DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZ [Review]: Superb Saiyan.
“VEGETA” TRAVIS MOODY: This is the video game that made this geek god a saiyan weeb. Sure, I’ve always had a thing for Japanese culture (and it doesn’t hurt to have been a huge mark for New Japan Pro Wrestling for many many years, especially these last great few), but I was always a casual anime guy at best and an even further distant manga man. Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist, Spirited Away, The Seven Deadly Sins, yadda yadda. Love ’em.. but I was always a very uber-cas’ Dragon Ball Z fan, only having watched random episodes of Super on Adult Swim. Enter Tuesday, July 13, over in downtown LA at E3 2017, when I first landed these four eyes on Dragon Ball FighterZ over at the Bandai Namco booth — and that’s the day everything changed. Anime now dominates my inner-geek as much as Marvel and Mario do, and this wonderfully stunning, engagingly hyperactive crossbreed contest between anime and video games has been #1 on my radar ever since…
“GOKU” CHRIS SAWIN: I second that last notion. DBFZ is something that is really fun to watch and interact with. Considered 2.5D, the easiest way to explain the game’s graphics is that it’s a mix between 2D and 3D animation; it looks cel shaded like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, except with more muscles and banana hair. This allows the fluid aspects of traditional animation to overcome the blocky and clunky aspects of 3D animation. You can choose up to three fighters to be on your team and who you choose results in different opening animations for each battle opening up endless possibilities of pre-battle animated interactions between all of your favorite characters.
TRAVIS MOODY: Now you can see why Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was such a bummer to most people. While the fighter looked pretty good (although nothing close to as lovely as this), it lacked the 3v3 combat we loved from the previous gen’s Ultimate titles. Maybe that’s a good thing considering how poor the roster was. The Day One roster for DBFZ, on the other hand, is tremendous. Although it was a no-brainer to purchase the FighterZ Edition of the game for the “brotherly” pair of Super Saiyan God Super Saiyans and the 8 remaining DLC (who’ve yet TBD), I’d be just alright with the vanilla. Trying to pick 3 each time out for a contest isn’t easy, and the interactions you mention add so many layers to an already Super lengthy Story Mode. I really do feel like I’m watching and playing — particularly during those ever rare “Dramatic Finishes” — a full season of Dragon Ball Super.
CHRIS SAWIN: There’s a history behind this game longer than those 125 episodes of DBS you’ve watched, Moody. DBFZ is developed by Arc System Works, the video game developer responsible for the Guilty Gear series, BlazBlue, and DBZ: Supersonic Warriors for the Gameboy Advance. I should let the followers know that, yet while the move lists are altered slightly between characters, you can choose anyone and still have a basic idea of how to use them because they’re all pretty similar — except, of course, the Saiyans are stronger and level up faster than the human fighters. I find myself using Goku (duh), Gotenks, and Vegeta (or sometimes Gohan) being my go-to characters and Yamcha being incredibly fun to use as well. I love being able to swap any 3 of my fighters in and out at will to jump in and assist with ki blasts and other special moves almost whenever. While a much better game, sure, it takes the Marvel vs. Capcom formula and brings it into the world of Dragon Ball Z/Super.
TRAVIS MOODY: Yamcha? That guy’s like the Yoshi-Tatsui of Dragon Ball! Straight jobber status. And you can’t use Vegeta, Chris! You haven’t earned the right! “Heheh!” No surprise here that I adore the blue-clad (often blue-haired), savage Saiyan prince the most, but it was Krillin in Story Mode whose determined heart and undying will–my “clutch shooter”–that had me up leaping off my couch. Surprisingly, both Nappa and Majin Buu were a hell of a lot of fun to tag in and I tend to not like Zangief/Butterbean-sized characters in fighting games. And those Ginyu Force summons? My goodness.
As for MvC comparisons, I’d argue that DBFZ is an even more casual-friendly fighter; literally anyone can hop in, quickly learn the assists/tags and teleports/specials, smash some buttons (or press a simple trigger for an auto-combo, which thankfully like MvC: Infinite, is steadily depowered), and watch the screen explode. This one’s all about feeling the speed and power, unlike, say, the more tactically efficient space and timing of last year’s Injustice 2/Tekken 7. The signature sci-fi sound effects help characterize the action like a fight game version of pinball. E-sports pros will find the game an exhilarating enough challenge, too, with a wide assortment of regional lobbies to enter and multi-hit combos to master. One note: the only way to play DBFZ is to enter a lobby, even for Story Mode or local couch competition; but fear not, you can enter an offline lobby even when the others are shaky, full or Shaqtin’ a fool.
CHRIS SAWIN: Yeah, MoodZ, there isn’t really much of a downside to Dragon Ball FighterZ, but it feels like its potential with DLC may be greater than what we end up with. Dragon Ball Super fans will likely be clamoring for the likes of Jiren and Kefla (I could totally see Jaco being thrown in there), but honestly what’s a Dragon Ball game without Mr. Satan? There are consistent Saiyaman references, so that seems a likely character later on. I’m personally hoping for the likes of Broly, Janemba, Tapion, Hirudegarn, the entire Frieza family (King Cold, Cooler, Cyborg Frieza, Frost) Garlic Jr., Bardock, Turles, and or Raditz. If they really want to get creative, they should make a mini game in the vein of Metal Slug where you choose one of the Z fighters and you plow through multiple levels fighting off all the androids of the Red Ribbon Army. We can probably agree not to bring in junk from GT though, right? Vegeta’s pornstache is better left unseen.
TRAVIS MOODY: Good list, but what about my Hot Topic DLC Dream Team of Grimmjow (Bleach), Naruto, Saitama (One-Punch Man), Ryo Asuka (Devilman Crybaby), Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tale), Inuyashiki, Monkey D. Luffy (One-Piece), Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan)? Never gonna happen — of course. But, if we had a Marvel vs. Capcom, a Street Fighter x Tekken, and a Mortal Kombat vs. The DCU, then why not? We’re starting to see a lot more crossover characters coming outta nowhere too (Hellboy, TMNT, Predator, Jason, etc.). Just something for our little weeby minds ponder.
(Cont…) As for the game itself, Dragon Ball FighterZ truly does have a lot for everyone: if you have online-play-phobia and don’t wanna be lynched by a bunch of 12-hrs-a-day-playin’ fuckbois who have no other hobbies but to “get gud”, you’re good. The single player campaign is almost too long; I’m 26+ hours into the original story at only 62% completion. Of the 3 made-for-game story sections offered, I’ve completed only Super Warrior and Enemy Warrior and even received a “rare achievement” for it! My biggest complaint about Story are the seemingly endless amount of tutorial “battles” in the opening act. While I’m thankful AF for its density, there’s no need for these tutorials–where opponents literally do nothing but stand/move like zombies–on the final map of the opening act. In fact, the CPU doesn’t really give much of a challenge until deep in the second act, post level-30. Still, boss battles can be a bitch (Android 21 is a kick-ass new addition to the franchise!) and cutscenes (many to which are optional) pack all the brilliant voice acting and zany humor we love about the anime, even breaking the 4th wall. 4.5/5 Cell Shaded Bibles.
CHRIS SAWIN: This is the most fun I’ve ever had with a Dragon Ball game. I tried Xenoverse and hated it and mostly stayed away from previous games due to poor reputations. DBFZ is a fighting game that’s entertaining for both fans and newcomers. It’s easily accessible yet has little throwbacks and homage to previous events (as Moody mentioned with “Dramatic Finishes”) that occurred in the universe Akira Toriyama has created and is visually stunning. Your wish has been granted; Dragon Ball Fighter Z is the incredible Dragon Ball game you’ve always wanted. 5/5 Candy Coated Buu Balls.