In one of the most absolutely inexplicable moves of 2020, WayForward is releasing a Bakugan game, at least six years after the last time anyone actually thought about Bakugan. Everytime I write the word “Bakugan” my brain tells me that this is a goof and I am writing a joke piece. I am not. Here, let’s say it together now. Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia is a real video game and it is coming out in 2020. Nope. Still doesn’t feel right.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the logical conclusion of the collectible toy battling genre, Bakugan were (or are, I guess) a line of collectible toys that had an associated card game made unique by the fact that they were made of sharp metal and hurt to have them thrown at you. You would then roll plastic marbles onto those cards, at which point said marbles would spring open, revealing (you fool) that it was not, in fact, a marble but a tiny dragon. Basically, what if Pokemon were easier for a child to choke on and Yu-Gi-Oh cards were effective throwing weapons. While never being quite as popular as its peers, Bakugan was at the very least… interesting?
The same can be said for Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, which was shown off at today’s Nintendo Treehouse event. It has a hybrid real-time and turn-based RPG battle system. In it you, a child, summon giant Bakugan to beat the hell out of your opponent’s Bakugan. Like the collectible card game it’s based on, your Bakugan fall into one of six factions, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. It was described on today’s stream as “Not quite a Rock-Paper-Scissors” system, it seems as if the factions have a slightly more complicated relationship than just water beats fire. The thing that makes this particular manifestation of the creature battling genre unique is the game’s real time element wherein your player character runs around the battlefield picking up BakuCores to charge up your Bakugan’s attacks. Picking up more Cores than your opponent means having a clear advantage with how many attacks you can dole out in a brawl.
The game seems perfectly fine for a licensed toy tie-in game. I am sure that the folks who love this franchise are really excited about it. I dabbled in Bakugan as a child but didn’t really have anyone to play it with. In all honesty, I just liked popping them open and closing them again because it gave me the Good Brain Chemicals. During the game’s announcement Nintendo fans acted like Nintendo fans about it, which is to say they let the weight of their incalculably high expectations crash violently against a game that I’m sure folks have put a lot of work and heart into.
If you’re a Baku-head (?) or, if you’re just interested in a collectible creature battler with a real time element, you can pick up Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia on November 3, 2020, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
Writer’s Note: I had to write the word “Bakugan” too many times and now it make my eyes feel weird to look at it.