The Dragon Ball Z franchise is one that is near and dear to the hearts of many people. The adventures of Goku and his companions were always guaranteed to bring entertaining and gloriously over-the-top battles. The anime in particular lends itself perfectly to the medium of video games, providing a potentially satisfying power fantasy as one of these deity like figures. DRAGON BALL FighterZ is the most recent title in a long line of Dragon Ball Z games, and delivers a flashy and accessible fighting game that anybody can enjoy.
Players will be drawn to the game’s story mode, which spans across three arcs, each from a different character’s perspective. The plot involves the return of Cell and Frieza, a mysterious possession of Goku’s body, as well as the persistent threat of an army of evil clones. The story does an admirable job at creating an excuse to pit beloved heroes and villains against one another in recognizable matchups. Unfortunately, actually playing through the campaign shows the story it fails to be memorable.. A slightly different outfit isn’t sufficient at hiding the fact that many of your opponents are the same. Cutscenes relay the events adequately, but are progressed through button prompts, which inevitably leads to characters standing awkwardly and quietly while awaiting the player’s input.
However, there are plenty of inside jokes between characters that fans of the anime will appreciate. Characters commenting on Krillin’s bizarre marriage to an android or Frieza’s tense conversation with Piccolo after the former had destroyed the latter’s entire planet tickled the Dragon Ball Z fan in me. If the story mode is too involved for your tastes, there is also a straightforward arcade mode, which is great practice for multiplayer matches.
The first thing that gamers will notice when playing DRAGON BALL FighterZ is how immaculately the game emulates the aesthetic of the television show. The voice acting, whether in English or Japanese, is superb and the visuals crisp and colorful, faithfully portraying the bombastic action the series is known for. Ranging from the striking blue light of a kamehameha blast to Trunk’s intricate hand movements before a Burning Attack, it’s all rendered with clear emphasis on detail and accuracy. The artists’ and developers’ love for the anime is obvious, and gameplay truly looks and feels like you’re watching one of the many climatic battles in the Dragon Ball Z universe.
DRAGON BALL FighterZ’s fighting system is intuitive, even to a casual fighting game fan like myself. Like most 2D fighting games, there is a light, medium, heavy, and special attack button, as well as character-specific moves. If you can reliably perform a hadouken with Ryu, you can perform every character specific move in DRAGON BALL FighterZ. In addition to this, acquired ki can be expended to perform powerful ultimate attacks, some of which are capable of destroying the entire stage if used as a finishing move. Matches take place between teams of three, similar to the Tekken Tag or Marvel Vs. Capcom series. Managing the team’s health, calling in assists, and chaining combination attacks are essential for success in these chaotic, fast-paced battles.
One of the most important aspects of a fighting game is its roster of characters, and DRAGON BALL FighterZ covers a broad range from classic fighters as well as newer characters like Beerus and Hit. Characters often have special dialogue depending on who they are fighting with or against, remarking on past history or adding little bits of lore. Some characters missing from the roster show up in some fighters’ ultimate moves. It gave me great joy to see Gohan’s brother Goten help out by firing off an additional kamehameha, or Android 17 popping in to help Android 18 crush a hapless enemy between simultaneous attacks. However, I feel the accessibility of DRAGON BALL FighterZ has been taken too far. Every character has two easy combos through spamming light or medium attack. As a newbie, I appreciate the ease of how these are performed, but it often feels as if combat is just mindless button-mashing to get your combo off before your opponent does. Thankfully, these combos can be countered with heavy down attacks and blocks.
The online component of DRAGON BALL FighterZ features a hub world, where the player controls a customizable avatar in a virtual lobby. However, this system is not without its hiccups. Matchmaking has problems. Random matchups can take upwards of several minutes to find an opponent. Even attempting to connect with somebody on my friend’s list was a headache, as it required both players to be in the same lobby and find the same area of the map to join in a ring match. While I appreciate the intention of this system, the online multiplayer of this game is sub optimal.
Despite these issues, DRAGON BALL FighterZ is a beautiful, exciting, and above all else, fun fighting game. Arc System Works have created an experience that both casual and hardcore players can enjoy. Time will tell if the online community remains strong in the next few months. If you are a fan of the source material or fighting games in general, you likely already own this game. If not, DRAGON BALL FighterZ is guaranteed to bring hours of over the top entertainment in an accessible, colorful package that shouldn’t be missed.
- Fun and Accesible Fighting System
- Authentic Presentation and Voice Acting
- Good Range of Fighters in Roster
- Combinations are Easily Spammable
- Shoddy Online Multiplayer Implementation
- Bland Story Mode