There’s no delicate way to put it but Gintama Rumble on PlayStation 4 is pretty much “Dynasty Warriors Gintama”. The gameplay and control scheme are so similar that any Warriors player can jump in blind and be good at it.
Also, knowledge of the anime isn’t required since the game helpfully explains new characters when they appear, though a more comprehensive background, like the Warriors’ series library mode, would have been welcome.
Gintama Rumble begins with a Prologue set during the first-contact Amanto War (a parody of Japan’s forced open borders) and then continuing with the Benizakura arc. Fans of the anime will notice that it skips most of Season 1’s early story, such as the embassy bombing and the Shinsengumi’s hunt, or the gang’s encounter with the Harusame pirates. With a total of ten arcs and one Side Stories chapter, the amount of content isn’t as much as you’d find in a Warriors game too.
Also, the stages are surprisingly cramped. Even the bigger ones are barely a quarter the size of a typical Warriors stage. Those small stages are reused a lot too, as seen in the Gintama Chronicles story mode. Since the game is separated into arc-defined chapters, you’ll be stuck playing the same stages over and over until you finally progress. These stages reappear in the Free Battle mode, where the repetition feels stronger.
As you progress, higher levels not only unlock new skills, but also gives you Character Points to increase their health, Awakening gauge (dictates how long you can stay in the Awakening mode), attack, defense, movement speed, and Silver Orb slots.
Silver Orbs are modifiers that come with passive and active effects. You get them from beating area captains and from looting certain boxes. Their active effects range from healing to temporarily calling in backup characters like Sadaharu or Elizabeth, while passive effects may provide constant healing or an attack boost the closer you are to death. Silver Orbs come with three tiers of proficiency too, granting more power to their effects.
There’s not a lot of strategy involved in Gintama Rumble, so the orbs are a welcome addition. Do you opt for the Neo Armstrong Cannon orb with its attack enhancing passive, or just go for the Tsuu Terakado orb for constant healing?
Finding out which orb you’ve found is also fun, unless you’re out farming for one that just won’t drop. You’ll get to carry up to three orbs once the slots are all unlocked, allowing you to experiment and find the best combination.
Like Dynasty Warriors, the battles mainly come down to you bashing numerous similar-looking henchmen and -women to capture camps. Beat the captain protecting it and the area is yours. There are other objectives, such as escort missions, but for the most part you’ll be taking over camps.
While the gameplay is not that deep, the presentation is top-notch. The stylish combos and finishes are leaps and bounds ahead of what Omega Force has done in their games. Special moves and Awakening Finishes all look over the top, with bombastic special effects and copious cutscenes, making it look like an episode right out of the anime.
Unfortunately, Gintama Rumble takes a downward turn when it comes to bosses; facing them is probably the worst part of the game. They don’t stagger when hit and deal massive damage no matter what you do. Dodging and blocking is hit or miss against them, too. It’s totally inconsistent with the laidback difficulty of the rest of the game. Unless you’re specifically equipped for them, you’ll be breezing through a stage only to fall right at the end. It’s frustrating.
Visually, the cutscenes in Gintama Rumble don’t hold up. Compared to the outlandish special moves and anime-like presentation, they’re dishearteningly bad. It reuses static images coupled with lines from the anime, which is not only jarring from the all the frenetic gameplay but also incredibly boring. On the bright side, we do get the original Japanese voice actors.
Nitpicking aside, Gintama Rumble is a pretty decentWarriors-type game. The smaller stages and technical hiccups may detract somewhat from the experience, but the quality presentation and fun gameplay more than make up for its shortcomings. It’s not enough to dethrone the champ, but if sales do well enough then perhaps we’ll one day see a bigger, fleshed-out sequel.
AT A GLANCE
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Tried and true Dynasty Warriors gameplay with top-notch anime flair, but brings nothing really new to the table.
Filling the Awakening Gauge will let you enter the Awakened Mode for you character for even more over the top visual attacks.
PICTURES BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAIMENT