Let it rip!
Beyblade, one of the many kids show phenomena that is synonymous with merchandise sales, rather than a show worth watching. The kids the show was aimed at however heralded it as high art and love it to bits. The age gap often leaves us older folk scratching our heads at the likes of Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Beyblade. Allowing yourself to watch these shows with an open mind and diving deep enough though might just allow you to appreciate what is at the core.
Some episodes have deeper plot lines, of loss of friendship, the pain of defeat and learning to be okay with that. All sorts of things that go far beyond “They play card games or have adorable fighting monsters.” An acquired taste basically. This sort of acceptance mentality should be taken with games as well! Beyblade: G-Revolution manages to be a poster child for this mentality, starting off by being a bit confusing for the older generation because it’s a kids show.
But if you dive in and give it a chance, just the like the show, this GBA game has quite a bit of personality that has left users happy, and the critics, not so much.
Beyblade: G-Revolution was created thanks to a deal Atari struck to bring many Japanese shows into the hands of gamers by using their connections to make titles the fans of the shows could enjoy. Yu-Yu Hakusho, Dragon Ball, these are a few of the franchises that Atari lent their help towards. The only one they kept long term was the Dragon Ball licence, as those were the most financially successful for them and the rest were not.
What sort of game is Beyblade: G-Revolution? Or rather, what you might be asking is what is Beyblade? Beyblade is a show around spinning tops, these little toys battle it out in round arenas and whichever top is left at the end is the winner. A formula for disaster in the eyes of parents, due to fear of injury from the spinning nature of these devices. The actual numbers for any dangerous problems with Beyblades were pretty much non-existent and all were due to negligent parenting, so there was nothing to worry about when it came to Beyblades. Harmless toys that kids could enjoy, like most toys.
So what sort of plot could a game like Beyblade: G-Revolution have if you play around with spinning tops? In Beyblade world, Beyblades are life. Kids play it, adults play it, there are tournaments, pro players, all that good stuff. So you get put in the role of series protagonist Tyson Granger, a kid living in a dojo with his grandfather who often acts far younger than he is, in an attempt to be ‘hip’. Tyson and his grandpa are great, just fun characters.
Your role is to get climb the Beyblade world ladder, fight scrubs in the local park who are bullying your friends, to banning all your friends together and aiming for the top spot. It’s pretty much your standard, rags to riches ‘Mighty Ducks’ type of plot. With a plot like this, the game, of course, is an RPG, as it needs to tell a massive overarching story for you to enjoy. It’s laid out like a Pokemon game, with simple sprites in a top down fashion.
Use the d-pad to move Tyson around, A button to talk to people and investigate objects, start button your usual menu options like saving the game. Which you can do at any given point in the game, so that helps you set it down and come back to it easier, rather than treading over already explored ground. The R button will bring up your Beyblade collection since there are a bunch of them out there. Some favour speed, power, all rounds, they are all different and the goal is to try and get each one.
But the cool part about collecting those Beyblades is that they aren’t just bog standard Beyblades and you can’t do anything with them. No no, the actual toy line tauts customization where you can exchange your favourite part of one Beyblade to another, in an attempt to make your personal favourite. The game does this too, but in a much more OCD collective type of way, as some parts will help your speed, boot specific defences, and so forth. It’s a neat system that lets you experiment with different playstyles, and the game throws enough variety that you’ll be changing up your Beyblade of choice quite a few times.
Be aware that the Beyblades do wear over time, so you’ll need to go shops to fix them up a bit. Thankfully like in Pokemon, beating someone in a good ol’ Beyblade battle means they are willing to part with their hard earned money, because… that’s normal? Ah well, Beyblade world, no need to think too hard about it. Could you imagine that though? Go to the park to play some football, and just accepting the fact that playing against anyone means parting with your lunch money? Japan is tough.
The battles are where the game really shiness though. You find your foe, and fight them on what is called a ‘Beystadium’ (A much different word now in 2017.) You and your foe will position your Beyblades at opposing sides of this plastic stadium, and get ready to ‘rip’. Beyblades are locked into spinning devices, and you have ripcords you pull as hard as you can to ensure you get the best spin when you launch your Beyblade into the fight.
The game is no different, you get a little mini system before you let your Beyblade go, where you have to time the RPM intended by a certain point. Tap A at the right point and you’ll get either a good spin or a not so good spin. Think of the same systems they have in golf games to get the perfect swing, it’s been done a dozen of times, and this game is no different, but it still feels quite fun to nail that perfect spin.
Once your Beyblade is in the arena, you get full control of it. Yeah, it’s not auto played. Because a show about gravity would be a bit boring for kids, Beyblades have all sorts of fancy things they can do. Charge attacks, jumps, all sorts of things they actually can’t do in real life. It does make for a good battle mechanic though, hold A to charge up your attacks, B to defend, even do combo attacks! They even have a pretty cool ‘ultimate attack’ that Beyblades can do.
To further strengthen the addicting collection nature, Beyblades have these things called ‘Bit Beasts’ which are monsters that represent your Beyblade. Dragons, Turtles, all sorts of beasts that you can collect. Once you get enough charge in a battle, you can unleash an ultimate attack to further weaken your opponent. It’s nonsensical, but the game is about a world where people spin tops all the time. Nothing wrong with being a bit out of the norm.
The battles look intense and that is where a great deal of the charm to them. Given the game is on the GBA, it’s quite impressive as there are a number of zoom in effects during an attack that connects, bright lights for charging your attack, Bit Beasts often have special aura and colours to make things really pop. It makes it feel like an intense fight when you unleash your Beyblade for the first time, and while it can get a bit grating after the next dozen or so times, it never becomes a chore really. The only issues are that the variety here is really lacking, the world of Beyblade is expansive, the merchandise as well. The show touts all sorts of arenas, and Bit Beasts to behold. The game however never uses a different arena, and while the Bit Beasts are different, the attack animations are same apart from a palette swap.
The visuals are really the main crux that brings Beyblade: G-Revolution down quite a bit. The sprites are fine, they all have a great sense of character and manage to capture the shows wide eyes presence, the colour palette pops and is quite bright. Character portraits company each speaking section, so you get a sense of life from the game, and the overworld parts of the game feel varied and different.
It’s just the non-story characters that really dampen the game, as no matter what weather effects you add to an area you’ve already explored, encountering the same ‘random child’ sprite for battle gets a bit grating. They have any of the personality that the Pokemon Trainers in Pokemon have. It’s a good mirror for the show really, as Beyblade only ever focused on ‘main characters’ and not generic kid #1232 or anything. You had bright and colour main/side characters, and any normal person was shoved to the side.
Fans of the show know that the show has a very ‘garage rock’ sound. High energy guitar riffs that tried to bring the battles to a higher level, and it worked! Other Japanese shows from the early 2000s often did the same thing, Dragon Ball Z movies even featured songs from the likes of Disturbed before. The only problem is that the variety isn’t really high, the soundtrack for Beyblade has quite a number of battle tracks, but the game only has a handful and they repeat quite a bit. While not awful, in rapid succession, the music can get a bit grating. So not a hit or a miss, just a lost opportunity here.
Beyblade: G-Revolution is a good game. Not great, not astounding. It’s a game with honest attention and a lot of charm in some places, and lack of polish in others. Given it’s the child of a deal made from American juggernaut Atari, it’s surprising it has this much character. Doubtful that Atari knew much about the series and just tasked a developer with making the game for a base price, instead of setting out to make the ‘ultimate Beyblade’ game.
But what is brought to the table is good. Fun battles, a quirky RPG with nice customization mechanics and collectables to be found, and for the most part remains true to the show if you are a fan of the series. More than likely Critics looked at it the same way a confused parent would, as a kids game with confusing mechanics. At the core it’s a fun game that you just need to give a chance, heck, if a fan team decided to use the existing engine and improve on it, it could be amazing!
Overall, Beyblade: G-Revolution is one the cases where Metacritic got it wrong!
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Were you a fan of Beyblade growing up? Or did you enjoy the game after stumbling upon it? Let us know in the comments!