Interview with Robert Conkey, Producer for Activision’s Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance

Late last month, Activision announced a new Bakugan game would be released this year. Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance marks the fourth video game based on the Bakugan franchise and the second DS exclusive game. Besides the initial announcement, not much has been released about this game. As a lot of the staff here at Diehard GameFAN enjoyed the first game, Bakugan Battle Brawlers and others, including myself, have played the other two titles, we were interested to learn more about this game and what adventures await Dan, Drago and their friends. Robert Conkey, a producer for the game was kind enough to sit down and answer some of my questions about the game.

Diehard GameFAN: This is the fourth Bakugan video game. The previous games have been developed by Now Production and Magic Pockets. We’ve yet to hear who is developing Rise of the Resistance though. Could you tell us who the development team is, a bit of background on them and why they were chosen for this game?

Robert Conkey: The development team for ROTR is Magic Pockets. They were a great fit for the project because they are very talented and hardworking, have worked with us on a Bakugan game before so they know the brand, and they also have a very solid track record in a wide variety of genres.

DHGF: What is the plot of Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance? Does it tie in to any of the previous video games or a particular season of the anime series?

RC: The story takes place in between seasons two and three of the anime series, features plot elements (such as the Sacred Orb) from season three, and a mix of Bakugan from seasons two, three, and four. It doesn’t tie into the story of any previous games directly. This time around the story is not based directly on the plot from the show, so players who are less familiar with the TV show’s story should be able to understand the plot without much of a problem. At the same time there are references to the Bakugan world that we think diehard Bakugan fans will appreciate as well.

Here is a summary of the plot:

A mysterious robotic race known as the Hurranians has managed to steal a large chunk of Bakugan DNA from the Sacred Orb and have used that DNA to create an overwhelming invasion force of Bakugan clones. They arrived in New Vestroia unchallenged under the guise of a research expedition, only to unleash their forces on the unsuspecting planet. The unprepared New Vestroians and their Bakugan were subdued in the blink of an eye, and the Hurranians continued to systematically collect DNA from the New Vestroia Bakugan in order to further strengthen their army and realize their plans for domination of other worlds.

Dan and Drago are the first to arrive on the scene, called by a young Hurranian scientist named Eva. Eva was unaware of her leaders’ real intentions for arriving in New Vestroia, and now that the cat is out of the bag, has courageously reached out to Dan and Drago to help stop them.

Eva informs Dan and Drago that the only way to stand up to the Hurranian army is to fight fire with fire – she lends him a Hurranian replicator that allows him to create an army of his own.

Dan, never one to shy away from a good brawl, catches on quickly to how the replicator works, and takes it upon himself to gather his friends and attempt to free new Vestroia and end the Hurranian invasion before they become truly unstoppable.

DHGF: The first two Bakugan video games followed the tabletop game closely while the third game was a mixture of the fighting and beat ’em up genres. Rise of the Resistance is going a very different route by moving to the “Tower Defense” genre. What was the decision behind that?

RC: I’d say it’s most accurate to call the game an RPG with Tower Defense battles. We wanted a way to tell an engaging story and also provide a new battle experience that would be fresh and surprising for both longtime fans and newcomers, as well as general fans of both genres.

We decided an RPG was the best format to do this, and after a lot of debate about the battle system, we settled on Tower Defense because 1) Top down RPG combined with TD mechanics is an unusual combination with a lot of potential for fun, 2) the Bakugan universe’s attribute system and use of partner Bakugan lend themselves to TD gameplay surprisingly well. This allowed us to mix a direct control/action element into the TD gameplay, and 3) there’s a lot of strategy and depth in TD mechanics that younger players can learn and older players can appreciate.

DHGF: So Rise of the Resistance also promises to have some RPG elements as well. What are some of those aspects that we’ll be seeing and how are they blended in with the Tower Defense strategy?

RC: Here are some of the elements:

“¢ The primary gameplay of the RPG section is exploration of the world to proceed through the story, finding hidden secrets, solving puzzles and interacting with characters in New Vestroia.

“¢ Your brawlers level up as you win battles. The higher their level, the more powerful their partner Bakugan, and the more you can upgrade replicator Bakugan of their attribute in battle. For example if Dan reaches Level Two, Dan will become stronger, and also you’ll be able to upgrade your Pyrus replicator Bakugan up to Level Two from now on.

“¢ Gate cards collected or purchased in the RPG (human) portion can be used in battle to tilt the odds in your favor. These are hidden throughout the game and cannot be obtained until you’ve found them. The rare ones are very powerful and can be game changing.

“¢ There are collectible DNA fragments in the RPG portion that if found, allow your Brawler team access to new areas. For example, if you find the Aquos DNA fragment, Marucho and Elfin will be able to walk across water. Each brawler/Bakugan partner team has their own such special ability that must be found to be used, which encourages exploration and provides a puzzle solving element to the game.

“¢ BakuCoins are found throughout the human portion, and can be used to purchase Gate Cards and other items.

“¢ The brawler you choose for each brawl has a certain attribute, and the attribute strength/weakness difference can make a big difference in terms of your effectiveness in battle. You need to pay close attention to your opponent’s attribute when choosing your brawler as well as your replicator Bakugan.

DHGF: In the first Bakugan video game, we were introduced to a new Bakugan character named Leonidas. Since that game, the character has developed a solid cult following among Bakugan fans. Unfortunately he didn’t reappear in either Defenders of the Core or Battle Trainer. I guess this is where I ask the token, “Is Leonidas in this game?” question.

RC: Due to a variety of circumstances, Leonidas didn’t make it into this game either. However, we are very aware of the strong following that Leonidas has and we are very pleased that the fans have become so fond of him. We also have a solid place in our own hearts for him.

DHGF: Could we have a list of the Bakugan that will be appearing in Rise of the Resistance?

RC: There are a lot of Bakugan in the game so I won’t list them all, but here are some of the main ones. Note that Bakugan from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons of the show make an appearance.

“¢ Titanium Drago

“¢ Dual Elfin

“¢ Magma Wilda

“¢ Mega Nemus

“¢ Midnight Percival

“¢ Master Ingram

“¢ Rubanoid

“¢ Coredem

“¢ Linehalt

“¢ Plitheon

“¢ Bolcanon

“¢ Mutant Krakenoid

“¢ Vertexx

“¢ Dharak

“¢ Infinity Helios

DHGF: The general audience for Bakugan skews between young children and tweens. For older gamers who might be new to Bakugan, what about Rise of the Resistance will they find appealing and/or enjoyable?

RC: I can tell you that older gamers will really appreciate the depth of strategy you can employ in battles. While the game is obviously targeted at the Bakugan fanbase which does indeed skew younger, there’ s a lot of fun to be had for older fans as well, as some of the battles can be quite challenging and require you to use those creative juices to win.

A lot of different strategies are possible, and we’re really eager to see how creative our players get.

DHGF: How long will it take the average gamer to get through Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance, and are there any unlockables for a post-game experience?

RC: A full playthrough on the story mode could take anywhere between eight to twelve hours of solid gameplay time. Possibly more.

Also, once you’ve finished the story you can replay any battle you want, and all of the Brawlers, Bakugan and Gate Cards you unlocked in story mode will be available.

DHGF: Finally, the original Bakugan game, Bakugan Battle Brawlers, closely followed the rules of the tabletop game and is by far the favorite amongst the staff here at Diehard GameFAN. Is there a plan to make another Bakugan video game in the spirit of the Sega Toys collectable game or will future games continue to go a separate route?

RC: We have to keep some secrets to keep our fans guessing.

Unfortunately, Robert didn’t have answers for two of my questions. The first was why Rise of the Resistance was a DS exclusive instead of a multi-system title. The second was whether or not there would be a collector’s edition like the previous Bakugan DS games have had. Still, we know a lot more about the game now and it sounds like something Bakugan fans will enjoy checking out. Again, Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance is scheduled for release some time in 2011, but there is no confirmed date. Keep checking back here at Diehard GameFAN and we’ll let you know when there is along with an in-depth review of the game when it comes out.

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