Digimon Rumble Arena 2 Review

Developer: Bandai Publisher: Bandai
Release Date: September 2, 2004 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

You may be asking yourself what I am doing reviewing a Digimon game. You certainly would have reason to, especially if you were told that it wasn’t a review copy. No, I haven’t lost my sanity, and no, I am not a Digimon fan. But sometimes people, myself included, are willing to take risks when the potential benefit is great enough.

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Let me explain. Ever since I bought SSBM, I have been somewhat addicted to it. Thus, I have been searching high and low for another game like it. After a couple years and many purchases to this end, I heard of this game, and, once again, the words “like SSBM” were enough to convince me to give the game a chance. Actually, I find it quite sad that this is a Digimon game, as its high production values and all-around high quality are going to be overlooked by people who look at the game and say “licensed game based on the Digimon license” and dismiss it that quickly. But I have rambled long enough. Let’s get into the review.

The graphics in this game are very good. No, they are not up to the standard set by Wind Waker, or even quite up to the standard set by SSBM (yes, I am going to be comparing the two a lot throughout this review, get used to it), but everything nonetheless is very detailed, especially the characters. Overall, a very good job done by Bandai on the graphical side of this game.

The music and sound effects also show evidence of having had work put into them. The music for the stages is not as memorable as the music from SSBM (but, seriously, what music could compare to the best of the classic Nintendo themes), but it sounds very good and feels like it fits on the stages nonetheless. The sound effects for the attacks and even for the backgrounds on some of the stages, like the waterfall stage, also sound good. The voice acting can get old after hearing the same sound bites over and over again, but that is not a major complaint either.

So far as gameplay is concerned, this game is not a direct clone of SSBM, although there are enough similarities that you can tell this game was influenced by it. Boasting a cast of 19 characters, 15 of which have three different forms, this game has slightly fewer characters than SSBM, but of them, only three are clones instead of six. Sadly, though, the clones in this game appear to be just that, clones. I could not for the life of me tell the difference in battle styles between the originals and the clones, meaning the only difference was in color scheme.

So far as stages go, there are only ten, but no two of them are alike. You don’t have a whole slew of the same thing like what seems to be prevalent in SSBM. Each stage is in a different environment, with a different layout and different hazards. However, for those people who enjoy playing for skill, there is only one stage where there are no hazards whatsoever, with the other nine all having something to watch out for.

The battle system is similar to SSBM’s, but is more simplified, with less attacks per character. There are no smash attacks. Instead, each character has a forward, up, and down normal move and special move, both in the air and on the ground, as well as a grab move when on the ground. Level 3 Digimon (more on that later) also have two other moves, one performed at any time by holding L and B (please note I am speaking about GCN controls, on the other consoles the controls will likely be similar but different), and one performed by hitting R after filling up their Digimeter. Unlike SSBM, you don’t have to be knocked off the stage to die. You also have a lifebar that can be depleted. Of course, for cheap kills, on some stages you can knock your opponent off the edge, and since there aren’t fancy recovery moves in this game, that will result in your opponent’s demise if their double jump and slight special move movements aren’t enough to get them back on the stage.

You might be wondering what I mean by a Digimeter. Essentially, when you hit an opponent with a special move, little blue orbs will pop out of them. Collecting these will fill up a blue meter under your lifebar. This meter can do one of three things:

1. If you have lost health, you can hold down L and A to trade Digimeter for health.
2. If you are not a level 3 Digimon, you can fill the bar and then use it to Digivolve.
3. If you are a level 3 Digimon, you can fill it and perform an ultra attack.

Now, you may be wondering what good it does to Digivolve. Let me tell you it does a lot of good, so much in fact that many battles can come down to who digivolves first. Essentially, all the Digimon are evenly matched (unless somebody is using one of the unlocked boss characters that start and stay at level 3, and the others are not). But, a level 2 Digimon usually will have no trouble defeating a level 1 Digimon, and a level 3 Digimon can make short work of both level 1 and level 2 Digimon. Essentially, when a Digimon evolves, its moves become more impressive and more powerful. The only evening factor is that when a Digimon dies, it falls back one level, unless it dies at level 1.

There are some items in this game. They are not as prevalent as the higher item settings in SSBM, but their occurence cannot be deactivated, nor can it be altered how often they appear. Some of the items are similar to SSBM items, like health-restorers and invincibility, but some are unique, such as one which automatically fills the Digimeter. Some are truly interesting, such as the one that turns the person that gets it into a helpless pinata for a short period of time.

However, there are downsides to this game compared to SSBM. First, there is less strategy involved, as being at a higher level than your opponent is usually enough to get you the win if you Digivolve with a high quantity of health. Also, characters don’t recover as fast, meaning that if you get your opponent stuck against a wall, you can just keep hitting A and he’ll never be able to escape, or you can even hit an opponent who’s fallen down, and they can’t get up as fast as in SSBM. The ability to get cheap kills by knocking Digimon off the edge is also a bad spot in some cases, although it makes some single-player battles that would otherwise be difficult easier as the keep hitting A technique can work when a Digimon isn’t backed to a wall to keep knocking them back until they fall off.

The moral of this story is that this game is less about strategy than SSBM and more about having a good time. Skill means less, meaning that this game is more accessible. I know that I, being fairly proficient at SSBM, got creamed at this game by people that I am used to creaming at that game. The game does have four player capability like SSBM, so, like SSBM, it makes a good party game if people are willing to overlook the fact that it is a Digimon game.

So far as replay value goes, there is some to be had, both in the single player and the multiplayer. In the single player, some of the unlockables are random, including 8 game modes and 3 characters. You just have to keep playing over and over until you get them all, although they aren’t quite as interesting as the simple time and stock modes that you start out with. This game has the potential to last just as long as SSBM if people like that game, but only for those who don’t play SSBM seriously, because they would hate the relative lack of strategy in this game. But for those who feel that SSBM is just a button masher and a game of luck, and enjoy it as such, this game should prove a worthy alternative, although I would say that anybody who is a fan either of SSBM or of Digimon should at least give this game a chance.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.8
Written by Martin Review Guide

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