Remember back in July when Nintendo teased a new third-party game for the Switch and it turned out to be Wayforward’s Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia? The actual game is nearly as disappointing as the announcement turned out to be. Not only does it have the most tedious Bakugan battles ever, we don’t even get to see the transforming monsters transform.
Spin Master’s Bakugan is basically a mix of toys and trading card game. Each creature starts off as a small toy ball which, when thrown onto the playing surface, pops out into a cool little critter like a dragon, dinosaur, insect, or robot-looking thing. Players draw cards and compare stats to determine who winds up winning.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, released back on November 3, is a simplified version of the physical game. You create a simple avatar, who collects and battles Bakugan with the aim to become the very best, like no one ever was. You set their skills, form a team of three, and engage in battles against other teams. Each massive Bakugan battler has a series of abilities that require energy to use. In order to collect energy you must run about the battlefield picking up randomly appearing energy tiles and throwing them to your fighter. Meanwhile, your opponent also runs about the battlefield, attempting to pick up the energy tiles for their creatures. Frustration and boredom ensues. Watch me battle below. Feel free to skip around; the fights take too damn long anyway.
Again, note how the Bakugan, based on a transforming toy, don’t so much transform as they instantaneously shift from one form to the other, bursting forth from their balls like discount Pokémon. And how exciting is jogging about the soccer field while massive critters swipe ineffectually at one another in the background, waiting for you to toss them some fuel? There’s nothing like the drama of slowly running towards an energy tile only to have your opponent slowly run there first, forcing you to slowly run towards a completely different energy tile.
Later in the game you can purchase trainer skills for your character that do things like make you slower on the field in exchange for picking up energy tiles automatically instead of having to hit a button. Those abilities can make battles a bit more dynamic. I can’t imagine they ever get more exciting.
Props to developer Wayforward Technologies for attempting to spice up bargain-basement Pokémon battles by giving trainers something to do between commanding creatures to attack. In the case of Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, however, I’d probably have preferred waiting quietly for an energy meter of some sort to fill. Certainly would have been more stimulating.