Before I start I would like to tell you to read this review, even if you think Digimon is for little kids. When I first heard of Digimon I thought, BAH, just another Pokemon clone. I didn’t like pokemon very much. One day I was so bored I decided to just watch Digimon on the TV. To my surprise it was really awesome, since the digimon fight a lot and they can transform into gigantic beasts. It was my luck that I saw an episode where Patamon digivolved into Angemon and I fell in love immediately.
DRA (Digimon Rumble Arena)
When you first insert the disc in your Playstation you’re treated to an amazing intro movie with very nice special effects. At this point I knew immediately that this was a game I was going to like. When choosing Single Player mode at the main menu you’re taken to the character select screen. Here you choose your character, and after the loading screen finishes, you’re knee-deep in action. After the first level started, the first thing I noted were the platforms. Being a fan of Super Smash Bros. I had no trouble using this to my advantage. Special effects in this game are awesome; if you hit your enemy with a special attack you see nice special effects while your enemy hits the floor. Special moves are of course coupled with nice graphical effects.
DBS (Digimon Battle Spirit)
After putting the cartridge in your Game Boy Advance and passing all the loading screens, you get to watch an intro movie with all the characters and their digivolved forms, where you also see the shadows of the various hidden characters. Not expecting much from a GBA graphically, I have to admit that the intro looked very nice. After pushing 'start', loading 1P mode and selecting your character you begin with the first battle. Again, I saw the platforms that I love so much. Special moves and digivolves don’t really have great special effects in this game which disappointed me at first. On with the music!
After starting my first match I listened to a nice catchy tune. The music was a bit calm but I liked it a lot. The sound effects are just marvelous. There’s nothing more satisfying in a game than actually hearing your characters talk. Another thing I like is when the digimon digivolves, their owner appears and gives them a little push in the back. Unlike many other games, this game has the voices of the original characters and digimons. This is what I liked most, because there’s nothing more irritating than hearing a different voice than you are used to for a certain character.
The music in DBS is just awful. If you have seen the Japanese episodes you will not, I repeat NOT find any of those tunes in this game. They just made a new tune which is not even nice to hear. Not having good music in a fight game is like not having a gun in a shooting game. Not having decent music in this game is a very big disappointment and will certainly have a great impact on my final decision.
At the top left and right corner of the screen you’ll find room for two cards, which can be picked up during the game. These have various functions including boosting your health and digivolve meter. But beware, you can also decrease the health and digivolve, and even reduce your attack power by 50%. After getting a beating I noticed that the bar on the bottom was flashing. I pressed (by accident) L1+L2 and voila, my pal came out and told me to digivolve. The digivolve sequence is somewhat weird and looks like there was a green spider web around the digimon until it digivolved. After digivolving I tried the basic moves again and noticed they were extremely powerful. Doing a special attack brings out some amazing graphics and effects. I really compliment the makers on this because usually games limit the possibilities of what characters to what they can do in series. You can perform almost every move from the TV show and that was one thing that I really loved. Another great thing about the game was the way the levels interact with the game. In one level there’s a crane moving crates from one place to another. You can get hit by the crane and the crates can fall on you. Another level has boulders coming from the back, so if you don’t watch out you’ll get squashed by them.
Comparing this game to DRA I can say that this game is totally different in gameplay. Instead of knocking out your enemy, you have to hit him and collect the spirits he drops. The spirits look like little balls, yours are orange and the enemies' are blue. The one who collects most spirits wins. The card system was replaced with little monsters and if you hit them or they hit you over 3 times, they die and leave an item. Here you only have items that can help you get more spirits off your opponent. If you hit your opponent with a clock, he freezes for a while so you can plan a devastating attack. Throwing a baseball will confuse your enemy. If you throw a Dark Sphere at your opponent he goes into, what I call, fury mode. He starts attacking like mad, but he is also more vulnerable because he doesn’t block your attacks anymore. Another thing changed is the Digivolve system. You don’t have a meter anymore to digivolve whenever you want, but you have to wait for a little flying fairy, and if you touch it, you digivolve. Also you have got very little time when digivolved but every attack you do brings about 3-4 spirits. The enemies in this game are very easy, except for the hidden characters you sometimes encounter. The boss is medium difficulty. Something I like is when you are digivolved, your enemy runs and tries to hide because he can’t collect spirits from you anymore.
In both games there is no story whatsoever. You just keep bashing your enemies one by one to reach the boss eventually. A story mode would be nicer, but I guess that’s why Bandai made a load of other Digimon games for Playstation. I hope to see a story Digimon game on GBA soon too.
DRA + DBS
The multiplayer mode doesn’t really offer much. In DRA it brings some bonus games and even better music, but other than that the two games are identical in multiplayer; beat each other’s brains out. I must say that I like the multiplayer mode of DBS more because it’s not just about bashing each other, but also collecting the spirits which makes it more fun to play.
My final judgment of these games ends in a draw. DRA has better graphics and better music but DBS has that great gameplay mode of collecting your opponent’s spirits. I would recommend this game to everyone that likes the fighting genre and maybe even the ones that don’t.