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Bakugan Battle Brawlers (Wii) Review

Review for Bakugan Battle Brawlers on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Often when you're browsing shop shelves, you'll see toys for some show you've never heard of with an almost-unpronounceable name. More often than not it'll be the product tie-in to the latest toned-down anime series; Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon spring to mind, though they have avoided the 'fad' moniker. One of the newest brands to emerge is the Bakugan: Battle Brawler series, which combines cards and capsules to form a new take on monster battling. Popular as a regular playground activity, Activision have brought the concept to the realm of videogames. How does the franchise's first foray fare?

You'll immediately notice - especially if you're a fan of the TV show - how well the cel-shaded style compliments the surreal anime look for the game. Not only that, but there is some strong voicework used for both the main custom character and the regular Bakugan faces, together with some excellent backing music. As icing on the cake, the main storyline for the game runs adjacent to the regular one for the series, providing an aura of authenticity, yet also allowing for a new tale for fans to enjoy, unlike many of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games.

Bakugan has a rather unique advantage of looking, at first glance, to be something easy to get into. After all, you have two players, each with three capsule-encased monsters, and they battle one at a time until the person with the most points emerges as the victor. Easy, right? At this point, pretty much. Soon enough, however, cards come into play, and this is when things get interesting. These come in two main forms: Gate cards, and Power-Up cards. Gate cards are what you'll be aiming for with your capsule throws, as you need to capture three of them to win a game, and each one has different effects to power up your creatures depending on which you choose to place on the field. These boosts depend on the type of and the attribute of the card. Each has one of six possible powers: Pyrus/Fire, Aquos/Water, Subterra/Earth, Haos/Light, Darkus/Darkness, and Ventus/Wind, adding to an already varied choice. Starting to get confused yet? Don't worry, the in-game tutorial is very helpful.

Taking one of these cards is the objective when commencing battles, which kick off as soon as two rival monsters land on the same square. This is where any of the three Power-Up cards can be used. Each monster starts off with a set amount of 'G-Power' points, which increase or decrease depending on the Gate card they land on, and also when their player uses cards on that creature. As a last boost, one of three mini-games activates, requiring you to either shake the Wii remote like a madman, press button sequences in time to the icons, or point and shoot at the symbols corresponding to your creature's attribute. All that over with, the one with the highest points lets loose with a blindingly flashy attack, and nets their owner a valuable point. These are the main rules of play, and it sticks extremely close to the regular real-world game's rules while allowing for an eye-candy fighting twist. However, there is more to consider when you make the throw itself.

Screenshot for Bakugan Battle Brawlers on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When deciding the strength of your toss with the remote - which doesn't have the most accurate of gestures - you can, to a degree, control the direction and speed of the capsule's roll for a limited time. For some of the arenas this will let you grab items on your way to the Gate card; items such as G-Point boosters and Effect cards that can seriously change the outcome of a battle. Throw the capsule hard enough to forcefully collide with another Bakugan, and you'll also reduce their strength that way, so the initial choices before and during a throw are as vital as the battle itself.

There are three main types of battle: the standard one-on-one, a team battle of two against two, or a free-for-all battle royale for four players. All are enjoyable to play, whether it is just you up against well-developed enemy AI or versus buddies. With a large variety of monsters and cards to use on a wide choice of opponents, no two battles are ever the same.

Story mode teams you, as an edited character of your own creation, up with a mysterious Bakugan named Leonidas (no, not the 300 one). You conquer other players, tournaments for fame and glory, and attempt to find out where and when he came from. Along the way you'll bump into main characters of the show, personalize your avatar's appearance and other such settings in his room, buy new Bakugan, upgrade them, or purchase new cards with points gained from winning fights. With a high number of tournaments to go through, authentically voiced cutscenes popping up every now and again and practice battles to get more spendable points, this mode will last you a fair while.

And that's rather lucky, as the story is the single player's sole hub for focused play. The Battle Arena allows for up to another three players to enjoy the game in a multitude of ways with their own customised Bakugan decks, and that together with a high number of creatures to unlock and purchase through play (though many are simple colour re-skins for the six attributes), leaves multiplayer carrying the mantle quite confidently. Some kind of online component would have added untold longevity to Battle Brawlers, but for something that may well become a yearly thing, there's more than enough to keep you going until the next.

Screenshot for Bakugan Battle Brawlers on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Remote use is effective and unintimidating for young fans, with only motion-throws hiccuping, and the game is replicated very faithfully on the big screen. Story mode and a large number of varying monster and card tools at your disposal keeps things fresh.

Graphics

Luscious cel-shaded visuals that provide more than a few eye-striking moments, with imaginative monster and arena design for what surprisingly becomes quite the looker.

Sound

Well-presented voice acting to help move things along, and pumping backing tracks for battles. There isn't a large number of tracks, but enough to stop sound getting too repetitive.

Value

Multiplayer is Battle Brawlers' saving grace after the story eventually concludes, and whilst an online feature would have been greatly appreciated, fans will still get a lot out of this.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

As a game that most would assume to be a money-spinning cash-in at first glance, Battle Brawlers delivers quite the surprise when given a chance. Clear improvements are needed for future editions, but for what it is, this is a very good start for both Activision and a relatively young franchise to videogames, and a must play for any fan. Bakugan - Brawl!

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06.01.2010

4

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Developer

Activision

Publisher

Activision

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date TBA   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?
bakugan brawler (guest) 07.01.2010 10:42#1

i bet i can beat you in a battle in bakugan

bakugan brawler (guest) said:
i bet i can beat you in a battle in bakugan

And I bet you\'re some 8 year old loser.

It looks REALLY REALLY nice, but I still see Bakugan as another Beyblade or B-Daman (that\'s 3 that start with the letter \"B\"), with little figures turning into giant monsters, battling in some imaginary world while the only battling in the real world is adding 2+2. It\'s a TV series based on a game. There\'s no manga, a somewhat imaginative yet overused plot, and it\'s mainly popular with little LITTLE kids.

But if you guys really, REALLY like it, I may give the video game a try once it becomes cheap(which won\'t take long).

( Edited 07.01.2010 20:19 by Jimmy! )

It requires great courage to look at oneself honestly, and forge one's own path.


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