I actually don’t know a great deal about Beyblade short of it being an anime about kids battling dramatically with tops. It’s an unusual concept, but no more outside the realm of absurdity as Air Gear (which is itself a show about kids racing dramatically on rocket-powered rollerblades). I’ve even seen a few episodes of the show when I was younger, though I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert at the license or anything of the sort. Sorry fans, I’m the closest thing you’ve got to understanding the source material besides Aaron or Crystal.
That being said, after an onslaught of no-so-good titles based on the license ranging from the Gameboy Advance all the way up to the Nintendo DS, it’s time for Rising Star to take a crack at adapting it to the 3DS. And while they made a good effort, I’m beginning to feel as though it’s just not a concept that translates well to engaging video games.
When you begin Beyblade Evolution, you’re asked to give your name before being opened up to three different modes. As is standard with anime adaptions, one of the options at your disposal is the token Story mode. This is all well and good until you realize that there isn’t much of a story to be had. You are introduced to a number of characters who try to teach you the nuances of the game as fruitlessly as possible and then proceed to do battle with you. The goal is to earn enough money to build the best Bey as you can before the championship tournament that occurs at the end of turn 50. Each battle you engage in takes up a turn, with some local tournaments that appear after so many have passed for an opportunity to win cash.
While you do interact with a small variety of characters (whom I assume are from the show), they tend to repeat the same lines each time you battle them. The manual speaks of building bonds with them, though the most I could get to happen was having one of the characters challenge me to play a minigame (which consisted of memory games and the Beyblade equivalent to firing at clay pigeons). If there is a story to be had, it’s either hidden very well during my playthrough or there never was one.
Upon battling an opponent, you are first given the chance to adjust any parts on your Bey that you choose. This is probably the neatest facet of the game, as each part changes performance in one of three key areas: Attack, Defense, and Stamina. Depending on which stat you choose to focus on, your “strategy”, as it were, will differ. If you choose to focus on attack, you’ll shoot your Bey on an incline so it collides with your opponent and knocks it out of the ring, or at the very least, drains its stamina so it tips over. Likewise, those focusing on defense and stamina will tend to aim towards the middle and outlast their enemies.
Controls are also very simple. Using the 3DS’ gyroscope, you aim your Bey where you want it to go and then pull back as if you were pulling a ripcord. As the Beys engage each other a meter builds up on the bottom screen from level 1 all the way up to 3. If you aim the crosshairs at your Bey and fire with A, you will imbue it with your “spirit” and grant it a temporary boost in power, so long as you don’t miss or accidentally empower your opponent.
Which brings me to my next point: the game as a whole isn’t very interactive. Short of charging your Bey with spirit, much of the game comes down to waiting for something to happen. It also seems to be determined by one part how you build your Bey and two parts luck. The very first match I played I literally did nothing and won. I also had no problem with any of the opponents I had in the story (the ones that grant no reward). Once I got to the tournaments, I got destroyed. I needed money to get better, yet the only fights that granted money I couldn’t win. I was destined to an endless loop of sucking, save for the few minigames that managed to earn me a new part or two. One tournament I had to forfeit on grounds that I didn’t even have enough parts to built three different Beys.
The only other alternative to earning parts is the Bey Battle option from the main menu. From here, you get three more choices: Data Battle, Local Wireless Battle, and Survival. The first two options require that you know someone else with the game (which I didn’t), which leaves the Survival mode. You must win a certain number of consecutive matches in order to earn new parts, none of which I particularly cared for.
“What about that last option you mentioned at the beginning?” You might be saying to yourself. That third “mode” that I was referring to would be Bey Factory, which is just for admiring parts you’ve earned and customizing your Bey. So really, there isn’t a lot of meat on this game’s bones, which is disappointing given how many titles have given a shot at the license.
At least the presentation is nice, if a bit basic. Characters converse using still portraits and text boxes, though the Beys animate well and there is a nice selection of parts to view and customize. The game does offer viewing in 3D, though I would advise against it on account of how much you’ll be jerking the 3DS around. There wasn’t any voice acting to speak of, though the music was inoffensive.
If you purchased the Collector’s Edition, you’ll get access to an exclusive Wing Pegasus Bey that you can construct and use outside of the game if you enjoy using the actual tops more. For some, it may even be the main reason for picking up the game (though again, not being familiar with the real life products, I’m not sure if exclusive necessarily means that it’s good). It also includes an AR card which can be used to fashion a battle stadium when playing against your friends, though it’s not exclusive to the Collector’s Edition.
At the end of the day, Beyblade Evolution is another licensed game that’s only going to appeal to fans of the property being represented. There’s simply not enough to do within the game and the limited interactivity makes it hard to recommend beyond the hardcore fans. Using the 3DS technology the way they did was a step in the right direction, but there’s simply not enough here to entice anyone not familiar with the source material to check out what the series is.
Short Attention Span Summary
Beyblade Evolution attempts to make use of the Nintendo 3DS hardware to fashion a game around a bunch of kids battling with sophisticated tops, though it fails to be engaging. Using the 3DS system as a ripcord was a neat idea, but the 3D effect becomes skewed during movement and there’s not much else to do once the battle starts besides wait. Likewise, the Story mode fails to offer much of a story, instead recycling the same quotes for each character you meet and sending you off to fight numerous battles with no deviation in the outcome whether you win or not. There’s a local wireless mode if you know some fellow fans close by to play with you as well as StreetPass functionality, though there’s just not enough here to recommend to anyone but the hardcore fans.