Review by Marter
Reviewed: 01/21/10 | Updated: 03/29/10
A dumbed down, unresponsive version of Super Smash Brothers
Digimon Rumble Arena 2 takes you into the Digital World once again for a Super Smash Brothers style fighting game for the Gamecube, Playstation 2, and Xbox. You get to pick a Digimon and use different moves in order to defeat 2-4 others in a 2D fighting game. There may not be as much depth as Super Smash Brothers, but it is fun enough to want to play it through, and maybe boot it up with friends, assuming you have enough self esteem to not be embarrassed by playing a Digimon game designed for children.
Despite coming out 3 years after Melee, Digimon Rumble Arena 2 doesn't look quite as nice. The Digimon are not very detailed, and even if the Digimon were more detailed, it wouldn't matter, as the camera is too far away to see them. This is one part I didn't like about the battles, and it would have helped the game out if the camera would have zoomed in more when fighting close together. Another problem with Rumble Arena is the framerate jumps around more than a kid on a trampoline. If any effects are actually going on, the framerate goes down the tubes. The menus all look nice through, and when transitioning between menus, it gives the illusion that you are going through a tube. The attack effects are also somewhat lacking, with many of the attacks looking the same with different colors. The levels are more detailed than the Digimon, and actually are quite nice to look at.
Speaking of the levels, they are nicely varied, and unlike many games today, have not been put through a gritty brown filter. They actually have bright colors, and make you want to fight in them. Each level has something different to offer, and each one typically has a different gimmick to offer. These range from disappearing platforms, to barrels of TNT being thrown around. Digimon Rumble Arena 2 certainly has a cartoony feel to it, but that certainly doesn't make it bad, it just turns away some gamers from it.
As previously mentioned, Digimon Rumble Arena is a Smash Brothers clone at its core, but one with quite a bit less depth. The battles are fought on a 2D plane, while you try to whittle your opponent's health points down to zero. This is a change from the normal battle of Smash Brothers, as in that game, the goal is to knock the opponents off the stage. In Rumble Arena, doing this will also take a life off of your opponent. There are a variety of gameplay modes to play in, ranging from timed matches, stock games or races to fully Digivolve fully a certain amount of times.
The actual battling is relatively similar to Smash Brothers. You get one normal attack button and one special attack button. You can use variations of these attacks by holding the analog stick up or down. In the air, special attacks work the same, but normal attacks are usually altered. For example, holding down and pressing the normal attack button will have your character dive directly down, creating a shockwave at the area of impact. This attack become vital to use later on, and is really quite annoying due to the stunning that is typically disregarded by the game. Whenever you use an attack, you would usually expect it to have some impact on the opponent other than just doing damage. You would usually expect is to knock the opponent down or backwards. This usually happens on the ground, but doesn't happen in the air, as characters recover from stun so quickly, they are able to retaliate sooner than you can execute your next attack. There is a jump button allowing two or three jumps depending on the Digimon. You can also shield yourself from your opponent's attacks, and counter with a throw. The throw button is also rather broken, as characters do not recover from a throw until hitting the floor. This means throwing an opponent off the edge results in an instant death for your foe. This means camping becomes an issue with the characters staying close to the edge, waiting for the enemy to approach and be thrown right off.
A core difference from Smash Brothers is the concept of Digivolving. Once you get into the battle, you collect blue orbs that fill up a bar under your Digimon's name. When this bar fills up, you can either Digivolve, (if you are a Rookie or Champion level Digimon), or you can unleash a finishing attack that will usually KO the opponent. Unlike in the first Digimon Rumble Arena, the Digivolutions last until you are KO'd, in which case you go down one Digivolution level.
There are also a few items that you can utilize in order to KO your opponent. Some of these benefit you, while others do not. For example, one increases your attack knockback to incredible levels for a few moments, while another makes bombs continuously spawn above your head for what seems like forever but is more like a minute. These two items look quite similar, and you may end up unintentionally knocking into one, due to the lack of detail and camera that is always zoomed out way too far.
Some parts of Smash Brothers are missing from Rumble Arena. Directional impact has very little effect on your direction after being attacked. This means after being hit off the stage, recovery becomes difficult. There are also no ledge grabs, meaning you need to land on the stage, or lose a life. There are no "Smash" attacks, and the only attacks you can charge up, are the extra attacks you get when fully Digivolved.
The single player mode to the game is incredibly short, and feels really tacked on. You go through a series of progressively harder battles, until fighting a boss character. There are five boss characters at the end of Single Player mode, and the one you fight will depend on how hard the battles are you fought previously. Throughout Single Player mode, you will be challenged, where you will have a chance to unlock a new battle mode or a "Black Digimon". After beating a boss Digimon, you unlock them to be used in Multiplayer mode. This really breaks Multiplayer mode, as the boss characters are extremely overpowered and no one else will have a chance to win if you choose them. Story mode also rarely offers a challenge and only does because the AI becomes more frustrating than intelligent at the highest difficulty setting.
Each stage has a song that plays while fighting in it that fits the theme of the level. The only sound bit that is at all memorable is the one being played during the menus of the game. Each Digimon says its name, and usually announces its attack right before it. The narrator announces when Digivolutions occur, and when items are used. Each attack makes a sound similar to what they sounded like in the anime, but they all sound relatively similar, with as an example, all fire attacks having the same sound clip.
I don't kid you one bit when I say the entirety of the Single Player mode can be beaten in one sitting. After unlocking every character, there is little reason to continue playing without friends, as Single Player becomes extremely easy, and there is little depth to mastering the characters. It takes at most around two hours to unlock every character and game mode, and after that, this game is really only fun with friends. You would be best off letting them play alone first, as you will have a much higher skill level than they will, which really hampers Digimon Rumble Arena's ability to be a good party game.
Without friends who really wish to play Rumble Arena with you, it will likely just sit on your shelf until you get the urge to restart it, allowing you to squeeze another couple hours of life out of the games dead body. Unlike the game it desperately wants to be, Rumble Arena just doesn't have the appeal that Smash Brothers does. It may be from the lack of depth, or maybe that it just isn't as well made.
Pros and Cons
+ Another 2D Party Fighting game
+ Not making you jump through hoops to unlock every character
- The camera staying zoomed out way too far
- Posing almost no challenge
- Being very boring after completion
- Poor throwing, stunning and recovery mechanics
Unless you can find friends that you can persuade into playing this game with you, it isn't worth the time looking into buying it. This is one of the harder games to find for the 6th generation of game consoles, and also one of the more expensive. It is difficult to track down, and not worth it once you do. If you really think you'd enjoy this style of game, buy Super Smash Brothers Melee, to get a more responsive, in-depth game, that will keep you hooked for a lot longer.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Digimon Rumble Arena 2 (US, 09/03/04)
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