Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia review: Baku to the drawing board

by MaddOx
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We’ve had a week or so since our preview of Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia went live. So, after putting some more time into the game, what are we thinking? Let’s go and find out, shall we?

We didn’t go into too much detail in our preview of Champions of Vestroia, as we didn’t want to spoil things for those looking forward to the game. If you’re a fan of the series and looking forward to this, you’ll understand completely what is going on and it jumps right into the story from the off. However, no thought has been given to newbies like myself, even to the point that you have no idea what a Bakugan is. It wouldn’t have taken much to set this up nicely, but if you’ve never seen the show before, you will have to piece together what is going on by yourself.

Luckily, the story isn’t that complex, but neither is it that interesting. It seems like developer WayForward has tried to create a new type of Bakugan game with Champions of Vestroia, moulded in the image of the current crop of Pokémon games we have at our disposal. And although we shouldn’t compare, as they are different franchises, maybe a lesson or two could be learnt about how to introduce new players and how to develop a story that will have players new and old, gripped. Rather than being disinterested.

As mentioned in the preview, Champions of Vestroia although a little confusing to those not well-acquainted with the series, does at least have a decent tutorial system in terms of gameplay. Advice crops up in the form of ViewTube popups, no need to explain what that’s a replica of. These popups explain how the mechanics work in the game, and do cover a fair amount of what you need to do. But not everything. I was unlocking lots of clothes to customise my character. But, there was no tutorial or advice for how I could put on my new threads. I had to work this out myself.

Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia BakuCore Toss Dragonoid Cyndeous Brawl

Once you got to grips with how things in Champions of Vestroia, you’re then left to go on and follow the quests of the story, and if you want to, complete side-quests too for extra rewards. However, the quests are all just going from point A to point B, maybe throwing some battles in there, and piecing bits of a story together as you go. It’d be nice to see things getting a bit more creative to freshen things up, which is a shame because the game starts off feeling promising. If you think that side-quests may freshen things up, you’d be wrong. They’re repetitive, boring, and a lot of the time has nothing to do with the game.

I think I mentioned one side-quest that I did where I had to pick up footballs from around a pitch at the start of the game in my Champions of Vestroia preview. And I thought it’s a nice little thing to settle you in and get you used to running around. But it didn’t get any better than that to be honest. They seemed mundane, and rewards are pretty pointless. Yes you may get new clothes, and some coins to purchase new abilities for your Bakugan, but it’s really not worth it. Because you end up with stacks of rewards anyway that you get given to you throughout the game whether it be by random people or people you battle.

And talking of battles, at first I liked the idea of the mini-game feature in battles, that sees you collecting energy to stack up so your Bakugan can launch an attack. But after a few hours, it becomes tedious. And whether it is randomly done, or they pop up purposely close to the player, you never seem to have to go far to pick up these energy discs. And so battles aren’t that difficult, even for a game aimed at small kids. It’s almost like they’ve deliberately made Champions of Vestroia a walk in the park, which ironically is what a number of your quests have you doing before telling you to go somewhere else.

Because of how easy the battles are they don’t last that long, especially if you master the benefits of certain Bakugan types over others. The types are Aquos, Darkus, Haos, Pyrus and Ventus, and much like the types in Pokémon each one will be strong/weak against certain other types. A simple mechanic that works well, but what did get confusing is that each Bakugan could come in the form of any type. And moves were not specific to certain monsters, just the different elemental types. So for a game that looks like there is a lot of brawling beasts to collect, there are in fact just 16, with 5 different types of each.

Bakugan: Champoins of Vestroia Team Attack Brawl

The moves used do have some cool animations during battles, but again, they soon wear thin as you’re very limited to the moves available. There aren’t even special attacks for each Bakugan, just the team attack you can launch if you power up every Bakugan in your team. Even something as small as having maybe a signature move, would have been something that would’ve delayed the inevitable staleness of what I had to endure.

Keeping with the subject of the Bakugan beasts, there was one thing I was looking forward to from my preview of Champions of Vestroia. Evolution. I’d fought many battles and slowly saw my Bakugan progressing, even though I had no idea what it was that was levelling them up as I couldn’t see any XP bars or something to indicate progress to the next level. Then came the moment I hit that evolution point, and here was me excited to see what would happen to my magnificent beasts.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Bugger all. Yep, nothing happened to my monsters. Well, that’s a lie, but besides a slight boost to their health and power, every Bakugan looked exactly as it did before. Absolutely wounding after the work you put in. It builds it up like something is coming, and you’re on the edge of your seat to maybe see a special form of your Bakugan. But nope. And that for me, summed up Champions of Vestroia for me. Full of promise, but delivers nothing but disappointment.

The two redeeming qualities of the game are that it plays well both docked and in handheld mode and that it looks good. Many games feel natural in one mode, but sometimes not the other, but Champions of Vestroia in fairness, hits the mark on both styles of play. I was pleasantly surprised with the visuals in both modes too, they are nice and clean, bright and colourful, make it look the real deal. Sadly, the content just isn’t there to back it up.

Bakugan Champions of Vestroia battle gameplay

Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia overall thoughts

Much like the parcel I was expecting today from Amazon, Champions of Vestroia fails to deliver the goods. It has a lot of potential, and actually looks the part, but the content isn’t there to back it up. It’s like everything that WayForward has done that seems positive, it’s unfinished or that little bit more hasn’t been done to polish things off. Even as a game for kids, Champions of Vestroia is too basic, easy and repetitively boring after a few hours of gameplay. It’s a shame, because there is a lot of promise, even for non-fans of the series. If

If the developers had just done that little bit more to introduce people into the world and what’s actually going on, freshened up the story and made tasks a little less mundane, and hadn’t oversold the actual Bakugan by just duplicating them all and building up to an evolution that never happens, this would have been a much better game.

You may get some minimal enjoyment out of it as a fan of the series, but if not, you can definitely spend your money better elsewhere.

Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is developed by WayForward and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It is available to buy now on Nintendo Switch. Click HERE to check out some more of our game reviews.

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