You Spin Me Right Round – Beyblade: Metal Masters Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
When I was a wee lad, schoolyard chums and I would battle our Beyblades day in and day out. Recess couldn’t come fast enough for us craving that rush of pulling the rip cord and the suspense of seeing whose spinning top of death would come out victorious. Ten or so years later, Beyblade: Metal Masters hits shelves for fans young and old to enjoy. Based on the more-recent Beyblade anime, is this portable title a decent addition to the series, or is nostalgia and a brand name all you’ll find inside?
In Metal Masters, players will fill the shoes of over 30 characters from the show by participating in one-on-one Beyblade battles. Each contest plays much like any 2D fighting game, only with spinning tops. At the beginning of each match is the rip-cord screen, where a time limit of three seconds is presented in which players must mash the X (speed), A (power), and B (timing) buttons in order to give their Beyblades an extra boost. Each press fills that button’s meter slightly, and though it’s possible to fill all three completely, it’s extremely difficult. While this little mini-game is very innovative, it occurs at the beginning of each and every battle. After about four or five matches, my thumb was both sore and tired, leaving me with much less desire to continue playing.
Once the tops hit the arena, players must attack their opponent’s Beyblade with their own through various combos of basic, unique, aerial, and jump attacks, all while avoiding or blocking those of their enemies. A spirit meter will fill up on successful hits and blocks, and once filled, a special animated attack can be unleashed. In some instances where Beyblades attack each other at the exact same time, they’ll enter a clash mode. Here, each player most spam the A button as fast as possible. Whoever has the most presses wins the duel, dealing greater damage to their foe. To win the match, a player must either knock the opponent’s top out of the ring, or deplete his/her health down to zero. In general, the gameplay is simple enough to appeal to its younger audience, yet diverse enough to avoid becoming a button mash.
A large appeal to the world of Beyblades is their customization, and Metal Masters is no exception. There are four main parts to a Beyblade: the energy ring that determines unique attacks, the fusion wheel which is used for attack or defense, the spin track that selects the style of rotation and Beyblade’s height, and the performance tip responsible for balance and jumping. Each part has its own stats, including stamina, attack, defense, speed, jump, and recover for players to mix and match to suit their playing style. A lot of depth has been placed into customization, with over 60 parts in each category.
Looking for some extra parts? Metal Masters incorporates an interesting little feature which allows players to input a product code, or password, to receive specific parts or even whole Beyblades. Product codes can be found on the back of the game manual inside your box, but up to this point I’ve been unable to find a single password anywhere, even after a quick search on the Internet. Given time however, I’m sure a complete list of passwords will become available.
So, with gameplay aside, what about a story mode? In short: there really isn’t one. Disguised as the Arcade Mode, what would be a storyline is presented in a short, little tournament. Players pick a main character and two other teammates, then battle their way to the final match. The majority of this mode revolves around these battles, and the miniscule story is ridiculous at best. The worst part is that no matter which character you pick, the same tale is told, with only a slight variance in the intro and script. Players are also forced to use the chosen character’s Beyblade, making all the time spent creating your own top virtually wasted. Arcade Mode seems only relevant to unlock extra pieces and characters, and was very disappointing as a full story (like that of the show) could have made for a true and engaging Beyblade experience.
Luckily, there are a few other modes outside arcade that make up for its shortcomings. Newer players can take part in Mission Mode, which contains 100 small tutorials to help improve skills and teach players the game. For veterans, there is the Survival Mode, which pits the player against every in-game character in an attempt to defeat them all. If a quick match is all you’re looking for, then Practice Mode is for you, as it contains two sub-modes: training and free-battle. Training allows players to fight a stationary, invincible Beyblade for practice, while free-battle sets you against a foe of your choice for a single match. Should you wish to take on another player, Metal Masters uses both single and multi-card wireless play for friends and rivals alike to take each other on head-to-head. Each of these game types allows users to use their custom Beyblades, allowing you to take pride in your creations as they smash the hopes and dreams of some aspiring blader.
While gameplay is well done, audio and video leave a bit to be desired. Visuals are about what you’d expect on the DS, being neither good nor bad. It’s design that is the issue. Characters are portrayed by 2D cartoons cut and pasted from the anime, and battles take place in arenas devoid of life. Instead of an audience, nature, or local architecture, the backgrounds behind the chosen arena are simply left as black darkness, leaving a very incomplete and empty feel. When modifying your Beyblades, you’re treated to a variety of designs ranging from simple shapes to intricate details. However, once these spectacular tops enter a battle, they are changed into incredibly basic versions of themselves, often looking exactly the same as their opponent’s aside from different color schemes, destroying the tone of aesthetic personalization.
Audio suffers the same fate as video: being neutral. Sound effects are your standard swoosh, beep, and crash sounds, and the soundtrack is neither harsh nor memorable. You’ll hear the same victory fanfare each and every time you complete or unlock something, which can get annoying very quickly. Both sides of the audio/video coin are bland or under thought, giving a mediocre performance that may leave players wanting more.
When the battle is over, Beyblade: Metal Masters is the top still spinning, though not as strong as one would like. The smooth and stellar gameplay mechanics are weighed down by a lack of story and simplified visuals and sounds. However, the title is still a fun alternative to the real top-based sport, especially if you have like-minded friends. If you’re a Beyblade fan looking for some extra top-spinning fun, then grab your DS and get ready to “let it rip!”
Final score: 3.5 / 5.0
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