reviews\ Jan 26, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Digimon Battle Spirit - GBA - Review

Guilmon, a powerful red dragon-like creature, whips its lengthy tail and reveals its long sharp nails as it readiest itself for a fight.  Its opponent, you would think, is an equally menacing creature but, lo and behold, it’s a short rabbit-like creature with stubby little legs and hands that couldn’t even harm a fly.  Their battle, though, will be nothing short of spectacular.  Is this fight taking place on a television screen?  The answer is no.  Digimon fans can rejoice now that their favorite characters have finally found themselves in a true battle royal on their Game Boy Advance systems.  Welcome to Digimon Battle Spirit, a fighting game featuring the characters from the popular Digimon cartoons.


Battle Spirit is a fighting game that pits you against different Digimon characters (seven in total) against an environment like any other fighting game.  There’s a story to this game, although you won’t encounter in throughout the course of the game.  According to the instruction manual, it seems that in the far dark corners of the Digital World, an unknown Digimon is born out of evil.  It grows to become a powerful and destructive force that threatens both the Digital World as well as the Real World (a variation of our world).  The Digimon and their tamers from both worlds join together to challenge this threat and put an end to it before it destroys their worlds.


The game begins with you choosing from the seven available Digimon characters, each with their own powers and abilities.  You can choose from Guilmon; Terriermon (the rabbit-like creature), Renamon, Veemon, Wormmon, Agumon or Sukamon but gamers can later unlock other Digimon by defeating them.  Some Digimon are more powerful than others are and the game does a good job of keeping in the spirit of the cartoons.  For example, Terriermon can expand its ears and float . . . making it a hard target to hit.  Meanwhile Sukamon is a mischief-maker that might seem weak at first until it transforms into a powerful being that even Terriermon’s floating abilities won’t save it from Sukamon’s attack.


The game‘s controls are pretty basic and those gamers familiar with fighting games will easily get into the game’s action.  The level battle begins by pitting you against a Digimon in an environment that range from a desert to a volcanic island.  There are several platforms you can jump up on as you battle your opponent using normal attacks (slaps, punches, etc.) or power items you get from destroying an enemy Digimon (that constantly drop down and occasionally get in your way).  Your Digimon can also Digivolve, transforming you into a powerful being that can give you the advantage for a limited time.


The game’s basic rules are simple: beat on an opponent and steal the D-Spirit Balls (which are usually either blue or orange) that come out of their bodies after each successful blow.  This also works the other way around so your enemy can steal you D-Spirit Balls from you.  You can, though, race to get your spirits balls back after an opponent knocked them off you.  The Digimon with the most spirit balls after the timer runs out wins the match, thus moving a player into the next fight.  This might seem fun at first, but really that’s all there is to this game.  Still there are some extras to be found here like unlocking hidden Digimon or finding the hidden base.


Graphics-wise, Battle Spirit possesses some sharp looking backgrounds that really do look great.  The backgrounds are made up of colorful arenas like desert landscapes filled with giant cactus plants and an ancient shrine.  The characters themselves aren’t bad either and fans can easily recognize their favorites while they battle it out.  There are some interesting special effects of Digimon transforming or using power items such as lightning.   


The game’s soundtrack is disappointing and can get a bit irritating after awhile of playing the game.  It seldom changes tune throughout the game but the youngest gamers really wouldn’t mind this at all.  The sound effects also follow the soundtrack in its loud and repetitive popping and crash sounds.  This is the kind of game that will make parents grateful that there’s a volume control and a port for a good pair of earphones.


If you’re a fan of Digimon and love a good fighting game, you can’t go wrong with Battle Spirit--although the battles could get pretty dull after awhile.  Still, this is the perfect way to introduce fighting games to young gamers.  Also the game offers a multiplayer mode so they can battle against a friend in a friendly match.  Granted, this game could have been much better but what’s here is not at all that bad. 



#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.6
Control-wise, the game keeps things basic.  Your Digimon possesses unique powers that can be used during the battle, but pretty much the fights are really slap-fests with some power items thrown in as well as the transformations.  Grab a lighting power item and sent a volt of lightning at your opponent.  Digivolve into a powerful being and you’ll be temporarily faster and stronger.  You can dodge your enemy’s attacks by jumping off the platforms and jumping away from power attacks. 


Your environment also plays a hand in helping you or hindering you.  For example, fireballs come showering down in the volcanic island area and could harm you.  In the Origin Town area, there’s a block that can help you jump higher away from your opponent.


Graphics: 8.0
The visuals really stand out in Battle Spirit with its wonderful backgrounds filled with vivid colors and sharp looking characters that can be easily identified.  The special effects look especially good when each Digimon character happens to unleash their own attack power or when they use items containing specific damage powers.  Characters also transform (or Digivolve) into powerful beings for a few seconds--the effect is pretty neat to watch. 


Sound: 6.0
The tinny tunes featured in this game will bring the old Commodore 64 games to mind and kids will definitely not mind it at all--but for anyone over twenty, however, be prepared to be completely annoyed.  Aside from the grating music, the sound effects don’t make much of an impression either.


Difficulty: Medium
The single player mode really challenges gamers, although there‘s nothing here that‘s frustrating enough that the younger gamers will just give up playing.  The difficulty setting can be changed, however, for those gamers that want harder levels or easier ones depending on their comfort.  You can also adjust the timer’s timeframe.


Concept: 7.0
Super Smash Brothers will come to mind when playing Battle Spirit and in a way the game does borrow elements from that popular Super Mario game.  Still, there’s not much to this game and that is the game’s ultimate weakness.  If anything they could have added cut scenes that advance the story.


Multiplayer: 7.5
Two players can take on each another in true Digimon battle fashion by hooking up too GBA systems and linking it with the GBA Link Cable.  Like any fighting game, this one is more fun playing against a friend using their favorite Digimon characters.  The surprise here is that your opponent won’t know what Digimon you chose until the fight actually begins.


Overall: 7.0
Digimon Battle Spirit has most of the characters young fans of the series will simply adore, but the battles don’t have enough oomph or variety to keep gamers interested for very long.  There are some neat visuals here and fans will certainly love choosing their favorite Digimon and battling against a friend in multiplayer mode, but this is a game that loses its appeal pretty quickly even for die hard fans.


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