Protect the world from its many evils via a game of children's fighting tops!
I admit I have a fondness of Japanese shows based on children's games such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Bakugan because of how charmingly whimsical they can be. Beyblade is part of this prestigious group of children's series, seeing birth as a manga by Takao Aoki in 2000 and spawning an anime series and a line of toys. So you can bet that I was looking forward to playing Beyblade: Metal Fusion for the Wii and experience all the ridiculousness my competently thinking mind could handle. But, unfortunately, both story and gameplay manage to disappoint in a big way.
Much like in other series of its kind, Beyblade: Metal Fusion is about children engaging themselves in battles using fighting tops. The game's story follows a similar story as the manga and anime. In this game, the plot is focused on a mysterious fortress in the shape of a beyblade that is invading Bey City. The nefarious fortress is kidnapping the best beybladers. Series hero Ginkga Hagane, along with his friends, must then do battle with other characters and uncover the mystery behind its existence.
My problem with the story doesn't lie in how stupid it is but how it is told. Rather than featuring in-game cut scenes or footage from the anime series, Beyblade: Metal Fusion opted to tell its story using character cutouts with flapping mouths and plenty of text boxes. Because of this lackluster presentation, it fails to engage you in its narrative.
The gameplay doesn't fare any better. The idea of Beyblade is to destroy the other players by depleting their spinning top’s life bar or knocking the top out of the arena. The point of interest lies in how this gets accomplished. Each Beyblade is composed of various parts that play a role in its performance, such as endurance, movement, speed, and weight. You can unlock new parts by completing the story missions, and even create your own custom beyblade and share with friends.
There are some features that help in creating a slightly deeper challenge. Beyblades come equipped with various powers aided by the different animals and zodiac symbols, such as the lion, the snake, and the swan. When you press the A button while shaking the Wii Remote, you unlock one power, such as a longer spin time. The B button unleashes your secondary attack. Finally, when your power bar is full, you can unleash a devastating attack in which the players involved must shake the Wii Remote in order to be successful in unleashing or evading the attack.
In my experience with the game, there did not appear to be any semblance of strategy required. Even when I faced the tougher opponents, I could still win against them with just my basic beyblade.
You can upgrade your beyblades using the aptly named Beyblade points that you earn during battles. The parts beef up your Beyblade, though with the lack of challenge it might even be needed. Unfortunately, the game seems to shortchange you with the amount of points it gives you, as the parts are overpriced. You are encouraged to buy new parts, and it is disheartening to deal with this uneven system.
The controls prove to be cumbersome in this game. The amount of control given to your Beyblade is very limited, as you can't really guide it during the heat of battle. In order to attack the other Beyblades, you must shake the Wii Remote and bump into them. This is done a lot, and in order to complete a special attack you must vigorously shake the controller to win. By the time a match ends, your hand and wrist will hurt thanks to the repetitive motions.
Beyblade: Metal Fusion has a surprising amount of modes and features. Outside of the main story mode, you can partake in random battles with other players or with the computer in free play. There is even a novel mode where you can see how many Beyblades you can destroy before yours stops spinning. The game supports the rarely used Wii Remote storage functionality so you can send your customized Beyblades to your Wii Remote and take them to your friend’s house. There is also DS connectivity, though I couldn’t test it out.
The graphical presentation is passable for a licensed game. The beyblades are very detailed, and battles, even when they get hectic, present very little slowdown. The graphical prowess lie in the special attacks, thanks to explosions and grand visions of creatures in outer space. As I mentioned before, the presentation of the storyline is pathetic and easily the worst part of the game. The sound is just as forgettable, as the characters lack any voices, and the upbeat techno tracks are constantly used and annoying.
As a bonus, the special release Wii version comes with a DVD featuring one episode of the series. As expected it is cheesy, but it is far more enjoyable that the game's own storyline.
Overall, Beyblade: Metal Fusion is a big disappointment for me. The extremely ridiculous storyline is just uninspired, and the battles get monotonous. Fans of the franchise may gain something out of it, but everyone else should stay away.