Bakugan. It’s a name I’ve heard in the world of anime, but honestly, I’ve never watched the shows. However, having seen the news about the upcoming release of Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia on Nintendo Switch it grabbed my attention and intrigued me. On first glance, it looked extremely similar to the latest Pokémon games, with a few different mechanics. But what are our early impressions? Let’s find out.
So far, I’ve played the game over a couple of hours, and I’m still confused as to what Bakugan are, why they’ve even arrived on Earth and the whole point of battling them. For that reason, I have started watching the show to help me understand Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia a little more.
Luckily though, the game itself is easy to pick up and follow, with the help of a pretty thorough tutorial. The game starts with a little clip of an object crashing down from space into a small woodland. You then begin your journey by picking your name and customising your character, followed by a short clip of your character playing a game of soccer. You take a shot at goal in the final seconds, only to hit the post, leaving the game as a draw (you don’t actually find out the score sadly).
Once over, you are able to run around the pitch and the outside of your school, one of the many areas you can visit in the game. Your first quest is to go and meet your friends and chat with them, but it’s worthwhile chatting to everyone around, as they may have helpful information or other side quests for you as you progress through Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia.
After catching up with your friends, you decide to head through the forest to your secret hideout. On the way, you find a strange glowing object in the ground and decide to investigate. Not surprisingly, it’s a Bakugan, your very first one. You get to pick from a selection available, each one a different element. In a move that is better than the options you get on Pokémon though, Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia lets you pick a Brawler from any of the six available types in the game, as opposed to limiting you to a select few.
What is a little confusing, having never watched any of the Bakugan shows though is the fact that on first glance, it seems like there is a lot of different Bakugan to choose from. And considering how many Pokémon there are to collect in any one game, that seemed normal. But as I progressed, it turns out there aren’t in fact that many, instead, each monster if you will, is duplicated six times, with one being available in every element. Which just seems bizarre to me, but once I watch the show maybe this will make more sense for my review.
From here, you track down a local school kid who is supposedly ‘the best brawler” at the school. He helps teach you a little more about Bakugan and sends you on a quest to find out what happened to his posters for a school Bakugan tournament. So, you do as you’re told and make your way around town, picking up the odd side quest as you go. You can identify these, as well as battles by seeing a small blue exclamaiton mark above people’s heads. Butt like I say, chat to everyone, because they can give you clues to find more Brawlers, and give you items like new abilities.
Once you complete the main questline, you’ll eventually get to battle in a tournament, although you will have faced fights along the way before then. Just don’t want to spoil too much of the story for you. And it’s these fights where the game differs greatly from similar titles in the genre. Rather than just having two opponents and selecting moves. You actually run around the ground below these massive beasts. Collecting energy discs that appear on the ground. These energy discs power up your attacks.
But be careful, as you need to think strategically. Each element is strong and weak against others, think of it like Rock, Paper, Scissors. One will always beat the other unless you’re smart. You can activate one buff on yourself and a negative effect on the enemy, but no point worrying about them if you’re not dishing out damage with your attacks. Luckily, you can have up to three Bakugan at any one time, and they switch pretty much instantly with no need to give up a turn in battle to do so. Although the Brawler you switch too, won’t have any energy until you collect those discs.
If you manage to stack up the energy to full on each of your Bakugan, then you’ll be ready to launch a team attack. An unstoppable show of force that can wipe out any beast that stands before you. Whether that is the case the further you get down the line when facing stronger opponents, I’m not entirely sure, but we will find out.
I have to say, I have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far, but there are a few questions the game has raised really. For one, after each battle, your Bakugan can level up, and when they hit a certain level they can Evo. Not there just yet so not entirely sure what that means, although talking to random folk has offered some small insight. But, despite this, I can’t seem to find any kind of XP earned from battles that makes theym level up. You literally just get shown a bar that keeps progressing the more battles you complete. So, it would be nice for that to be more detailed.
And as I mentioned earlier too, I’m not really a fan of the show, in fact, I’m clueless on it. And I know this will have been made for fans of the series, but, a little more introduction to what Bakugan are and why they’re here would be a nice touch, although the latter may be unveiled further down the line in fairness, as it’s still early days in terms of my story progression.
But what I’m seeing so far, as a neutral in terms of how accurately it portrays the show because I’ve never seen it, it’s actually quite enjoyable. Mechanics are similar to other games in the genre as mentioned, but I think Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia does enough to stand out by mixing things up, especially with the battle system.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia information
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is being developed by WayForward and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game is due for release on the Nintendo Switch on November 3rd, 2020. You can find more info on the game on the official website HERE. And if you’d like to check out more of our game previews, click right HERE.