After the announcement of a Dragon Ball FighterZ and seeing its 2D stylised form of combat I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this latest iteration. Dragon Ball games have taken on many forms in years past, each series with its own unique spin on the popular anime’s style of battle. FighterZ, for me, has to be by far one of my favourite renditions of the series’ gaming legacy since playing my first Dragon Ball Z Budokai on the PlayStation 2 many moons ago. It’s clear that developers at Arc System Works really know how to create a fantastic fighting game, one that’s fun for both new and old fans alike.
Upon starting up Dragon Ball FighterZ the game takes some time to introduce you to all the modes you’ll be able to play while exploring the tournament arena. Not being one to sit still for too long in any kind of fighting game I immediately took myself over to the campaign mode where I was gently eased into the battle system only having had a taste last month during the open beta. Despite the fast paced gameplay seen in previews and trailers, FighterZ’s actual battle controls are simplistic enough that even new gamers can pick up the game and learns the ins and outs with little difficulty.
After mastering the basics of battle, more advanced moves including combos, rushes and counters became a real delight to implement. It wasn’t long before I had my opponents backed into a corner and being dealt a swift, but flashy end. Throughout the campaign there were times where battling enemies became cumbersome, due to the fact that the challengers seem to way too easy to defeat. It was only at the end of the three part storyline did battle really instill any sense of urgency and difficulty, something I’d have liked a lot earlier.
While playing through the three available campaign modes more fighters became available and I was able to mix up my three-man teams. This made for some colourful cut scenes shown prior to battle – one scene, in particular, involving a comedic pose-off between Captain Ginyu and Gotenks. The game encourages players to get creative and explore the entire map, taking on every enemy before heading to the boss, since winning battles granted both experience for extra HP. Not only that, defeated enemies quite often drop additional buffs that you can attach in one of three slots to increase your attack, defence, health recovery and prize money.
The story of Dragon Ball FighterZ, penned by series creator Akira Toriyama, is relatively fun to play through, albeit sightly tedious in some places. The three campaign arcs follow the possible outcomes for the game depending on if you play as the Z Warriors, the Freiza Armr (joined by Cell), or the Androids. Each of the three campaign modes have their own tale to tell and tell it wonderfully, paying homage to the series as well as keeping the story nice and succinct. The only negative to the three modes was the fact that by the final arc, involving Android 16, 17, and 18 I had begun to battle my way on autopilot since the majority of the arc had only two fighters to choose from for several hours.
“I truly felt like I was playing effectively, getting to take all I had learned in the campaign and applying it to challenging opponents.”
Outside of the campaign mode, Dragon Ball FighterZ offers much more to the game’s experience in both its Arcade and Offline Tournament modes. You are able to select a team that suits your style of play best and are able to access additional fighters not featured in the original campaign mode, including Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, Future Trunks, Hit, and Beerus to name a few. It was here I got the challenge I was after, and found myself battling with more technique and less full of power, as the CPU enemies were just as good, if not better, than myself. It was in arcade mode I truly felt like I was playing effectively, getting to take all I had learned in the campaign and applying it to challenging opponents.
As you play through both Offline Tournament and Campaign mode you will accrue a large mass of zeni, the currency of the Dragon Ball universe. With your zeni made you will be able to head on over to the shop where you can purchase certain collectible items both to edit your ‘chibi’ avatar and your online profile. You can also move across to a practice mode where you can learn to master even better combos and earn rewards for doing so, which makes taking on some of the arcades harder courses easier to tackle.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is certainly a fun game to play and it has so much right going for it, but there were a few issues that I found detracted from this being the best Dragon Ball game I’ve ever played. As mentioned earlier, the campaign mode at times became a little too monotonous and I found myself simply spamming enemies with the same combos over and over again. This was felt most within the last one, where only two characters were available for selection for at least 3 hours of the Android Arc. It was also during arcade mode where I noticed the difficulty slider from battle to battle would spike horrendously and if you were caught unaware you were sure to have your butt handed to you in no time flat, with no chance of a redo.
Grab a senzu bean and prepare for the battle of your life!
The fast paced battles, easy to learn controls, and numerous gameplay modes in Dragon Ball FighterZ has blown me away. It has been a while since I enjoyed a Dragon Ball fighter this much and it has me looking forward to playing it well into to the future with both online and offline challengers. It stays true to the world of Dragon Ball and makes you feel as though the fighters were literally yanked straight out of the anime. With more future content planned for the game’s already well-rounded battle roster, it will be a long while before I’m ready to put down the controls on this epic 2D anime battle spectacular.