We go hands-on with the charming Pocket Rumble characters from Cardboard Robot Games‘ new Switch and Steam fighter at EGX Rezzed 2017.
Paying homage to the SNK fighters from the Neo Geo Pocket, this isn’t the sort of game I’d usually rush to try and admittedly my expectations weren’t particularly high. I’m not very good at fighting games and as I’ve previously made clear, I don’t like games with deliberately pixelated graphics. But Pocket Rumble blew me away – the best way I could describe it is a fighting game for people that aren’t very good at fighting games.
Stripping away the complicated combos of Street Fighter, etc. Pocket Rumble instead uses two buttons and a directional stick. The pixelated art style perfectly complements how non-threatening the game feels to someone who might usually be daunted by fighting games.
Each of the Pocket Rumble characters has their own set of moves with advantages and disadvantages, but without playing in depth through the roster of eight fighters we weren’t able to fully assess the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Fights are played over five rounds, which gives players a little more time to be able to turn a match around if it’s not going well. Players who lose two rounds are also given the option to switch Pocket Rumble characters before the next round – a neat touch for anyone who’s ever picked a fighter and immediately regretted their choice. Seasoned players of fighting games might find Pocket Rumble a little too shallow, but there is more to it than simply mashing buttons.
The game plays well on the Switch – I was a little concerned that in the heat of battle, the Joy-Cons would feel a little flimsy, but that wasn’t the case during any of the hands-on sessions we attended. Equally there’s always the risk that upscaling pixelated graphics from the Switch screen to HD will create an eyesore – thankfully the Pocket Rumble characters looked great on the big screen TV’s.
The game was due to release last month for the Switch, but has been delayed. Hopefully not for too long because with 2 vs. 2 online or local multiplayer, this promises to be a killer app for quick Switch sessions and I’d very much encourage everyone to give it a try.
If you simply can’t wait to get your hands on it, Pocket Rumble is already available via Steam Early Access.