Monday, March 8, 2004

Beyblade (PSX)




Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: Simple, unique, easy to learn
Cons: More suited to younger gamers, bad save game management

Introduction

I bought this game for just under ten bucks at my local Wal-Mart. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this game.. in fact, I didn't even know it existed. I usually pick up computer game titles for that price instead, but I figured I hadn't bought a Playstation game in a while, so I was due. If nothing else, my little brothers would probably enjoy it.

What the heck is Beyblade anyway? Well, it's a cartoon, an anime, an animated television show for children. In the ever popular style of Pokemon, you play the role of a child who wishes to become a champion, but instead of using little critters to do the fighting for you, you get to use a spinning top.

Granted, there are lots of different combinations of parts, so your top can be pretty unique, but it's still just a top. Each top has a "bit beast", which comes out of the top to perform a special attack. This is pretty cool in the anime, but practically worthless in the game. At least Beyblade is unique. I can honestly say that I've never played a spinning top fighting game before in my entire life.

Getting Started

The first thing you must do is create a character. Select the gender and name, and then choose which beyblade you will start the game with. You can either choose "Dragoon S", which has a kid dragoon bit beast, or "Dranzer S", which has a knight dranzer bit beast. It don't really seem to matter which you pick, they are about equal.

In the main menu you can choose from the two battle modes. You can also customize your beyblade parts, select sound options, and save or load data from a memory card. Once you have entered the main menu, you can not return to the title screen, so if you change your mind about which top you wanted to start with, or wanted to change your character name, you would have to reset the game.

As for memory cards, for some reason only the first memory card slot is used in Beyblade. If you want to play a two player game, you must first load a character off of the first memory card, then select whether to set him in the first player or the second player slot. After that, you can switch memory cards, and load the next player from the first slot. The same holds true for saving, you must select which player to save to the first memory card slot, then switch cards and save the other player.

Bey Battle

The concept is to take your spinning top and launch it into a bowl shaped arena. You do this by pulling a rip cord, and letting it fly. This is represented in Beyblade by a spin power gauge. Pressing X will stop the gauge and launch your beyblade into the arena. Different launchers will allow you to launch with more or less spin power.

Spin power is important in a bey battle. If your beyblade stop spinning, you lose a point. If you lose four points total, you lose the battle. Another way to lose points is to fly out of the arena. There are three holes in the arena, one at the bottom, one at the top right, and one at the top left. You lose two points for going out of the arena.

The last way to lose, would be for your beyblade to run out of hit points. If this happens, it will explode, and you will automatically lose the battle unless you have another beyblade to use. Don't worry if it explodes though, you still get to keep all of it's parts, but you must put it back together before you can use it again.

When the two tops are spinning around in the arena, you have a limited amount of control to shift your beyblade's path. If you have an analog controller, the analog mode is on constantly and can not be turned off. If you have a digital controller, you can still use the directional pad to shift your path in eight directions.

The point is to collide with the opponent's top, and either knock it out of the ring, or stop it from spinning. The more spin power your top has, the longer it will be able to last in the arena. Depending on what parts your beyblade is built with, and what level it is on, you may be able to out last an opponent with double the spin power though.

Hitting X when you collide will allow you to attack the opponent, decreasing his spinning power. The two tops will also fly away from each other when they hit, the same way that two normal tops would spin away. For each successful hit, you also gain five legend points. After you collect 25 legend points, you can let loose a special attack.

Special attacks vary depending on which beyblade you have, and are generally worthless in my opinion. Unless you are battling an opponent who's beyblade has very few hit points, don't bother, because that is all the special attack does. They are neat to watch though.

Well, that's not entirely true, there is one rather cheap use of the special attack.. if your opponent hits you, and you are flying towards the hole in the arena, you can use your special attack then. This will often times throw you back into the center of the arena to use your attack, and accidentally keep you from flying out the hole. Cheating? Maybe, but I won't tell if you don't.

Tournament

Only the first player can play in the tournament mode. Once you enter the tournament mode, you can not exit until you either win the tournament, or lose. You continue to use the beyblade you first select, unless it blows up, in which case you can switch if you have another beyblade to use.

Between battles you can do maintenance on your beyblade. This restores up to 15 hit points to your beyblade, but you suffer a loss of balance. Because of this, you will ultimately lose between 5 and 25 points of attack power, defense power, and/or endurance for the remainder of the tournament. When the tournament is over, all stats are restored.

You bet both "Bey Points" and experience points in Beyblade. Bey points are used to purchase parts to customize your beyblade. Experience points allow the bit beast of your beyblade to increase in levels, as well as yourself. You earn 10 bey points and 5 experience points for each win, and also 5 bey points and 3 experience points for each loss.

The tournament consists of seven rounds, with the sixth and seventh being the semifinals and the finals. From the fourth round on, you will battle against characters from the anime. If you win during the finals, you are the champion. You also get a new beyblade part for winning, or 20 bey points for losing. The part you receive is chosen at random from the 30 different parts.

Free Battle

In the free battle, both players can play, but only if the player data is saved on a memory card. If no data is loaded for the second player, then the first player can just battle freely among the eight characters from the anime, which include Tyson, Kai, Max, Ray, Lee, Michael, Tala, Robert, and Anthony.

As well as playing against the anime characters, you can also play as the anime characters. Tyson is the main character in the anime, and he uses a Dragoon bit beast with his beyblade. A fan of the cartoon will probably appreciate the ability to play as the characters, but I would rather use my own. Maybe it's the RPG lover inside of me.

Both players' data must be loaded from the first memory slot, but it still works fine. When you load data, it is registered to the first player. Then, insert another memory card and load the data, and it is registered to the second player. This is good, as the first player can not select the second player's character and vice versa.

You earn 10 bey points and 5 experience points for each time you win, as well as 5 bey points and 3 experience points for each loss. This makes the free battle a great way for two players to raise levels and build up bey points to customize their beyblade.

Customization

In the customize menu, you can purchase new pieces for your beyblades, name your beyblades, and change parts around. Each player has three "folders", and can register one beyblade to each folder. Each beyblade has a number of different parts, including the bit chip, attack ring, weight disk, spin gear, blade base, and launcher.

You won't know how a given part will effect your beyblade until after you purchase it and equip it. Generally, the more expensive parts tend to increase your stats better, but that is not necessarily the case all of the time. Some parts can not be equipped to all beyblades, such as the spin gear. This is due to the fact that some blade bases have a built in spin gear. Also, you can not use a left spin gear with a right launcher.

You start buy purchasing parts at the shop for various amounts of bey points, and then changing parts around and seeing how it effects your statistics. You can check the status (attack power, endurance, maximum spin power, etc) of your beyblade here in the customize menu, as well as your own level and win/loss record.

Graphics & Sound

I do wonder how they managed to model the physics of two spinning tops, ramming into each other over and over again. Regardless of how they accomplished it, it seems to work fairly well. Sometimes they can be frustratingly hard to control, but that is not the issue. They are not supposed to be controlled, only their paths altered, and Beyblade does a great job of modeling this.

The spinning tops look realistic, and everything is really colorful. Besides the beyblades themselves, everything else is stationary and motionless. A very simple game really, but still a little fun. The interfaces are all very user friendly, and easy to navigate.. the only exception maybe being the lame memory card management, which is a bit of a pain sometimes.

The background music was upbeat and catchy, and while it didn't hold my interest for very long, it wasn't bad at all. There wasn't much variety to it though.

The tournament announcer, D.J. Jazzman, is the source of voice overs, which are terribly annoying. He always says "What a great launch!" or "What a weak launch!" when you first launch your beyblade, and it is very annoying after a few battles. He also says other lame things like "Let it rip!" or "Unbelievable!" at random times during the course of a battle. To top it off, the battles are generally short, so you are forced to listen to him way, way to often.

Conclusion

Crave Entertainment's Beyblade is a pretty unique game, and while it's not the best game in the world, it should be fun for all ages. Younger gamers will probably enjoy Beyblade a little more than older gamers though. Whether that is because the simple game suits their playing style better, or because they like the anime and can relate to the characters, it really makes no difference.

Fans of the anime will probably like this game, as well as parents looking for an easy to learn game to play with their children. As an added bonus, this game is rated "E" for everyone. If you like Beyblade, you might also enjoy one of the various Pokemon or Digimon games.

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