I do try not to have every review a game for a Nintendo console, just they are my primary games consoles and the ones I can most easily assess. I did have a PS2 back a while ago and I could try to get that up and running. (sorry went on a bit of a tangent there). Dragon Ball though being one of the most popular animes in the west had some good games, but not any truly great games. Sadly this is very common with licensed material, so I’m happy to say that today’s entry bucks that trend and is a damn good game right away.
Dragon Ball Fighter Z is created by Arc System Works, known for the anime esc fighters Blazblue and Guilty Gear, so going into this game you knew it was in good hands. The game plays as a team fighter. You select a trio of characters and fight an opposing trio of characters, able to swap between characters to partially regain health and call in support from surviving team mates, the usual stuff. Of course since this is a Dragon Ball game the characters available come from the Dragon Ball franchise, namely Z and Super (no classic or movie people yet, and here’s hoping no GT ever stains this game) each with their own attacks and super moves.
I should also point out that unlike other recent Dragon Ball games, transformations aren’t a big part of this game. They usually are shown in their power up forms from the start ,though Goku and Vegeta appear as both regular Super Saiyan and Blue, though Blue has to be unlocked normally. This means that your power bar (which goes up to 7) will primarily be used for super moves.
Since this is a licensed Dragon Ball game, each character that appears has their own lines and interacts with other characters, often having special lines when it’s against a specific person. I must admit my main plays of the game was single player (years of playing with a slow internet or against a person who constantly rage quit really soured me to play beat-em-ups online) and its very solid.
As well as the unusual arcade mode you get the main (well other main since main draw is probably playing a really good beat-em-up with Dragon Ball characters) draw is the story mode. While it introduces a story explanation for why some of the weakest characters in the franchise *cough* Yamcha *cough* can suddenly go toe to toe with Beerus the God of Destruction (hmm, maybe my next anime review should be Dragon Ball Battle of Gods and explain who he is and why he’s just so great)… something about power inhibiting waves and a human soul being bonded with characters…
Ok the game was my friend’s as I don’t have a PS4 and I skipped the start to play the villains arc. You see in story mode you get 3 different stories, one focusing on the good guys, one on the bad, and then one on the androids, for this games main antagonist is new character Android 21 who you unlock by completing the game.
Story mode has you move along a map and fight clones of the Dragon Ball cast (including those characters not in the story but in the game like Future Trunks and Teen Gohan) levelling up as you do so. Then fight a boss and map completed. On to the next part of the story.
Of course if that was just it, it would be kind of dull. By pairing up certain characters or having certain characters fighting certain enemies you set off special cut scenes, including interactions that you never got to see in the series like Frieza laughing at how Yamcha got killed by a Saibamen (Dragon Ball fans will get that but for those that aren’t…. sorry)
The fights themselves have special interactions too. It’s easy enough to get a destruction finish by using an attack of considerable power to finish off your foe resulting in a massive explosion sometimes seen from space! If you use the right character, on the right stage and finish them off with a standing heavy attack you will perform a dynamic finish, which is a lovely re-enacting of what happened in the series such as Teen Gohan finishing off cell.
Combos are both easy and hard to pull off. While you can perform some what dramatic looking combos by pressing only one button multiple times, there are other combos that require precise timing of multiple ones in a chain that can lead to some insane damage (some even finishing with using a level 3 super move.) You can find these out in the training area.
Playing the game you will get fight money which can be used to buy random items from the shop. They are entirely cosmetic and not linked to micro transactions so I’m fine with this (mainly the not linked to micro transactions part).You’re encouraged to play the game more rather than pressured to spend more money on the game. In fact we found that you got more money for S ranking arcade mode encouraging you to get better at the game. These cosmetics include titles, additional colours but most prominent are the adorable little chibis representing you in the online lobbies.
Dragon Ball Fighter Z is a game that stands up not only as the best Dragon Ball game out there, but one of the best beat-em-ups you can buy. Currently there are 8 more dlc characters planned (here’s hoping Caulifla) but rather than some beat-em-up games, they chose not to unveil dlc before the game came out and instead focus on what’s in the game.
So pick this game up and see why Dragon Ball Fighter Z is the beat-em-up everyone is talking about… more so if they are a Dragon Ball fan.
5/5 (my friend said he would never speak to me again if I didn’t give it that score)