Review by kefka989

"Makes you wish you were playing Duel Masters"

Do you Bakugan? Have you ever Bakugan'ed? Do you even know what it means? Do you even care? Well for all of those (and I imagine there are plenty of you) who are unfamiliar with it, let me educate you with a little bit of a summery of it with a review of Bakugan Battle Brawlers for the PS3.

So what is the story behind the game? Well I'm not familiar with the show but judging from the game this is what I can gather. Bakugan, or the creatures that make it up, come from an alternate dimension called ‘Vestroya', which is broken into elements. Every so often, a few of them manage to get through to the real world where they take the form of game pieces. One day, there was a massive breach between the two worlds and several got out, and with them came hundreds of cards that rained down. No one knew what they were, so kids collected them up and made a game out of it, having no idea that the cards contained power. Eventually the Bakugan realized they could only gain power by partnering up with players, so soon Bakugan players found partners and started making the game into a strong competition, their activities effecting the strength of the various beings from another world.

The game follows you as you attempt to make your way through the ranks and become the best battle brawler by beating all the other players one by one. As you win matches, you get points which you can use as currency and also are added to a total which determines your rank. The game itself is rather complex for such a kid's game.

At the start of each match you have to lay down a ‘field card'. The main area is composed of a grid which you place the field cards on. You have to put the first card opposite your opponents, so his card is closer to you and yours him. After that point, you have to throw one of your Bakugan (which resemble a marble at this point) at the face down field cards. You can choose to place your creature on their card, denying them the field, but that is risky since you have no idea what kind of card is there and they can have all kinds of effects, like doubling bonuses to a particular creature, not to mention each card ups the attack of each element based on the card. Once a bakugan is sitting on a field, it can be challenged by an opponent's bakugan if he can land it on the same card. If he can, he can slam his bakugan against yours to try to knock it off or do damage, based on how strong their bakugan is compared to yours, and also it's stats. If you can land your bakugan on a field which already has one of your creatures on it, its double-fielded, and you automatically claim the field.

The main point of this is that you first need to land your bakugan on a card. If you over shoot, or get the aim off, you can steer your bakugan in mid-air using the controller to move it. How long you can do this is based on each bakugan's stat for how long you can aim them. Its important to know for how long and how fast you can move them as if you miss a card entirely you can roll your bakugan along the ground as long as you have the energy to do so and land it on a card. Your opponent can also steer their bakugan about like this, but you can shoot at their bakugan using energy blasts, knocking the thing off course a bit. This can sometimes help keep them from landing on the field, but sometimes it does not help as they are good at rolling their bakugan along the ground with deadly precision and can usually land it anywhere, missing only when they want too.

When two bakugan land on the same area and fight, you first start by comparing their base strength, this is then altered by the field card, which effects the bakugan based on their element. Some cards favor one element over another but usually they favor 2 or 4 different elements over the rest. Second, it takes into account the special ability of the car, such as granting bonuses to certain creatures, giving more points depending on who landed first or second, and so on. Next you have the option of using a card to beef them up. You can only choose from one of 3, and the cards are determined by your deck. Lastly, before the actual fight, there is a last minute mini game. The mini games include a shake game, where you shake the controller for extra battle points, a match game, where you have to move the target and shoot the element marker that matches your element on a group of 8, and lastly the rhythm game, which has you hitting a particular button when a marker reaches another like a game of ‘dance dance revolution'. After all of this, the winner is the one who has the most points, and the winner keeps the field card. The first to collect 3 field cards wins the game.

The bakugan are a number of creatures, each one having different stats. Besides their basic starting battle points, their stats include how well they resist a marble-on-marble hit, how well they shove other bakugan about when hitting them, how fast they move and for how long when being controlled, how much they bounce, and so forth. Their total battle points and stats can be increased by pumping points into them, making them level up. However, the more levels they are, the more points it requires to level them up. You also can buy extra bakugan and cards to improve your overall deck selection but you can only have 3 bakugan and 5 cards in any deck and cannot buy more then one copy of each.

Eventually the game puts you in 2 on 2 team battles in addition to 1 on 1 battles, making it important to work with your team mate. What really changes things up is theme fields, which are large complex fields that have lots of items you can collect by having your bakugan hit them, items increasing the movement time you have, boosts for the battle points, extra cards to replenish your deck, and other goodies. They also offer extra chances to land on a missed field card by rolling the ball onto launchers or special field zones. Lastly, the fields are based on elements and if the element matches the element of your bakugan, you get a battle point boost.

Going over the game there are lots of flaws to see here. For one, your options are pretty much just ‘fight, tournament fight, customize your deck, and buy more deck stuff'. The game has a large map but you wont be going anywhere besides the store, your house, the park, or the tournament area. At all of these areas you run into the characters but have to suffer through their awful voices, the voice acting on par with most kid games which is to say its awful. The game itself is rather unfair to say the least, as the computer only misses field cards when it wants to, usually doing so with the weaker characters quite often, while the stronger characters later on just school you with their pin-point precision and their ability to not be denied a card regardless of how much you shoot their bakugan in flight. And mentioning that, its hard to effect the flight when the game does not want you do, shooting their bakugan hampered by the randomly moving targeter, which keeps you from harassing the computer too much, but in the end its pointless as if they want to land somewhere, they simply roll their bakugan around the ring like little wheels, seeming to have an endless supply of energy to move and eventually trying your patience that you will let them take the card they want just to move on with the game.

For some reason, you will never have a bakugan that is as strong as the computers. Their stats are always higher, they always move faster, and most of all, their battle points will always be higher then yours on a default level, even their weaker monsters usually having 50 more battle points then anything but your main monster. This is made worse when they use their cards to boost them further, and later on when their elements ALWAYS seem to match the field they are on, granting them bigger boosts. You can sometimes manage to fend them off with the mini-games, but even then the game only lets you take advantage with the weaker characters, the computer getting better at the mini games as you fight the more advanced players. It forces you to collect all the power ups on the field but that's difficult considering that your own bakugan blocks your view of what is directly in front of it and often you over or undershoot the power ups and end up hitting nothing AND missing the field card since you were trying to hit the power ups and not reaching the field in time. Also, the strategy is laughable in a game where your deck is only 5 cards, the more advanced cards not unlocked until you progress through the story.

Over all, this game is basic. It boils down to who lands first (usually the person who lands first is at a disadvantage as the second person just smacks their bakugan with theirs and damages or destroys their opponents that way.), who has the better cards, who's element matches the field, and who has the best spazz-out skills for the mini-games. I can see that this game was made for kids but even they will be frustrated by the lop-sidedness of the game. As mentioned, the game only seems to make mistakes and let you grab the advantage when it wants too, flubbing a throw intentionally just to let you win a fight against an easy character, since they are programmed to just be warm ups anyway compared to the opponents later on. It's a wonder this was ever approved as a game as it lacks most solid concepts. I mean, Yu-Gi-Oh and Duel Masters at least have a working card game behind them, but this feels like an excuse to waste time with no real reward other then pretty colors flashing on the screen and seeing something that resembles a TV show baring the same name. Definitely not recommended even for fans of the show or small children, and definitely keep it away from children who have a short fuse as later the game shows them no mercy.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/11/09

Game Release: Bakugan Battle Brawlers (US, 10/20/09)


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