Exploring The NFC Figure Craze With Pokémon Rumble U

When I was young, Pokémon was all about three distinct mediums: the anime, on television; the game, on GameBoy; and the trading cards, in the playground. There was never much of a direct crossover between these, aside from the fact kids enjoyed all of them and they shared the same creatures.


Now, with Pokémon Rumble U, there’s a bit more of a crossover with real-world collectibles and virtual gameplay, as the game supports NFC figures much like Skylanders or Disney Infinity.

It’s a solid concept – the figures are sold blind in Pokéball capsules, so you never know what you’re going to get, whether that be a powerful legendary Pokémon such as Celebi or Mewtwo, or a starter such as Bulbasaur or Torchic, though all of these have relatively the same impact in-game.

The game is essentially a real-time action game, where you choose your ‘mon and head into battle against a specific set of creatures in an arena. It is, however, relatively uninspired and not much of an improvement on the poor 3DS entry in the series – the gameplay is perhaps even worse with no real structure to the levels, instead it’s just re-skinned octagonal arenas populated with different Pokémon from the 649 available.

You’re able to play with up to four players, but there’s barely any fun to be found with the game; it becomes repetitive after just minutes of playing, with poor graphics (despite the nicely designed figures) and a complete lack of charm or personality, that you’ll find with the main entries in the Pokémon series.

In fact, the only semi-decent part of the game is the way the figures are implemented. While it’s relatively simple in execution – as with the rest of the game – all that’s required is for you to place its base onto the bottom left section of the GamePad, and it’ll be transported into your game right before your eyes, disposing of enemies faster than the smaller creature you’re playing with ever could.


You can tune-up these Pokémon in-game by spending your earned coins, raising the level and changing their attacks, as well as being able to save your progress to them, before taking them to another Wii U system. That’s great for kids – harkening back to the days of taking memory cards and game cartridges to sleepovers – despite the low level of fun to be found in-game.

Quite interestingly, it uses the same technology as smart cards, so Oyster cards and such will also work, granting you a “helper” Pokémon in the midst of battle and saving you £4 on a figure, though you’re unable to tune these up and save your progress to them.

Nintendo really needs to learn to just stick to the main Pokémon franchise, rather than pushing out these charmless spin-offs, but there are some good ideas with the figures executed here. It’s at least a hint of what could come out of this NFC functionality, with perhaps more development time and some fresh ideas thrown into the mix.

I don’t think this particular game is going to replicate the success of the main series of Pokémon, nor other NFC enabled games such as Skylanders due to the actual game content being relatively poor, but the figures are a neatly implemented idea, considering all that they have to work with.



  1. do you have to keep the figures in contact with the receiver in the pad to keep using the Pokemon?
    because that might be awkward.

    anyway, they would probably have been better doing some sort of Stadium or Colosseum sequel.
    from the video, what they’ve actually made looks like one of the minigames from a Mario Party game.
    god knows the last thing the Wii U needs is more minigames.

    Colosseum on the Gamecube was fun, it even had a sort of story mode, it wasn’t up to the same standards as the regular games, but it was pretty good.
    and it may be the closest we’ll ever get to a proper home console Pokemon game.

    if the Wii U was a bigger seller i’d expect this to do phenomenal business, Pokemon seems to be a license to print money, but given the lacklustre sales, i don’t think it will be a huge success.

    Nintendo needs some new big titles for the Wii U, not remakes of old games, minigame collections, or games that are almost identical to the previous versions on Wii.

    a new 3D Mario game, a new Zelda, a new Metroid maybe.

    Nintendo were right when they said the price of the Wii U isn’t the problem.
    Nintendo not bringing their a game is the problem.
    minigame collection number 2342537 is not going to be a system seller.

    ahem, that went off on a tangent there. ^_^

    anyway, i expect this game will do as well as any game on the Wii U can do.

    • No, you just tap them on, take them off and they appear in the game.

      I want another stadium/colosseum too…

  2. Just make a third X/Y game, like Emerald, Platinum and those, but put it on Wii U.

  3. thank you for sharing y8 ben 10 games

  4. Are there 649 of these little figures to collect now? Blimey.

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