Bakugan: Battle Brawlers Review
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Bakugan: Battle Brawlers box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Now Productions 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

Meeting up with an opponent's Bakugan on a Gate card will take you into an actual monster battle. Gate cards also have an elemental alignment, as well as various effects that can power up a particular type of Bakugan. Each monster has a base Gate Power (GP), and if a card's alignment is in your favor, you'll get a nice bonus added onto your GP before the battle mini-game begins. Some cards will offer a double GP bonus for a certain Bakugan, while other cards might prohibit the use of Ability cards during the battle. It's an element of the game that offers just enough strategy without setting the learning curve too high.

Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot

Actual battles consist of playing through simple mini-games that range from scratching the touch screen rapidly, to tracing an icon as it loops around the screen. It's not the most compelling portion of the gameplay, but it fits alongside Battle Brawler's other components in a way that feels fun.

The last key feature of battles is the use of Ability cards. You can bring up to three of these cards with you into matches, and they'll help give you an edge during individual battles. Whereas one type of Ability card might nullify an opponent's GP bonus, another card might temporarily disable them.

There are a handful of other considerations, such as Bakugan stats and special abilities that play into the strategy of Battle Brawlers, and the game does a good job of instructing the player along the way. Unfortunately, the overall adventure is fairly shallow. You'll compete in a tournament, do a bit of shopping, go to your house to tweak your deck, and maybe stop by the park for an extra match. But the game stays on one set track the entire way through.

Visually, Battle Brawlers is pretty impressive, though the stakes have gone up considerably on DS over the years. Aside from the main hub, the game is fully rendered in 3D, and the character models are especially attractive. The anime style is represented nicely on the dual screen, but the variety is pretty sparse. There are only eight arenas to unlock for Battle Arena mode, and most of the story takes place inside one set of corridors. Still, it's a good-looking game with a fair amount of polish.

The music is a mix of heavy metal and hip-hop, all of which make a decent fit for the game's premise and intended audience. Each of the characters has an utterance or two you'll hear during interactions, but that's about the extent of the voice work. The sound effects could have been a bit stronger, considering the pinball elements of Bakugan tossing. A few punchy pings and whistles go a long way when banging bumpers and such.

Bakugan: Battle Brawlers for DS is a surprisingly respectable showing by Activision. With so many publishers putting little effort into titles aimed at the younger gaming audience, it's refreshing to see fans of this license get something worth playing. In the end, though, the lack of variety and stale pacing make this a game that's only really fun in very small doses. You can pick it up for a match or two, but most players will likely find the repetition tiresome.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

There's not a whole lot of variety in terms of visuals, but it's an attractive, anime-inspired game overall.
No particular aspect of the game's controls or mechanics are great, but the smaller bits come together to make for an enjoyable gaming experience.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The fidelity isn't outstanding, but the selection of themes matches the whole Bakugan thing fairly well. Sound effects get the job done but could have been more impactful.

Play Value
Battle Brawlers is a really tight package; it just isn't a very deep package. The story is short, and the gameplay is repetitive. The local-multiplayer component might prove to be a particularly valuable addition if you can find a friend or two with a copy of the game.

Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Over 200 player cards, including 12 never seen before.
  • Epic storyline of good vs. evil: take your side in a brand new adventure and fight with Dan to defeat evil, save Vestroia, and rescue Earth from total destruction.
  • Includes four unique characters and two unique Bakugans only available in the video game.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge Bakugan: Battle Brawlers screenshot - click to enlarge

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