Developed By: Wayforward Published By: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Categories: RPG Release Date: 11.03.20
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is possibly the most disappointing game I have played this year. It is in all intents and purposes a game that developer Wayforward made to pay the bills. Wayforward is no stranger to licensed games, even making some great ones, but this one isn’t it.
So lets start with what I do like. The game’s dialogue can be quite funny at times. It might be a tad meme-ey at times, but it did get a chuckle out of me a handful of times. I also think the game is rather pleasant to look at at times, especially the models of each Bakugan. There’s also quite a bit to unlock in terms of customizing a your story mode character, through shops, random findings, and fights. Once you do have the large closet worth of clothing, there’s quite a bit to wear, and as far as I can tell, hair nor clothes is gendered.
Now that that’s out of the way, lets get to the real nitty gritty. Just near every facet of this game comes off as rushed or just plain lazy. The story, is as simple as “An earthquake, lets find out what happened, guys” and it kind of goes back and forth between that and just dawdling around with fights. While the characters are nice looking, you’ll notice something about them all. They all look as if they were made by the same character creator that your own made character. There’s no such thing as character design in the game, just characters with names and the random button hit. It’s resourceful if you have a large number of characters, but when main characters in the game look exactly like a random NPC or even the character you made, it’s an issue. There’s a decent number of Bakugan to collect, but then there’s also recolors for every one, at least 5 recolors for each as far as I’ve noticed. Of course, games like Dragon Quest Monsters or Monster Rancher have recolors, but their bestiary is also MUCH bigger and in Monster Rancher’s case, the recolors are more like mixing two of the monsters. Animations in fights are also near non-existent. One move does this animation…another the same, with the only difference between how long a move takes to charge up and it’s strength. Fight arenas at times also do not match where you’re even at.
How does this game actually play you say, like a budget monster collector. Run in the overworld, do subquests, and then fight the same fights again and again. The subquests all consist of the following chasing someone, collecting a number of something, which at one point was twenty cups in a city, all blending in to the environment, and going back and forth between loading screens to go to different areas. These aren’t fun and come off as a huge waste of time, even if I do enjoy that you receive clothing for beating them. The fights got old for me around an hour into the game. Fights revolve around you chasing around parts of the area, to throw energy at your Bakugan to charge an attack or ability (healing, stat buffs, stat nerfs for opponents) up. It’s like Pokemon with a wait time and you need to constantly be on the move. There is a weakness chart, but I never noticed a huge difference would just steamroll into fights with my original Bakugan. This all didn’t bother me. The issue is that, in combination with the lack of real variety in animations, fights all feel exactly the same. Every fight ends up turning into who can run the fastest to get their moves out first. Considering you can purchase an item that makes you move faster, it almost made most fights a joke as long as I was paying attention. The opponent can also have these items, including one that can knock you over if you walk into them, but if one is paying attention to the aura they emit, it’s a non-issue and will never even come up. The game does have a multiplayer component, but it’s just the same boring fights. And if you’re playing with a friend who just go the game, you’ll absolutely destroy them. Not fun in the least.
The environments you go around don’t look bad and some are quite big with decent enough detail, but the entire time I could not shake the feeling that they reminded me of ones from Level 5’s 3DS game LBX. The hideout and shops really made me think they were remade from that game or at least inspired. I didn’t feel any of the music really stuck with me either, which considering Wayforward, is a massive disappointment.
Some might say it’s not worth getting disappointed over games meant for kids, and the game really does drive in it’s aimed at children, but Wayforward has a history of making good to great licensed games and Champions of Vestroia does not feel like they really put their heart into it. It feels like it was made to keep the lights and heat on and it really could have been much better. If you have a kid who’s really into Bakugan, it probably will do the job for them, but for anyone else I can’t in good conscious recommend this game.
Buy Now: $49.99
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes