Despite the original anime TV series coming to an end almost a decade ago, it seems that Beyblade is still very much a thing. It’s curious to think that the concept of pitting spinning top toys against one another would prove so exciting for so many in this technologically enhanced day and age, but then the world wouldn’t be as diverse as it is if everyone simply liked the same thing. Admittedly, the idea behind Beyblade does seem strangely enticing; seeing chunks of spinning metal and plastic circling one another before reaching a climactic clash does contain a certain hypnotic appeal. Moreover, it’s an in-depth craft for the true Beyblade enthusiasts, who combine various components — most of which must be bought at extra cost — to create the ultimate spinning machine.
Beyblade Evolution — the latest in a long line of Beyblade video game releases — has clearly been designed to capture this core concept and recreate it in video game form. And when it comes to battling and customising your in-game Beyblades, it does a pretty admirable job of emulating the real deal. The problem, however, is that these impressive mechanics are wrapped up in a dull and extremely repetitive gameplay experience. It’s common for you to have to do many things over and over again in most video games, but Beyblade Evolution seemingly takes it to an entirely new level, not to mention that its rather limited subject matter (they’re just spinning tops after all) doesn’t help.
This issue of repetitiveness has unfortunately been built into the game’s main mode. The premise is fairly straightforward: you’re a new “blader” in town, who’s looking to make new friends, earn new Beyblade parts and compete in a number of regular tournaments. Achieving these three goals requires you to put your Beyblade battling skills to the test (although striking up new friendships is entirely superficial).
The battle segments themselves aren’t so much the problem; in fact, the developers have taken advantage of the 3DS’s features to try and mimic how you’d play with the actual Beyblade toys. Before a battle starts, you use the system’s gyro to aim where exactly in the arena you want your Beyblade to land, and yanking your 3DS towards you will let it rip. This is important as different types of Beyblade perform better in different parts of the arena; defensive-type Beyblades do best in the centre, whereas high-attack types are in their prime if they circle the outer rim.
This aspect isn’t especially complex, nor is it a sure-fire recipe for success. The only way you can truly influence the outcome of a battle is through the use of spirit powers. On the lower screen, you have a spirit meter which gradually increases and levels up over time. Aiming at your Beyblade with the cursor and firing will power it up, giving its attack and speed a bit of a boost. Choosing when to do this is crucial, as it can effectively decide the outcome of a match; time it right and you can even send an opponent’s Beyblade flying out of the ring. Of course, the catch is that your opponent also has access to spirit power, meaning that you often have to make a pretty big gamble when it comes to choosing when you use it.
As a result, battles at first seem quite fun because there is an underlying element of strategy involved (even if it is quite light). However, it all becomes rather dull very quickly, as you constantly have to do the same thing over and over again throughout the story mode. You move between locations by simply selecting a place to go on the touch-screen and it automatically takes you there — there’s no exploring or puzzle-solving along the way; you just move from one battle to another. As a result, the developers have included a number of mini-games in an attempt to break up the monotony. However, these are relatively dull exercises, ranging from pop quizzes on Beyblade components to uninspired obstacle courses that require little to no skill. Younger fans may be willing to persevere, but there’s simply no denying that BeyBlade Evolution gets boring very quickly.
Outside of the main story mode, there’s a local multiplayer mode, which again only proves entertaining for so long; it just doesn’t hold the same appeal as the actual toys. Interestingly, the developers have included a database feature called “Beypedia”, which contains information on a number of Beyblade parts. Unfortunately, it’s rather rudimentary when it comes to detail, and it doesn’t really add much to the overall experience.
Beyblade Evolution attempts to offer an authentic video-game rendition of the popular toy franchise, but fails to match the excitement of the real-life experience. While it makes the most of the unique functionality that the 3DS has to offer, it’s woefully repetitive and quickly becomes a monotonous affair. Beyblade fans may find enjoyment in its accurate depiction of the franchise’s universe, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that this is a flawed title that is clearly lacking in entertainment value.