Friday, September 25, 2015

LBX: Little Battlers eXperience (3DS) Review

When I first saw LBX: Little Battlers eXperience, I figured it for a robotic Pokemon game, which would have been really cool.  I was only half right, as it shares more in common with Custom Robo than the monster collecting franchise.  This can be a good thing.

The first fight or two went perfectly fine, and I won.  The next fight was significantly tougher, and I lost.  Thinking I was supposed to story-wise, I let it go... and got hit with a game over.

"What?" I said.  "But that guy took little damage and did a lot, surely I was supposed to lose."

So I tried it again.  Knowing that it wasn't scripted that I lose, I changed my tactics and barely scraped out a win.  I later received a pistol and had in mind a strategy to ensure that loss wouldn't happen again.  Shoot from a distance, then switch to melee when they got close.  This... didn't go as well as I had hoped.  I was able to get some wins, but a loss or two as well.

I noticed that it tended to be a losing proposition for me to fight at a distance, and went back to primarily using melee.  To get them close without having to dodge bullets, I would hide around the environment and sucker punch them when they closed in.  It was super effective.  It also made the game more fun, since I was able to consistently win.  Although, I wasn't really proud of winning like that.

As previously mentioned, you run around a small area and fight other robots.  There are up to three people per side, and there are handicap matches.  There are some different styles too, such as one takedown to win or three, even if only one on one.  I don't really like the one on one with three takedowns, but I do like the battles with only one takedown to win.  My favorite fights are the three on three.

These multi-bot fights tend to be in the "danger" zones, which are similar to dungeons in other RPGs.  While moving around in them, there are a lot of random encounters, and they tend to be against multiple opponents.  Outside of these zones, there are special people marked on the map that will challenge you to an LBX fight if you agree to it.  These people level up each episode, so they will always be a decent challenge.  They each use different rules, so some are street regulations (the one takedown that I prefer) or standard regulations (the three takedowns I don't).  There's even some boss fights in the game that are not against other LBXs.

The controls are fairly spot-on.  Attacks are done precisely, and the jump responds when I need it to.  I don't always jump as far as I think I will, but that only costs me a second while jumping up the terrain.  Switching weapons and targets works well, with my only problem being the placement of the D-pad in relation to the Circle Pad.  It's not feasible to switch targets while moving, so I tend to do it while blocking.

You can equip up to two sets of weapons, and you have a good variety to chose from.  There are basically melee and ranged weapons with several types in each.  Equipping them will gain experience separately, and they each have their own special attacks.  There is a meter you fill during combat that will allow you to use these special attacks.  I feel like there is more to it than that, since I can't always use it even when I have enough meter.  Enemies can also use them, but thankfully you can dodge them.  When one is activated, you have several options on how you want to try and avoid the attack.  You don't always know what special attack they are using, and each one has one way to dodge it completely.  However, I found that if you stick a special attack at the end of the combo that knocks the opponent into the air, they cannot dodge it.  Nice!

Each LBX can equip several pieces of armor, and each piece gains experience from battle.  So if you find a set you like the look of, putting work into it can make it as good as something better.  Besides the equipment, there is also a small grid of an LBX's core that can equip different things.  Each robot needs at least a motor, battery, cpu and core memory, but there are also auxiliary pieces you can equip.  Add in the ability to have multiple batteries and motors for extra benefit, and you can see the combinations of everything are near endless.  It might be a bit much for younger fans, but I love stuff like this.

The story mode of the has 12 episodes, and follows the TV show pretty closely from what I've heard.  I didn't even know there was a TV show, but the game is fun even without that.  It takes about 25-30 hours to run through it, but there is a lot of post-game content if you want to keep playing.  All of the best parts and weapons are only obtainable after the credits roll, and you have to beat some tough opponents for them.  Again, this seems similar to Custom Robo, which isn't a bad thing.

While I won't spoil the story, there were a few things I want to highlight.  Usually in a game/show/story like this, where a plucky young kid has to save the world, there isn't much explanation as to why the adults don't just beat up the kid and take his/her magic mcguffin and end the story.  In Little Battlers eXperience, though, they actually do bother to work this into the plot.  It's not foolproof, but I do appreciate it.  It also explains why they will take over the world by fighting with children's robots, and why they are so important.  It's a huge leap ahead of saving the world with trading card games!

There is some online interaction where you can fight other players.  I personally didn't try it, as I don't know anyone else with the game and I'm not big on that kind of versus stuff anyway.  There are a few downloads that will give you capsule machines.  They are costly but have some strong equipment if you get lucky.  Plus there are passwords you can put into the game that will unlock high level parts and weapons to buy.  They are expensive, so you won't just breeze through the game by entering the codes.  However once you save enough money...

Not knowing what to think at first, I was excited to try out LBX: Little Battlers eXperience.  It went well for a bit, then got aggravating when the computer opponents would easily out-damage me.  Once I figured out a winning strategy for myself and got some gear I was comfortable with, the game became much more fun and a little easier.  There are a ton of parts to collect and weapons to try out.  While I don't think I will be able to put in enough time to 100% the game, there is a lot of content and I enjoy playing it.

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