Few people like admitting that the cartoons fondly remembered from their youth were created to sell toys but alas, it's true. In keeping with that tradition, the manga Beyblade was created to hawk a series of funky-looking spinning tops. Much like those old cartoons, what began as a sort of product prop has taken on a life of its own.
Beyblade (currently approaching its fourth season, Shogun Steel) has gained cult status, both here and in Japan and has expanded beyond toy beyblades and action figures to include video games as well. This week in downtown San Francisco, the press were given an opportunity to let a few of their own beyblades rip during an event promoting the latest beyblade video game, Beyblade: Evolution for the Nintendo 3DS.
Beyblade: Evolution maintains the anime look and feel of both the show and of previous Beyblade games. This time however, gameplay's kicked up a notch through the use of the Nintendo 3DS's gyroscope and AR capabilities. The gyroscope comes into play upon starting a battle, by aiming a targeting reticule at an on-screen arena, then pulling back sharply to launch the blade. The AR card allows gamers to choose from six in-game arenas and stage battles within them ad-hoc against a friend or against a CPU player.
Made amply clear during the event was that strategy's what wins battles, not to mention the ability to cobble together the deadliest blades. For those not in the know, it goes like this: two blades enter, one blade leaves, and interestingly enough, the blade that leaves loses the battle. In a spinning-top-take on tsumo wrestling, the idea is simply to knock your opponent out of the arena. Once he's out, he loses, although it's possible to stretch things out by playing matches of up to five rounds.
Each beyblade has three attributes: attack, defense and stamina, and overmatching your opponent's blade is critical to beyblade battle success. Winning battles earns you the money to buy more beyblade parts, and these in turn can be sold (at a loss, naturally) as better parts become available. If you're a gambler, you can spring for a grab bag that could grant you a rare part—or not. Either way, much of the fun comes from geeking out, buying, selling and swapping out parts.
For the beyblade novice, Evolution comes with a story mode that allows you to hang around town playing minigames (such as memory games, exhibition matches and a kind of Super Monkey Ball) while you learn the ropes, or when you've gotten your courage up, to challenge other characters. Evolution comes with six different arenas, all of which provide different challenges depending on how deep or shallow they are, or how many openings they have.
While all this was fun, what Beyblade fans are likely to get most worked up about is the game's Special Edition which for $39.99, will come with an exclusive Wing Pegasus 90 WF beyblade. Rising Star Games showed the blade at the event and with its metallic central piece, the thing has some real heft to it. They'll also likely enjoy getting a sneak peek at the next Beyblade series coming up on Cartoon Network.
Beyblade: Evolution is just around the corner, is set for an Oct 29 (Oct 31 on eShop) release, and is available only for the Nintendo 3DS. For more information about the game, go to the Rising Star Games Beyblade: Evolution website.