A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bakugan Battle Brawlers is tied to a television show of the same name as well as a card game popular with young boys. The game’s young protagonists are, in fact, kids who collect these cards and use them in tournaments. Some of the best are called “battle brawlers” and have attained celebrity status online. It’s a clear case of massive cross promotion, with the likely result that a child who has experienced one Bakugan property will want in on the rest. As for game content, there is plenty of fantasy violence of the Pokemon variety, which is to say players see Bakugan monsters snarling, swinging claws, and using magic, but we don’t really see actual contact. There’s simply a bright flash of light, with the losing monster staggering and perhaps falling down. Note, though, that the monsters are a bit fiercer than those in Pokemon games.
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What's it about?
Based on the popular television show and card game, both of which are geared for young boys, BAKUGAN BATTLE BRAWLERS features children using Bakugan cards in battle. The story involves Bakugan -- ball-shaped beasts that transform into monster-like creatures when they touch cards -- that have come to Earth and are in the midst of a massive conflict of good and evil. One of the good Bakugan, named Leonidas, befriends a boy just learning how to play the card game and joins forces with him. The game itself is similar to other fantasy-based card games in that players play cards by tossing them into an arena, then throw in their Bakugan, trying to land them on the cards. Should two opposing Bakugan land on the same card a battle starts, with players doing things like seeing who can shake their remotes more quickly or tap buttons in time with on-screen cursors more accurately. (We tried the DS version as well and it felt much the same as the Wii edition, only with different battle activities, such as rubbing the screen with the stylus as quickly as possible.)
Is it any good?
There’s little doubt kids who love the Bakugan television show and card game will want to play the video game as well, and they’ll probably enjoy it. The question is whether it’s because it’s a fun, well designed game, or simply because they recognize and covet anything that’s part of the Bakugan license. Chances are it’s the latter.
While Bakugan Battle Brawlers is relatively easy to learn for a strategy game and has a nice quick pace, it has very little meat on its bones. There are only three battle types -- shaking, timing, and shooting (which has players pointing at floating icons and pressing the A button) -- and they’re all pretty shallow. The strategy involved in selecting ability cards, how you toss your Bakugan, and picking up power-up items on the battlefield adds a bit of depth, but not enough. Consequently, it feels more like an interactive ad for the Bakugan brand than a full-fledged game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of cross-marketing. Do you understand that one of the primary reasons games like this exist is to promote the products upon which they are based? Do you think that Bakugan Battle Brawlers can offer an engaging experience for kids who haven’t seen the show or played the card game with which it is associated?
Families can also discuss strategy card games. What about them makes them so appealing? The act of collecting cards? The pursuit of the perfect deck? The actual play? The socializing that goes along with playing? The fantasy and imagination involved? Does a video game capture these elements?
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