Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
It’s hard to think of an anime that was as popular as Dragonball Z in the 90s. Sure, Pokemon, Cardcaptors and Neon Genesis Evangelion all got their share of the spotlight, but Dragonball Z was (and still is) top dog for many anime fans. One of the few anime that can be translated into a video game decently, Dragonball Z has seen games released on almost every major game console imaginable. The latest game, is Dragonball Z: Battle of Z on the Sony PlayStation 3. It features all of the characters and events that a DBZ fan would expect, but instead of one-on-one fighting like in past entries, it features large group battles, with up to eight characters duking it out at a time. Is it a satisfying game? Or is it a bumbling mess like Hercules? Read on…
Battle of Z presents the series’ most popular story lines as simple missions through a menu. Sure it would have been nice to have a more detailed experience such as an explorable hub-level, but the menu’s simplicity allows players to progress through the game quickly and without any confusion.
If (like myself) you are unfamiliar with Dragonball Z, you may find yourself confused anyway, as there is so much content in the game it has to jump rather large gaps in the story, though these usually events of little significance. Think of this game as a playable highlight reel, or a “best of Dragonball Z” and you’d be on track. For the record, I’m only vaguely familiar with Dragonball Z, and I was still able to grasp the story and character’s through Battle of Z’s succinct presentation.
An opening tutorial mission sees Goku (DBZ’s main protagonist) on patrol. The game teaches the player the basic controls as well as some advanced maneuvers, such as flying, attacking and dodging, as well as other game mechanics. Upon completing the mission (and every other mission), the player is rewarded a grade for fighting. The better you fight, the better your score, pretty simple. The grades aren’t necessary but they do add some replayability to the game, particularly to the side missions, which are non-canon events such as a seemingly unending army of Saiba men that the player must defeat as quickly as possible.
Combat is Dragonball: Battle of Z is fast-paced, though it does feel as though there is a very limited amount of moves available for each player. While performing combos with their character, the player fills an energy meter. Projectile attacks and other special moves drain that meter, and eventually players can perform super moves, such as Tri-beams. Unfortunately, it does feel as though every character plays the same. Yes, eventually you will unlock a huge roster of characters, but similarly to the Dynasty Warriors games (love them or hate them) it really does boil down to sing the best combo or move from your chosen character. Mash, rinse, repeat. I suspect that online multiplayer battles would have more variety, but single player’s enjoyment comes down to seeing the story progress, unlocking characters and cards, and achieving a high mission grade.
Some of the fights can be quite difficult, and these can be quite stressful. As the game advances so quickly it can feel as though you’ve barely had time to master the game’s basic mechanics, and then you’re flung into battle royales featuring some of the toughest baddies in the series. There is very little opportunity to counter your enemies, and none at all when you’re being juggled by a team of characters relentlessly. This difficulty does come with a satisfying bonus should you succeed though, it’s just a harrowing experience until you get there.
- Group battles in a Dragonball Z game!
- Huge roster
- Difficult in some areas
- Some missions are mindless mash-fests.
Ultimately, Dragonball Z: Battle of Z comes across as a rushed game with repetitive gameplay. Die-hard fans of Dragonball Z will enjoy it, but gamers who are simply curious might find their time better spent on another game.