The anime television show Bakugan is relentlessly repetitive, framing long, showy fights with thin plot and cheesy dialogue. So if the goal of the Bakugan: Battle Brawlers videogame was to replicate the show’s formula, they nailed it.
Characters in Battle Brawlers use cards that fell from space, and alien monsters that take the form of palm-sized balls, to battle other kids in Bakugan matches and tournaments. The story, penned by the show’s writers, involves a plot to control all the Bakugan in the world, but your character seems just as concerned with defeating neighborhood kids and making friends with the show’s protagonists as he does with fighting evil.
Game play combines strategies common to other collectible card games with a series of mini-games. You build decks, each featuring three Bakugan and cards that provide boosts for your monsters and help set the terms of the battle.
But deck-building strategy only gets you so far. To play a Bakugan, you need to aim and throw balls onto cards, steering them to land where you want. Opponents have to do the same thing, and players have the opportunity to shoot at the balls as they move, to throw them off course. The skills can be mastered with practice, but the main result is extending every fight.
Once two creatures share a card, you compare stats and engage in a mini-game to determine which monster one-shots the other. The three randomly selected options are a music-game style match where players press buttons as they line up with notes onscreen, a shooter where you must hit specific symbols, and a contest of who can shake the controller faster. Sometimes this is a frustratingly meaningless waste of time, as the games are only capable of changing things if the margin between the stats is relatively narrow. At least the shooter and rhythm game involve some skill. The shaking game will just make your arm tired.
Since the main draw is fighting tons of battles, expect to do a lot of grinding. Money from winning matches is needed to buy or upgrade Bakugan, and you’ll often want multiple copies of the same creature with different elemental affinities that make them better against opposing decks.
In spite of the flaws, it’s clear that a lot of work went into Battle Brawlers. The show’s cast does the voice acting, and every card available in the real world is in the game. It’s likely to appeal to players who love the show, and turn anyone else off.