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Nintendo DS Review: Bakugan: Battle Trainer

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Bakugan began as a Japanese anime TV series and expanded into a popular card game involving small spheres that pop open when, after rolling, they land a metallic card.  In the card game, when two Bakugan land on the same card (the Gate Card) and burst open, a battle ensues. Each Bakugan's strength is measured in G-power which is affected by numerous factors, but whichever character has the highest G-power wins the battle.

The Bakugan: Battle Trainer game for the Nintendo DS follows the same basic principles. As the story for the game goes, one day a ship called the Dark Star, which is filled with evil battle brawlers, shows up in Earth's atmosphere andBakugan: Battle Trainer sucks up all the Bakugan from the planet's surface. As the game opens, super scientist Professor Trecov has created a top secret facility in which to train you to recover these lost Bakugan. As each battle brawler is recaptured by you, it is taken to the training facility to gain G-power and mental abilities.  The Bakugan can then travel with you to the Dark Star to recapture more Bakugan.

The training facility includes tokens, mini-games, quizzes, and an assortment of other actions that can be carried out such as bouncing and petting your Bakugan.  The more of the training you have your Bakugan undergo, the greater the G-power they obtain. As higher level play ensues, you will be doing battle with two or three of your own Bakugan against the evil battle brawlers on the Dark Star. As long as one of your battle brawlers remains alive at the end of the battle, you win that round.

As for the actual training available at the facility, it opens with play on a platform in which tokens are to be grabbed up by rolling the Bakugan over them. This seems like an easy task, however the battle brawler is not particularly responsive to the stylus and ends up rolling in circles aimlessly until it hits just the right spot. In the Caring Zone there are some quizzes, so if you don't know anything about the Bakugan card game or TV show you will not get any G-power there. As for bouncing the Bakugan, that is relatively easy and how many points you earn depends on how fast you can move the stylus. It is an Bakugan: Battle Trainereasy action to master, unlike stroking the Bakugan which I never did figure out how to do properly. No amount of zipping the stylus over the screen in any area, speed, or direction would allow me to gain points with my rolls. One other training method available features you (if you have a DSi) blowing on your battle brawler.  Again, this one is easy as long as you have good lung capacity.

The sounds and graphics are relatively good with the title, however I was very disappointed that the actual battle did not require any action from the person playing. All of the work is done ahead of time in battle preparation (gaining G-power).  For the battle itself, all there is to do is pick which of your Bakugan you want to fight each evil battle brawler and then wait and watch the battle on screen. It certainly would have been better to follow more closely with Bakugan Battle Brawlers which utilizes mini-games during battle. 

In the final summation, though the game has some positives, I found the lack of control too disappointing. The Bakugan are difficult to maneuver and the fight scene is terribly unsatisfying since the player has no control over it.

Bakugan Battle Trainer is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence.

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