Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is the first Bakugan game in nine years and the first game based on the animated reboot of the franchise. Developed by Wayforward, this is a game that embraces the world that the reboot made and will be a good one for younger fans of the new series. Unfortunately though, the gameplay being restricted to how the reboot changed the franchise has left it in a lackluster state that can be incredibly repetitive.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia’s core gameplay loop is reminiscent of Pokémon where you travel around and partake in battles with monsters and work your way to be the very best. Unfortunately though, the battles feel really slow and frustrating to handle at times due to the core mechanics of how they work. In battle, you actually control the player character collecting glowing hexagons that provide energy to your bakugan so they can perform an attack or a status move where you buff yourself, debuff your opponent or heal damage. There is some strategy to the bakugan moves but that is undermined from the fact that energy is collected and not naturally there with limited use. While your character is running around collecting the energy panels the bakugan do small little attack animations so they aren’t standing there in the idle animation. However no damage is done so it does feel a little frustrating to watch especially when the opponent is left on a very small amount of health. Factors like those are what really make battles feel like a chore
Outside of battles, the game is simply walking around and the management of your team which is basically just upgrading their abilities. The game also includes side quests however, a lot of it is just busy work of just collecting random things and more often than not, the side quests repeat in each sub area. I did encounter a couple of minor bugs where you exit a smaller sub area like a shop and it would just end up putting you back in the shop; while not game breaking, it is a bit on the annoying side of things to deal with.
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World / Level Design
Bakugan is separated into different sub areas, each being distinct in their own way. Some of them even fit the theme of a certain type of bakugan, like the water ones being prevalent at the beach or nature ones at the park. This makes each area feel unique, even if there isn’t anything different gameplay-wise within each sub area. Overall, the game’s level design has a variety of visual differences backed up by thematic Bakugan battles but other than that, each area has the same general layout and quests.
Story / Personality
The goal of your character is to participate in the Bakugan tournaments and get to the city finals. As you make your way through the tournaments, you get access to different areas of the city from the City Center to the local beach. Each of these areas have their own little mini story and yet overall, the story is there with nothing of note sticking out. Like mentioned previously, this is suitable for kids due to the simplicity of the plot and repetitive dialogue from NPCs.
Graphics / Art Direction
Graphically, there isn’t too much to be impressed about however, the art style is as close as possible to the style from the show. The best aspect of this game is the character models. The NPCs all have varied designs and are something the player can emulate in the character creator by purchasing various clothing. In combat when the Bakugan are full sized, you get a great look at each of their faithfully transferred designs which does look cool in the kaiju-esque battles.
Music / Sound Design
The music during combat is made to create an epic atmosphere that gets you hyped up but unfortunately, it repeats for every battle which means it tends to lose all impression towards the end of the game. Add in that battles drag on for what feels like an eternity and the combat music just lacks any impression eventually. Although, the ambient music for the sub areas couple well with the themes for each location, providing a natural fit.
Final Score: 69%
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is a game made for younger fans of Bakugan and yet, it is quite buggy on the game’s release copy and a lot of the game is relatively mediocre. A good character creator is a competent redeeming quality and the NPC character models and the Bakugan help keep things visually interesting. Overall though, I can only recommend the game to kids who enjoy the series as the gameplay is very slow and often repetitive.
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