I am a big anime fan, and “Dragon Ball Z” is one of my favorites of all time. Since 1986, there have been dozens of games based on the long-running anime series. Most games have been one-on-one 2D standard fighting games. Over the last couple of iterations, they have moved more into a 3D plane, but they still feel like they have limited range of motion. “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z” is literally the 80th “DBZ” game released, but it feels like the biggest and most true to the show than any other released so far.
“DBZ” is a classic series for many reasons; the story is a time-tested struggle between good and evil as Goku and friends must protect the Earth from all sorts of alien threats. If you have to pick one word to describe “DBZ,” it’s “spectacle.” This series is known for over-the-top fighting, packed with macho guys beating each other up, screaming, flying around, and throwing huge fireballs and lasers around. “Battle of Z” is a very close representation of the show with fast-paced action, a huge roster of characters, and incredibly beautiful cell-shaded HD graphics.
“Battle of Z” is technically a fighting game, but it is very different then any fighter I have played; the controls are very simple. There isn’t really any combos to remember or complicated controller motions to learn. The moves are very simple, and most can be done with just the press of one button, but flying around and launching big attacks still feel powerful.
Combat takes place in large arenas where players have full three-dimensional movement. You can run along the ground or fly through the air in any direction. You can power up any one of the 67 playable characters and unleash their character-specific special attack. If you are a fan of the show, then you know several of the characters also have different versions or transformations. All of the special moves are very different; some are huge energy blasts, and there are others that provide support and healing for your teammates. An interesting feature is character customization. When you finish certain story missions, you unlock cards that you can use to augment the stats and moves of the guy you are playing; a good feature is that you can automatically give your best cards to the fighter you are presently using.
The story mode in this game is huge. All of the main story arcs are recreated in the game: the Saiyan, Frieza, Cell, and Buu Sagas and a few of the movies. “Battle of Z” recreates many of the classic scenes from all of “DBZ,” and each of the cut scenes and fights make you feel like you’re watching the show. Some fights have multiple playable characters that you can use. They can be controlled by AI or by a friend with co-op gameplay over the Internet. Unfortunately, there is no local multiplayer. The normal co-op is only four players, but you and your friends can team up and battle another team of four in huge hectic online battles. In multiplayer, there is no character select restriction, which means you can have a team of all Gokus or Friezas, making things very confusing. Having teams like this aren’t available in single player.
One of the most interesting online modes is the “Dragon Ball Grab.” In this mode, the dragon balls are scattered around and you have to collect them before the other players. You have to hunt down the other balls, knock them out of the other combatants’ hands, and collect as many as you can. Some of the other modes have you teaming up to fight huge bosses, such as “Super Ape Vegeta.” Most of the online modes are very frantic with people flying around and fireballs all over, but it feels authentic to the show.
If you are just looking for fighting game, then this really isn’t the game for you, but if you are a diehard “DBZ” fan, you are going to have a lot of fun with this game. The controls are simple, the graphics are great, and there is an incredible amount of content to unlock for you and your online friends. If you haven’t seen the show in a while, “Battle for Z” is a good excuse to relive all of the best moments from the series and even experience some new moments you may have missed.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]