches with CPU fighters, plus a brawl with each fighter in the game.
CAREER is a good mode to play after completing the lessons and a undergoing a bit of training. You’ll start Career mode with 1000 points. Your point value will fluctuate as you win and/or lose matches. When you lose matches, you lose points, and your CPU opponents become less challenging; when you win, you gain points, and you face a greater challenge.
VS CPU is a single match against one CPU opponent. You’ll choose the CPU’s difficulty from three levels of intensity.
TRAINING lets you practice your moves. You can even view frame data and display hit-boxes if you want to tweak your skills to absolute perfection.
LESSONS teach the basics of fighting. You can complete a lesson for any character, helping you learn the basics of a character’s move set and understand their special abilities. Lessons is the place to start for beginners. The lessons are basically a tutorial that teach the basics for every character in the game.
We love the vast amount of content packed into Pocket Rumble, and we really love the game’s simplicity factor. We aren’t seasoned 2-D fighting gamers, and Pocket Rumble’s simplicity really appeals to us. The lessons and training helped us understand the basics of the game in no time, but we’re still struggling to grasp other elements of fighting, like timing.
For example, because timing is difficult to master, it’s hard to integrate more technical aspects of fighting, like blocking, into your play style unless you’re already quite familiar with the 2-D fighter genre. But even if you’re more of a beginner like us, you’ll definitely progress if you practice.
And speaking of practice, you really should practice before you venture to fight online or advanced AI opponents. We advise sticking with one main character and mastering their fighting style until you are completely confident and comfortable as that character. Otherwise, you just might get your soul crushed when you play online.
We’re happy to report that online play works well most of the time. But if you’re up against a player with a slow internet connection, you’re in for a laggy battle. We didn’t experience much lag at all during our many online matches, so we don’t expect this to be much of an issue.
Travel back in time with Pocket Rumble’s retro aesthetics, and bask in the glory of a well-designed soundscape and lovely hi-bit graphics. Each environment is charming, but never distracting or overbearing. And the characters are designed brilliantly: their looks reveal their personalities without any voicing or dialogue, and their move animations are perfectly executed. (You can also customize your character’s color each time you fight—another cool design touch!)
Pocket Rumble is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of 2-D fighting games. It’s also a great starting point for newcomers to the genre, but understand that it takes practice to get the hang of the controls—even though they are insanely basic for a 2-D fighter. For the price, this game is worth having in your collection. You never know when you’ll get an itch for some classic 2-D fighting—or when you and a friend just want to brawl it out!
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Chucklefish LTD
Developer – Cardboard Robot Games, LLC
Price – $9.99
Genre – Fighting, Action, Multiplayer
Size – 309 MB
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.