Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia Review – A Kids Delight
It’s been a few days since Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia launched on Nintendo Switch. As we had a lot on our plate with upcoming console launches and tech drops, we are a bit late to the party on the review front. From what I’ve read this week, I’m actually a bit shocked. Could a game that Nintendo gave so much love to by featuring it in a Nintendo video fall so short? According to reviewers yes, but after at least a dozen hours, my kids have provided an emphatic, no.
What is Bakugan you might ask? Well, if you are reading this and that’s your question, I’m going to assume right away that Champions of Vestroia is not for you. In fact, if you are over the ago of 12 or 13, I’m going to say that this Bakugan title is not for you. Here is what Spin Master Toys has to say about Bakugan on their website,
Answer the call to brawl! Watch Dan Kouzo and the Awesome Brawlers battle alongside amazing Bakugan monsters in the hit TV show! You can even become the ultimate Bakugan master by collecting Bakugan toys and cards to battle against your friends!
Thanks to our friends at Spin Master, my kids have actually been able to play with many of the franchises toys over the past two years. The game seems simple enough. Player throw their Bakugan toys into an arena, hoping to either pop open themselves (while their opponent stays wrapped up in a ball), or should they both open up, to have collected better BakuCores on the arena floor. The video game takes a slightly different approach. Players will launch their Bakugan into battle, and then run around the playing field as themselves, collecting the BakuCores lying on the ground to power up their monsters.
Once enough cores have been collected, one of 4 possible moves becomes available – just like in other monster fighting games – at which point one monster can attack the other, reducing their hit points. You can cycle through your available Bakugan and change up who’s out fighting, but the game play mechanics while in battle remain the same throughout.
Outside of battle, you will explore the world of Bakugan. You can help various locals with tasks related, or unrelated, to Bakugan themselves. You can fight various folks, collect new Bakugan, and explore new areas. While not as in-depth as something like Yo-Kai Watch, it’s fits a good balance that is easily accessible to kids of all ages. Mine are 6 and 11, and both were able to enjoy everything Bakugan had to offer. And ultimately, that is the goal here.
Let’s head back to those lousy review scores. If I was a single guy, I’d probably be scoring Bakugan a 3 or a 4/10. The load times are frustratingly long, and as of writing, there were a number of glitches throughout the experience, some which actually forced me to restart the game. Environments are a bit bland, and unlike Pokemon (which I’m much more familiar with), there wasn’t a hook that kept me coming back. Full disclosure, I quit about 2 hours in.
For an adult gamer, there is so much missing and so much disappointment. Evolved Bakugan don’t have any changes in their appearance, just stat boosts. And many of the Bakugan in each of the 5 elemental types feel very much the same. You’d hope for some strategic options within fights, but there isn’t much there. In fact, my kids found it almost impossible to lose. And let’s not even get started on the multiplayer. What could have been so much more was dwarfed into a mode I’d likely never touch.
But I will say it again. Bakugan isn’t for me. It’s not an excuse to provide a bad experience, however, and so some of these issues will reflect in our score. But at the end of the day, this isn’t for adults, or even older teens.
So what about my kids? Are they enjoying Bakugan? Well, 14.5 hours in, and they are still playing. Do they notice long load times? Sure they do. Do they notice the gameplay hiccups? Of course. Do they care about bland environments? No. Do they care about a lackluster story? No. All they care about is playing Bakugan, and on that front, SpinMaster and WayForward have delivered in spades. The battle animations are cool, and my kids enjoy seeing them all, each and every time. The collect them all mentality is here also, for younger audiences, and since my kids have some knowledge of hte various toys, it was fantastic to see them collect their favourites in the game.
In short, they love it.
And because they love it, we are giving Bakugan: Champion of Vestroia a 7.5/10!