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After Pokemania took the entire world by storm with its massive merchandising empire of video game, anime, card game, plushies, and more, companies started to look for ways to copy that success. They managed to come up with a very basic formula that has ruled toy stores for the past decade: TV show for hype, toys for the kids to play, and finally a video game to keep them interested while the new toy line rolls out. Series that have followed this include Yu-Gi-Oh, BeyBlade, B-Daman, and now, Bakugan, which seems to take absolutely every concept from the previous kid obsessions and throws it into one giant pile.
Bakugan: Battle Brawlers is the first video game to come out of the Bakugan hype, and as somebody with no experience in Bakugan at all, I was entirely clueless as to what lay ahead of me. After the anime styled intro, you start the game off by creating your own personal character. All of your choices (hair style, shirt, and pants) make you look like a cartoon background character, but it's the first time that I can think of where a licensed children's game such as this has allowed you to make a personal avatar for use in the game. After you finalize everything, it's time for the tutorial.
Wow. It's a wonder how kids can remember all these rules. The objective is to get 3 G-Cards (Gate Cards). You and your opponent play down a G-Card onto a field. You then throw a marble-monster onto the field, guiding him to the G-Card you want. Once the marble-monster lands on the card, it transforms into a Bakugan. After each person gets their Bakugan onto the same card, then you duel. Each Bakugan has different stats, and there are different bonus cards you can use to enhance your stats. Then you get one of several mini games (shake the Wii Remote, shot a bunch of symbols on the screen) for an added bonus. After all that, the winner of the duel gets the card. Lather, rinse, repeat until somebody has 3 cards.
Suffice to say after that short tutorial, I still didn't have the rules figured out completely. It took me a few rounds, but I finally understood the rules. It was at that point I realized that most of the people who are going to be playing this game already know the rules and are probably slaughtering it while I'm struggling with the complexity. After each battle, you can go to the store and purchase new, more powerful Bakugan. The story is pretty generic kiddy-anime; there's an evil man trying to destroy the universe and it's up to a group of spunky kids to save everything with their magical cards/marble-monsters/friendship. The Wii version's control setup is pretty simple; it's point and click with the Wii remote, with the occasional shaking for the mini-game.
Bakugan: Battle Brawlers is, simply enough, a video game form of the physical board/card game that every ten year old boy is playing right now. As such, they will absolutely eat it up, absorb it, and unlock everything within two days. After they're done with that, they can get up to three other friends over and play the multiplayer. Multiplayer will help extend the life of the game for at least a few weeks, until the next big fad comes along, or at least the new Bakugan cards come out in stores. As a game for fans, it's perfect.
Platform(s):Wii (Reviewed), DS, PS3, Xbox 360, PS2