|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Now Production||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The currency system is the game's most tedious element, but fans of the card game will like it. When you earn money, you can upgrade your Bakugan (adding not only HP but also things like jump height and steering ability), buy new Bakugan, and add cards to your collection. Some Bakugan are better suited for certain arenas, so when you unlock a new battleground, you'll often have to build a whole new fighting force and supporting deck to use there.
You can play games alone or with up to three friends (local only), but the main focus here is the story mode, which starts with you designing your character. From there it's just a chain of matches for the most part (some are official tournaments, while others are friendly battles in the park), with some cutscenes thrown in. The story is that Bakugan started falling from the sky, and kids, not realizing their powers, started playing a game with them. As you progress, the story unfolds and new arenas, difficulty levels, tournaments, and park opponents unlock. Before each match, you can adjust your opponent's skill level, so if things get too hard toward the end, you can tone it down.
The cel-shaded anime graphics are impressive, giving the game a look very similar to that of the TV show. The Bakugan are surprisingly detailed, especially in the final cutscene of each battle, when the winner viciously attacks the loser. These cutscenes don't change from battle to battle, but that's another matter. The arenas are dazzling in their color and complexity.
The game's biggest flaw is that there are way too many animations and snippets of dialogue. To be fair, you can skip the awful story cutscenes, but it's simply annoying that every time you go to a different menu, your character feels the need to babble about your options. Not to mention that every single character has to say a cheesy line after every battle. You can turn off the voices from the main menu, but this game still could have used an option to automatically skip all the non-gameplay screens. Then again, maybe children will like the constant yapping more than this curmudgeonly adult reviewer did.
We have some smaller complaints as well. For one, the Japanese dance-pop music is obnoxious. For another, the facial animations look like they come from South Park.
To be sure, this game is aimed at a niche audience of kids who already like Bakugan, and it has its share of flaws. On the whole, though, it gives those kids exactly what they want: A reasonably deep deck-building and card-collecting system, coupled with some simple, engaging platforming and mini-game challenges. For the right child, these features make Bakugan: Battle Brawlers a perfect gift.
CCC Freelance Writer