Digimon: All-Star Rumble is based on the Digimon anime series, which revolves around fantastical creatures that can “Digivolve,” or transform into even more elaborate selves to battle one another. The game, from Bandai Namco Games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, shares that basic premise: The Digi-monsters are enjoying a period of peace and prosperity, which naturally makes them want to throw a huge tournament to see who the toughest monster is.
Players can choose from three different Digi-monsters, whose mission involves traveling to the tournament, encountering other characters along the way and potentially engaging in one-on-one battles. During these arena-style bouts, there are power-up stations that periodically offer players special abilities or items: for example, a missile they can fire at the other Digi-monster. Meanwhile, whenever the player’s fighting meter is full up, he or she can Digivolve the character into its more powerful alter-ego.
Each character has its own unique set of fighting skills: There’s Agumon, an orange Tyrannosaurus Rex (and the franchise mascot) who can breathe fire at his enemies; Veemon, a green bunny with fleet feet; a staff-wielding, red lizard-like creature named Shoutmon; and more. Many are unlockable, and the general art direction for them is colorful and cartoonish, which definitely offsets the violent undertones of the game (as well as the franchise itself, I would guess).
Along with a quest mode, Digimon: All-Star Rumble has a versus mode reminiscent of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., in that multiple players can suit up as favorite characters and duke it out in a digital arena. They can choose from different backdrops, each with its own topographical and geographical features, as well as different stipulations for victory: There’s a timed mode, for example, in which players try to do the most damage before the ticker runs out; or a Capture the Flag mode where the player who holds the flag for the longest within a set time period is the victor.
Overall, the game celebrates one of the franchise’s strongest qualities—that is, the wide range of cute monsters that can fight other cute monsters. If that seems more Digi-calibrated than Digivolved, fair point; nevertheless, Digimon: All-Star Rumble is a lot of harmless fun.