Trading card games have been around for a long time. Different phases of fads with in the genre. Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh and now Bakugan. Bakugan is perhaps the least card oriented trading card game to become popular in the recent years. With popular trading card games comes the games based on them, which is where Bakugan Battle Brawlers by Activision for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and the Wii, which is what I’ll be reviewing today.
Bakugan Battle Brawlers starts out on a bad point, with it the anime series’ voice actors and silly story. The voice acting in this game comes largely from the anime series, which is horrid. High pitched always excited and chipper or the polar opposite. The voice actors for the game take the most boring and typical character voices and does nothing with them but make muting the TV a great suggestion that’ll leave you missing absolutely nothing of merit.
The game’s story is largely an after thought in this game. Your character is a big fan of the Bakugan game and meets his heroes, who are the main characters in the show. He becomes friends with them and battles with them, finding his own little talking sphere. The talking sphere is violent and brooding and there’s not really much of a reason to read much into it. The story is merely a MacGuffin to drive the game through the various items and levels, having little effect on the actual game.
The gameplay in the game is a mixed bag. In the Wii version you use a lot of swinging and aiming of the screen to play the game. At first it’s not so bad, setting up cards for strategy and placing your little Bakugan in proper areas or trying to knock out others away from your cards and such. What becomes overly apparent after half a dozen battles is that there’s not really much beyond what you do at the start to the end of the game. Which is where the mini-games come in.
During each battle the game tosses you into a mini-game. Either you shoot at little emblems that correspond to your Bakugan’s, shake the remote like you’re having a seizure, or do a timing game like DDR or Guitar Hero. They really have nothing to do with the actual battle, but are simply there to break up the monotony of the game and stretch out the time you waste as much as possible, which the game does a lot through overly long animations every 30 seconds.
A large part of the game after the first arena is maneuvering your Bakugan around the ridiculously large and annoyingly intricate arena to get onto certain strategically placed cards or picking up various powers ups. This would probably be fun if the Bakugan didn’t handle like bricks. Turning the Bakugan left and right takes miles of space to do so and trying to figure out exactly where your Bakugan is pointing when doing a u-turn is almost impossible. You’d probable have more luck turning a bowling ball as it rolls down a lane by making hand gestures at it than you would handling the Bakugan. This makes those intricate arenas a giant pain in the butt and often just better to do a quick shot at the objective rather than picking up the power ups.
The only really redeemable quality of the game is the graphics. The models are fairly well done and look just like what you(or more likely your kid) remember them looking like from the anime. In particular, the Bakugan models and their battle forms are of notable quality and look relatively interesting. The small collection of customizable settings you can use for your character are well done, but isn’t extremely interesting. The animation isn’t as great, with the lip syncing hardly ever really matching up, making any time someone talks into an almost comically bad karate movie.
When it comes down to it there’s only one reason for this game, kids who play the card game. The pointless story, bad voice acting, monotonous gameplay and poor controls really won’t make a difference because of the series. The only reason why you should be looking at this game is if your kid enjoys the game, in which case it wouldn’t matter if the game has good graphics or not, just that it has the characters they know from a series they’re insane about. If that’s the reason, then get it, because it won’t really make a difference if the game is horrible or not, they’ll probably love it either way. However if you’re interested and aren’t familiar with the game, avoid Bakugan Battle Brawlers as much as possible.