If you haven't guessed by now, Bakugan: Battle Brawlers
is based on the animated TV series of the same name. Take equal parts Pokemon
and you have yourself the recipe for what Bakugan
wants to be, a monster-collecting, card-based, mini-game adventure. (Exhales) There are many different elements of genres at play here. It isn't a concept that jumps out right away, but after a few hours, battling Bakugan
actually becomes much easier to comprehend.
Bakugan are giant creatures that are trapped inside of tiny plastic balls. Young kids love to collect Bakugan to show off like the rich kid with a new bike. However, the imprisoned monsters are released from their ball when placed on top of a Gate Card. When the monsters were first freed, battling was born and so was the addictive craze of collecting more cards to modify the creatures.
The story of Bakugan: Battle Brawlers involves a great Battle Brawler named Dan, who befriends your created character and shows you the ropes of battling your monsters. A special Bakugan named Leonidas crashes from space before your character and the two of you become partners to help Leonidas fight a great evil. Of course, the best way to fight evil in the world of Bakugan is to host strictly regulated card battle tournaments for money. Most of the story, what little there is, comes from the tournaments throughout the adventure.
Each battle is fought in an arena where each person fighting has their own corner. There are three main game types: One vs. One, Two vs. Two, and a Four-way Free for all. Each type follows the same basic formula and rarely strays from the basics.
A grid appears over the play field indicating where you can place your cards. There are two types of cards: gate cards and modifier cards. Gate cards are played at the beginning of a match. After placing your gate card, you need to throw your Bakugan onto one of the cards to be unleashed. If the Bakugan lands on a card, then it "stands" and attempts to claim that space for itself. If two Bakugan from the same team "stand" on the one card, the card is captured and that team player earns one point. It is also possible to capture cards by battling an enemy Bakugan that is "standing" on the same card. The first person to three points wins the match.
If two rival Bakugan are standing on the same card, then a battle occurs where a quick mini-game is played which fills an attack gauge. Before each battle, there is a chance to play the modifier cards that are earned on the road to champions that will enhance the attack gauge and other stats. Some cards focus on attack power, others focus on defense, and particularly fiendish cards affect the mini-game in adverse ways. Once the modifiers are set, the actual battle takes place. The mini-games available during the battles are "Time Attack," "Shooting Battle," and "Shaking Battle," all of which last around 10 seconds and play just as they sound. After each battle, both Bakugan are retired from play regardless of who wins until the next round starts.
The simple battles of Bakugan are the meat of the entire experience and I actually started to enjoy them after a while. Your custom character earns money that can be spent at an in-game item store for new Bakugan, new cards, or to upgrade existing Bakugan in your collection. The store is located on the overworld screen, which is where the collection room, tournament brackets, and practice arenas can be found too. Keeping up with your card deck is crucial to getting better because the computer A.I. doesn't pull punches sometimes, and even though you have sank all of your money into maxing out one card, each match still has two other cards that can be played, so it wise to spread the upgrades evenly.