LOS ANGELES--Based on the animated series of the same name, Battle B-Daman lets you play the role of a young man named Yamato as he takes his mini-mech, Cobalt Blade, against a variety of opponents. We went hands-on with the handheld game's tutorial mode to get a grasp on how the B-Daman battling gameplay works on the Game Boy Advance.
You're introduced first to a creature called B-DaMage, who is apparently the overseer of what the game calls B-Dabattles. He's a cute little critter who insists he's not a talking seal, but whatever his lineage, he obviously has a lot of information to share about battling. The game then shifts to the battlefield screen (B-Dabattlefield, if you're a purist), which consists of a grid that spreads itself out before you. You don't see much of your B-Daman, which shows up as a bare outline at the bottom of the screen. All movement is from a fixed-perspective camera attached to the B-Daman, though, so it's not as if you need to adjust your viewpoint.
You're able to strafe to the left and right, shift forward just slightly, and tilt your B-Daman at an angle to attack your foe, who will appear at the opposite end of the long vertical field. You'll attack with weapons called B-Daballs, which are provided for you on your side of the map. If your machine happens to run out of B-Daballs, you just need to strafe over your supply to recharge. If you shoot a ball and it sails past your opponent without striking him, that B-Daball will be added to your enemy's stockpile. The same goes for you, though, so you'll be able to accumulate ammunition by deftly avoiding attacks. Also, if you happen to shoot your opponent's stockpiles, you can collect them for yourself.
The rest of the time you're just shifting to the left and right, avoiding enemy fire while trying to nail the opposing B-Daman. If you hold down the button you use to fire balls, you can actually charge up a power shot, which will take off even more of your rival's HP. Battles run until the winner is determined by whose HP runs out first. While the intro battle we fought wasn't terribly complex, one thing that we did notice was that if you manage to hit an incoming attack with your own B-Daball, you can deflect it so that it ricochets off harmlessly. There are likely other such battle tricks waiting the further into the game you get.
Battle B-Daman is currently scheduled for a July release on the Game Boy Advance system, so all you anime fans out there won't have too long to wait for this battler to hit store shelves.