Gin Tama (or Gintama as it is often stylized) is a popular manga, having sold over 50 million copies since its inception in December 2003. The series has seen a handful of video games launch throughout the years, but none so far for the current generation of home consoles. That changed with the release of Gintama Rumble for the PlayStation 4 and Vita. It’s a hack-n-slash action game, which fits the manga that is so heavily focused on action. But is this just Dynasty Warriors by a different name? We’ve spent plenty of time in this alternate version of Edo, and have our verdict ready.
Gintama Rumble follows the story of the anime, which can best be summed up as quirky. It takes place in the late-Edo period of Japan, but in an alternate timeline where the Earth was invaded and conquered by technologically superior aliens. Samurai were ousted from power, and carrying a sword in public was banned. Presumably, time is sped up after this occurs, because characters can later be seen using cell phones. So unless the aliens shared some of their technological knowhow, the story as seen in Gintama Rumble also takes place in a more contemporary period. The main campaign, covering several chapters of the series, can take 20-30 hours to complete, which is a good chunk of time to invest in any game.
For fans of the Gintama manga and/or anime, there’s little doubt this game will satiate desires to play out major battles from the popular series. However, those who are not so familiar with the franchise will probably feel a little lost. Cinematics are rarely in-game, as most rely on showing stills from the anime, using a narrator and voice actors to fill in the story. These scenes also have sharing functionality disabled on the PS4, which means that sharing my favorite line where one character says “Farewell, my dearest homies” while having his back turned in dramatic fashion, is more difficult than it should be. Copyright rules be damned; that was such a perfect shot it deserves to be shared (note to any lawyers reading: that was a joke)!
Not Too Detailed
Much like any Musou-like game, Gintama Rumble isn’t the most graphically impressive game out there. Due to a requirement of potentially showing hundreds of enemies onscreen at any given time, things are scaled back when it comes to loading in high-resolution textures or impressive backgrounds. Battlefields are often reused as well. Indeed, the PS4 Pro we played on hardly broke a sweat no matter what carnage was being rendered. The frame rate remained solid throughout the experience, at or near 60 frames per second.
Gintama Rumble has fairly generic audio for the genre, which is heavy on the guitar, and could be swapped with any other Musou-like game without much notice. The cinematics also suffer from heavy reuse of the same music to match a scene’s mood. In a nice touch, character’s voices do come out of the DualShock 4’s speaker from time to time, though almost randomly they will play out of the television/sound system instead. Every line is well-voiced, at least.
Hack-n-slash games need to set themselves apart from others in some way. Dynasty Warriors does this with swappable characters in battles, for instance. Gintama Rumble doesn’t appear to have much in the way of unique mechanics. As characters level up, new abilities are unlocked, but only up to three. There are special orbs to collect to enable a special move performed with R1, which recharges slowly over time to be used again, and it’s here that the most variety can be found in Gintama Rumble. Each character can equip up to three orbs prior to battle, though two of those slots have to be earned by upgrading one of three stats first. It’s a bit of a grind, but nothing that hasn’t been seen before.
Combat feels like Gintama Rumble’s weakest point, which isn’t promising. To come into a genre so entrenched with well-established franchises such as Dynasty Warriors means that either your combat must be innovative, or you will bet on fans of whatever franchise is featured to pick up the game simply because they love the series so much. Only being able to control one character per battle, and extremely limited move sets are factors which indicate that Bandai Namco chose the latter option.
Gintama Rumble is a game for fans of the manga and anime, and gets by as a passable Dynasty Warriors clone. If you’re looking for a ton of depth or strategy, well, you should look someplace else. Some wonky fighting mechanics can get in the way, but this is overall a solid effort to bring Gintama to the current generation of consoles.
For those interested in importing —> Gintama Rumble (English Subs)