Bakugan stands with Pokemon and Digimon as one of the staple creature collecting/battling franchises. Bursting onto the scene in the mid 2000s, Bakugan exploded in popularity, primarily due to the magnetic-based toys that kids collected and traded. Over a decade later and Bakugan still has quite the dedicated fan base. The property is receiving yet another video game adaptation with Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia. Developed by WayForward games, this title sees players going on a journey to become Champion of Vestroia.
A new hero
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia follows the story of a young character encountering Bakugan for the first time in-person, setting them on a path to become one of the most renowned trainers in Vestroia. The story follows the standard formula of a no-name kid growing into a powerful/successful trainer. It’s not bad, but typical. It would have been really cool to see Champions fo Vestroia take a left turn and try something weird or different with the series.
Players create their own characters and name them. The base options are fairly limited, as there aren’t too many ways to diversify your character outside of skin tone. That being said, there are a ton of customization options as players progress through the game.
Players can visit different stores to pick up clothes and accessories to wear around the world. While it’s cool to dress your character to your liking, it’s even cooler to coordinate your style with your beloved Bakugan. I enjoyed putting together an all-green outfit to match my Trox. There are also barber shops where players can purchase additional hairstyles. I was thankful for this, as I was unimpressed with the initial hairstyling options.
A world of mystery
I was quite impressed with the visual and audio design in Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia. With the source material being an animated series, rather than a book or older game, expectations are rightfully high. However, the characters and creatures in Champions of Vestroia look great. The Bakugan themselves look like they were plucked directly out of the Battle Brawlers series. They look great in 2D, and in battle when fully modeled in 3D. It’s an aspect of the property that can be easily botched, but is well executed by WayForward.
As with other properties of its kind, the music and sounds are important to the identity of Bakugan. In Champions of Vestroia, the sound design delivers on what you want from a Bakugan game. The intense tunes make battles feel more epic and exciting, while also putting a unique stance on the world’s different areas and environments.
Becoming a champion
The heart of the Bakugan is its creatures and the battles held between them. This stays true in Champions of Vestroia, as battling is a core mechanic throughout the game. After befriending different Bakugan, players can build up teams and take them into battle. In these battles, Bakugan will earn experience and level up.
Each Bakugan has unique stats that dictate how they perform in battle. This includes attributes like health and strength. Each Bakugan falls under one of six classes, which determines the creature's weaknesses and resistances in battle. Players must grab energy discs from the ground to power up their Bakugan’s moves. It’s touted as being deep and complex, but overall it’s not too different from what we see in games like Pokemon, just with a little less variety.
The battles are solid, as we get to witness the action go down in-world. This is something I found really cool when playing through Bakugan: Champion of Vestroia. The Bakugan are massive, towering over the human characters like some sort of mini kaiju. You can even run around the playing field during battle, showcasing the sheer scale of these creatures.
Experienced players can take their skills online to compete against other players around the world. I probably had the most excitement playing online. It’s easy to jump in matches, and they usually don’t drag on for too long. Players also offer a much better challenge, as they simply play much better than the game’s AI opponents.
A journey’s end
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is certainly the best of the recent Bakugan video game adaptations, though it’s far from a masterpiece. The world is neat, and WayForward does an excellent job with the Bakugan creatures themselves. Battling is solid, as it does a great job at mixing real-time and turn-based elements. It could have greatly benefited from some new Bakugan types for diversity’s sake, or a more unique story. Regardless, Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia will surely satisfy most fans of the franchise.
This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is available now on Nintendo Switch for $49.99
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia
- Bakugan designs are great
- Battle presentation and animations perfectly capture the show
- Online mode is simple and challenging
- Story is paint-by-numbers
- Could use new/additional Bakugan types