Are the spinning tops causing my headache, or is it the awful gameplay?
From what I can tell, Beyblade appears to be an anime designed primarily to sell cheap plastic tops. Kids are supposed to eject these tops from a launcher, and, using the power of centrifugal force, the tops will randomly run into each other until one of them falls down. This seems like the World's Most Boring Game, and indeed that translates pretty well to this new DS game, which is called Beyblade: Metal Fusion. Despite the somewhat impressive multiplayer options and Wii connectivity, Beyblade never manages to actually be fun, which takes precedence over any features they cram onto the game card.
The game is played with tops, which the game calls "Beys." The tops are divided into four classes, three of which have rock-paper-scissors properties (the last class is neutral). You can customize your Beyblade launcher with any number of supposedly stat-increasing modifiers, but I really didn't see any affect whatsoever on my top's performance. The best modifiers add special attacks, including one where your top flies down from the sky and impacts the arena with such force that the Earth splits open and bathes your opponent's top in red-hot magma. Somehow, this does not always win the match.
Each fight begins with the player pulling a ripcord using the stylus. You are awarded for your timing, speed, and distance of the pull, and you might get a tiny boost to your stats for doing well. After that, you watch two tiny little tops fly around what's very clearly a bowl as they literally bounce off each other. Luckily, there's more to it than that. You can try to tap your top to make it form a temporary shield (this does absolutely nothing), slide the stylus toward the opponent's top to make it attack, which also lowers your top's momentum, or tap some other area of the bowl to make your top — and I'm not making this up — leap to that spot. You lose if your top gets hit out of the bowl, loses momentum, or explodes from an opponent's relentless lava-spewing attacks. This also applies to your opponent, of course.
The game might actually hold some strategy were it just a bit slower-paced. If your tops spun and moved at a slower speed than hyperactive, I can see the strategic preparation of certain attacks, perhaps by leaping to one end of the bowl and launching a counterattack in an attempt to knock the opposing top out of the bowl. At such high speeds, however, it's difficult to get your top to do what you want in the first place, much less consider strategy.
The story mode is literally nothing more than a series of Beyblade battles occasionally interrupted by character portraits talking to each other. In between matches, you can change the modifiers to your Beyblade and switch classes. Unfortunately, you have no idea what class your next opponent is using, so the best strategy seems to be guesswork. Completing story mode unlocks new character portraits that use different tops. Once you get sick of losing a lot, you can head over to the garage and buy new parts for your top which, again, supposedly enhance its performance.
There is also the multiplayer arena that offers single-card download play or multicard play, which is nice. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anybody to play the online multiplayer with, though you can search for random or friend code-based battles. The game also offers connectivity with the Wii version, which amounts to a bunch of new parts for your spinning top.
The core problem is that somebody made an anime, a toy line, several video games, and even a movie about people who complete for world domination with the use of tiny plastic spinning tops. I always thought it was kind of silly when villains in the Pokémon universe gave up and went home when their Wheezing was defeated by some kid's Pikachu (you do know what weapons are, right?), but at least they're engaging fights, and the Pokémon are cool. I'm just picturing two lifelong rivals standing less than a foot apart, glaring daggers into each other's eyes while below, in a metal bowl six inches wide, two bright plastic tops, using Newtonian physics, accidentally bump into each other until one them runs out of momentum.
But before that happens, one of the tops unleashes a tectonic event that scars the planet, destroys entire cities, and irrevocably changes oceanic currents, but fails to destroy the other small plastic top.
Due to the shoddy, strategically lacking gameplay and the absurd, nonsensical plot and concept, Beyblade on DS should be ignored by everyone except for die-hard fans, if they even exist.