By Former Contributor Nathan Stiles / June 7th, 2014
|Publisher||Rising Star Games|
|Release Date||October 29, 2013|
|Genre||Collectible Trading Top Game|
|Age Rating||ESRB – E for Everyone|
Hello, everyone. Though it pains me a great deal, I feel that now is the time for me to let out a dark and terrible secret about myself. This secret is so terrible that it could not only cause me to die of embarrassment, but may very well destroy all nerd cred that I have accumulated over the years. I, Nathan Stiles, was introduced to anime… through the show Beyblade. I know, I know, it’s a terrible thing to confess, but, as a child, I really loved the show. It was a huge part of my life for a good couple years. I collected the toys, spent hours making my own custom Beyblade combinations, sometimes going as far as using a stop watch to time them and see how long they would last. The scariest part of all, however, is that I would get up every day during the summer at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. just to catch every episode, and that’s saying something, considering that, even as a child, I was practically nocturnal. Of course, I grew out of it like most people do their childhood vices, but when I was given the opportunity to review the newest entry in the Beyblade video game series, my eyes went wide with child-like wonder, and I could not resist taking a trip down Memory Lane… If only I’d known beforehand that Memory Lane could lead into desolate lands I’d only imagined in my worst nightmares.
Beyblade Evolution doesn’t follow the same story or timeline as the show that I’d fallen in love with as a child, but, then again, Beyblade Evolution doesn’t follow any storyline at all. It does contain characters from the ‘Metal Saga‘ of the show, but, for someone like me who hasn’t followed the series since the original Beyblade ended, it really meant nothing. The characters aren’t developed and have literally no personality. They are there as tokens to represent your next battle or your next mini-game and nothing more. I honestly couldn’t even tell you who the main character of the cartoon was based on the content of the game. The entire story is that you are a ‘Blader,’ and tournaments are going on. I really have nothing more to say about that, so let’s move on to the presentation.
The graphics, admittedly, aren’t terrible. I found the detail put into each of the Beyblade parts themselves to be, at the least, serviceable, especially since they were the only thing in the game rendered in 3D with a few very minor exceptions. The rest of the game is presented in character stills and dialogue boxes that fail to impress. The sound design, however, is annoying. There are very few sound effects, no voice acting and the handful of songs that exist became unbearable within the first 20 minutes of game time.
While nothing I’ve mentioned so far has been complimentary, the game didn’t really begin to fail until I got to the gameplay. The battles themselves take close to no involvement from the player, your only influence comes from aiming the launch of your Beyblade to one of three locations, each of which gives a benefit to a defense, attack or balanced-type tops. Once your Beyblade is launched, however, the game plays out on its own, forcing you to watch as the tops spin for anywhere from five seconds to a minute until someone is knocked out of the arena or stops spinning altogether. There is another small mechanic in the battles that allows you to aim and shoot energy at your Beyblade in an attempt to give it a boost of strength, but, in my experience, this very rarely has a significant impact on the battle at hand. I understand that the intention with this system was to replicate the real world Beyblade experience, but, since the show always focused on the spirits within the tops (yeah I’m not making this better am I?), it seems odd to me that they take all control away from the player with the exception of the launches and the energy shots.
Speaking of controls, they just don’t work. There’s no other way to put it, they are a broken mess. This is due entirely to the forced implementation of the gyroscope which, in my experience, failed to work more than it was successful. Even with something as simple as the above mentioned Beyblade launches, you are forced to perform them by aiming with the gyroscope. Luckily, in battle they were smart enough to realize the gyroscope wasn’t working well, so they locked your aiming to a horizontal line so you can’t miss the arena completely. Once you’ve aimed, a timer counts down, and you have to quickly pull back on the 3DS console to mimic the movement of pulling a rip cord. It doesn’t work. I can’t count the number of times the game registered my zero movement as a premature launch (I even set the 3DS down on a flat surface to make sure I wasn’t messing up somehow). It would have made much more sense, and been far more practical, to aim with the top screen and analog, and then pull the ripcord with a virtual one on the touch screen, then you could actually gauge speed, as well as timing. The battles aren’t the end of the gyroscope control issues, however. There are three mini-games that require even more extensive use of these mechanics, one which forces you to aim and shoot balloons out of the air, and another which makes you shoot your Beyblade through moving rings. Both of these work for the first 30 seconds or so before the game decides to recalibrate its location on its own, so you have to keep contorting your body to aim at the balloons. The third mini-game has obstacle courses, and plays very similarly to Super Monkey Ball, which had me excited until, once again, the gyroscope controls failed and caused a great deal of frustration and a distinct lack of fun.
The non-gyroscope controls are functional, but not exactly fun. They work well for the three other mini-games (A memory-style match game and two different types of quizzes that test your knowledge of Beyblade parts), as well as for customizing your Beyblades and for navigating the map, but there’s really not much else to the gameplay. The level of customization allowed for your Beyblades is actually quite impressive, though the game is rather unbalanced (no pun intended) favoring defensive and stamina-based tops over attack ones every single time.
The game is even flawed in its structure. It is comprised of 50 turns where you must click on a location on the touch screen to be automatically warped there. This is followed by an NPC either offering you to battle (with absolutely no reward) or play a mini-game for a potential cash prize. This is already a huge flaw in the game design. The entire point of Beyblade Evolution is to have these battles, but it’s completely undermined by the fact that there is no reward to it, so, if you are smart, you will spend every turn playing one of the mini games as opposed to the battles. That is, unless you fall on a day that has a tournament, which offers a much larger cash prize, but you will most likely lose. Every time you take an action, a day goes by, and you only have 50 days until the final championship begins. Win or Lose, the game ends at this point. Not only does it end, it saves over your file, making it so you have to start the game over from scratch. If you are lucky, you will be able to carry over a small chunk of whatever money you still had saved up, but all of the Beyblade parts you acquired will be lost forever. Oh, and just a warning for first time players, this game does NOT auto-save, so make sure you save in the options menu on your own, or you will get halfway through the game and have to start over like I did.
I’ll admit that, when I picked this game up, I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I was being optimistic in at least thinking it would be competent. You can complete the game in a couple short hours, and, even then, it somehow ends up feeling monotonous and boring, even if you are lucky enough for the controls to work properly. I can’t recommend this game to any one, fan of the series or otherwise. Please avoid this title by any means, it’s not worth your 20 dollars.
Note on Trailer: Look how much of it is ‘not representative of actual gameplay’
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Though if you still want to take the plunge, Beyblade Evolution is available on Amazon: