Review: Beyblade: Evolution

Beyblade: Evolution is a game that has an undeniable target audience. That target audience is very unlikely to be reading reviews about whether or not they should buy this game. Chances are they are probably deep enough into the long running series/franchise to just make the decision to ask their parents to buy it for them, or spend their allowance on it. So the most likely reason you are reading this review is because you are a parent that is curious on whether this game is worth caving into your child for, or if you’re just looking for something new for them to try.

For the established fans of this series, this game can be categorized as a fun way to satisfy their Beyblade jones without having to harangue somebody into to blading against them which means pulling out a “stadium” and needing two launchers and sets of Beyblades. So for convenience factor alone, a serious Beyblader, or their parent, should definitely look into picking this game up. Also do not underestimate the seriousness of Beyblading as it has quite a competitive scene.  Given that, it’s obvious that Beyblade: Evolution strove to maintain the focus on the battle aspect of Beyblades to basically the detriment of everything else.

So let’s get the negatives about this game out of the way. Rating the visuals would be largely pointless as they either consists of Beyblade battles, which focus on a 3D model of a Beyblade stadium and the Beyblades duking it out within, or static images of characters from the latest Beyblade TV show with text at the bottom.  The Beyblade battles look good enough to get the job done, and the art for the characters looks like stock poses so they look fine. There are only two substantial modes in this game: Bey Story mode and Bey Battle mode. The story mode is thread bare and barely qualifies as being called a story mode. There is no overarching story, and really the only reason the mode exists is to give a place for the characters from the show to appear, and a way to buy new and better pieces for your Beyblade. So if you’re a gamer looking for a meaty narrative driven story reminiscent of the TV show, this is not the game for you.

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Another problem with this game is accessibility. The learning curve for Beyblading is steep, and Evolution does nothing to ease you into it. It does give the player a very basic explanation of how and where to start your spin for what type of Beyblade you are using, but outside of that you’re left to your own devices. Also, while the sheer level of customization is great for experienced bladers can be extremely daunting for a amateur who has no idea what they are doing.

The story mode is awkward, with 30 “turns” per playthrough, each taken up by either a Bey battle, a minigame, shopping, or a tournament. There is no walking around or anything of that nature, only locations with titles that you can click to meet different Beybladers. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the story mode is the fact that shopping eats up a turn of your playthrough. The offerings of the shop will very dependent on how deep you are into the “story,” but even entering the shop to see what they have to offer takes up a turn, and sometimes you may find yourself short on Battle Points for an item that you want, only to return with enough points to find that that particular item is gone. Another odd aspect is that you can only gain BP through the minigames, of which there is a good variety of ones to play or tournaments which can be difficult to win even on the second or third playthrough.

That brings us to the third and final problem: the game allows you to build up a winning combination of blades, but then strips them away from you on the 30th turn. Sure you get to use the parts outside of story mode to battle your friends or the AI in one off battles, but keeping the Beyblades that you worked hard on and tried to get the combination of parts “just right” on are gone, with the only consolation prize being that you get to keep a percentage (25%  for the first playthrough,  and then it increases from there) of your BP that you finished with. It’s frustrating and puzzling because there seems to be no real reason to strip away the Beyblades you had built up over the course of the “story.” The main goal of story mode is to win all of the tournaments and buy all of the Beyblade parts that you can from the shop, which may take awhile depending on your skill in Beyblading.

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But chances are any Beyblader that picks up this game, won’t care about the story mode. They just want to virtually battle their highly customized Beyblades. That’s where Beyblade Battle mode comes in and where this game excels as it obviously received the most attention. All of the real life mechanics of battling with Beyblades is faithfully recreated on the 3DS. All the small intricacies such as where you start your Beyblade are there. The tilt function is used to place your Beyblade and the ripcord action is mimicked by jerking back on the system at the right time. There is also a “spirt” mechanic which is a little turbo boost you can give your Beyblade by aiming at it using the tilt function of the 3DS and shooting at it with the A button, be wary though because it can power up your opponent if you accidentally hit them instead. There are six different kinds of stadiums, normal, attack, defense, trap, battle and speed. Each stadium has different characteristics and thus requires a different strategy.

There is a wide array of bey parts to choose from in this game to virtually recreate any Beyblade that could exist in real life but much of it must be earned before it can be used. Most of it is earned through the story mode, but outside of that there is a “survival” mode where you can earn “rare” parts by managing to win up to 30 battles in a row, with every three wins giving you a different part. Once you win 30 you can then move up to the next level of difficulty. If you want to battle your friends there is the local wireless mode which allows you and your friend to virtually battle any Beyblade settings you created  outside of story mode. An interesting feature included in the game is the ability to use an AR card when battling either the AI in Data Battle or with a friend in Local wireless battle. It works pretty well, but the problem is the game requires you to move your 3DS quite a bit which can cause the camera to lose the AR card and thus the whole stadium and battle occurring on it disappears as you wait for the 3DS to rescan the AR card.  It does actually go a long way to recreating the feel of an actual Beyblade battle, but the constant image dropping can be a problem and break immersion.  While there are no internet wifi battles, but there is a streetpass feature which allows players to setup custom Beyblades which will be transferred to a fellow Beybladers system which will allow them to virtually battle you in their Data Battle mode.

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Closing Comments:

It’s obvious where the main focus of Evolution was intended to be. The customization options and battles are about as close to the real thing as you can get, but the threadbare story mode must be trudged through to enjoy them. Thankfully, those who can overlook that mode are treated to a solid and addictive Beyblade battling experience. If you already have a Beyblader in the house, there’s a good chance they’ll like Evolution, but the learning curve is too steep for newcomers to get much enjoyment out of it.
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 Platform: 3DS