Title: Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action RPG
One look at Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, and you’ll probably know if it’s a game for you or not. The interesting thing about the entire experience is that it is largely directed towards younger audiences. In that regard, we have a fairly basic RPG with straightforward menus and systems that fans of any age can understand. However, if you’re looking for a substantial RPG narrative told within the Bakugan universe, you’re going to be disappointed.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia allows players to create their own avatar for this adventure set in the town of San Barbaras. There is minimal exposition as you lose a soccer game and then meet up with your friends to head home. On your way back, you discover a meteor-like object that is actually a Bakugan, and your world is changed forever. Now, this trio of friends are huge Bakugan fans, so we can dwell on how they each don’t have Bakugan, even though most of their friends do, and how sometimes Bakugan can be found around the map, but for the sake of the story, let’s just roll with it.
After the opening, you learn more about battling and meet a few characters to enter tournaments where you become the best Brawler in town. However, there are also some issues with earthquakes around town, but honestly, I’ll be impressed if you make it that far with even a small understanding of what is going on.
The narrative itself is told through one or two text boxes at a time. It mostly revolves around go here to talk to this person, then go here to talk to this person, then Bakugan Brawl! To be honest, you will be in a fight about 80% of your time playing this game, so if you don’t know what’s going on in the story, don’t worry too much; it doesn’t really matter. The only reason you’d want to progress through the story is to unlock new clothing, abilities, and Bakugan.
As I said before, a lot of your time will be in Bakugan Brawls, but this isn’t only because there are tons of people who want to fight, but mostly because some fight can take around 10 – 15 minutes to finish. At first, this isn’t a big deal, but then you enter one of the game’s dungeons and are forced to fight five different brawlers back-to-back, which is when I realized I was not too fond of the battle system.
During a fight, you can equip up to three different Bakugan, and you and your opponent throw the starter on the field. While these towering beasts fight it out, you’re tasked with picking up cores off the ground to charge up the actual attacks that cause damage. This is complete RNG since these cores’ appearance and placement is completely random throughout the entire fight. Your opponent is doing the same thing, but I found the AI to not really be that aggressive for the most part. Still, they always seemed to be better at collecting the cores than me.
The battles are prolonged further because you’re stuck watching the same attack animations over and over again. Bakugan each share attacks as long as they are the same elements. While a Bakugan type can vary in element, there’s very little difference. Two Bakugan of the same color will fight almost the same. During the story, more attacks are discovered. Still, nothing really stops these fights from being extremely long and tedious, especially if your opponent has three Bakugan that need to be defeated to progress.
There are RPG elements, such as equipping new attacks to your Bakugan line up and leveling them up, but let me remind you that this requires more fighting. Many people around town want to fight, too, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to collect everything. Things outside of battles are just side-quests that revolves around collecting items or finding a certain person. Everything you do is rewarded with coins that can be used to purchase enhancements items. While there are items that make cores appear closer to you or allow you to pick them up faster, I found the Haste shoes work best to get the fights over as quickly as possible.
Graphically, Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is decent and has a fairly robust map that can be explored. However, these areas can get a little too vast, which will have you wishing for a quick travel option as quests send you back-and-forth across the various maps. Sometimes, I’d forget that the game even has music until I get into a Brawl and loop of the battle theme plays endlessly. There are some ambient noises in the background, but for the most part, this is almost a music-less game.
I need to keep in mind that this is a game for children, and with that, I find Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia to be an easy-to-digest RPG. The only thing required is running around and fighting with your favorite Bakugan. To that point, it’s almost harmless, and the straightforward battle system that only requires you to collect cores until you charged an attack can be easily understood for young fans.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is a tedious and almost mindless adventure that will leave you staring at the screen, wondering if it will ever get better. Sadly, it doesn’t. However, its systems are easy enough for a younger fan of the series to enjoy and receive a starter course in RPG systems. The biggest compliment I can give the game is that it works, but other than that, this Bakugan Brawl isn’t as epic as it could have been.
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