Super DragonBall Z Review

In the year 1984, a comic book phenomenon took hold of Japan, which later arrived upon US shores sixteen years later. The comic was DragonBall and the franchise has proven to be a marketing juggernaut, with items such as trading cards, action figures, cartoon shows and of course, video games. It is here where we step in to offer our opinion in the latest DragonBall offering from Atari-Super DragonBall Z.

SDBZ can be considered a "button masher" fighting game. Any serious gamer who loves fighting games will attest to the fact that memorizing and training in the nuances of proper button presses is the key to winning. However, give any inexperienced fighter the controller, 30 seconds of instruction, and a few tips on what to do, and you have a person with little knowledge of the fighting moves but with a better than even chance of beating any given character in the game. Why? Because random button presses by the novice can sometimes outwit a seasoned veteran or game AI–not necessarily on a consistent basis, but the possibility is there.

The game is pretty straightforward. There are three basic fighting modes: Original, Z Survivor, and Versus, with an additional Training mode that lets you practice to your heart,s content in order to perfect your button combinations. In Original mode, you have the opportunity to go head-to-head with the various characters in the DragonBall Z franchise such as Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Frieza, Android 16-18, Chi Chi, Cell, Majin Buu, and others. For laughs, Majin Buu was my favorite. There,s nothing more devastating than a belly bump attack.

The Original mode is your basic arena for character development. SDBZ allows you to build up your character by gaining experience points after each battle. As you win battles, your experience points increase, as do your skills. But in order to do this, you must create something called a character card. In essence, this is a save file of a particular character that you wish to be. The character card allows all data that is pertinent to be filed and stored. It keeps track of your points, the number of Dragon Balls you have accumulated and other data. You have the option of making several of these cards and selecting from any of the playable characters in the game. As you progress in the game, unlockable characters are made available such as CyborgFrieza.

Z Survivor mode is a fighting gauntlet in which you challenge a series of combatants. Lose a match and it,s Game Over. However, this mode rewards you after each win by not only adding to your attributes and experience points, but also lets you have a go at the Bonus Roulette Wheel. The wheel has various upgrades that will make you stronger, increase your defense, health and other attributes that make you better for battle. Best of all, it gives you the opportunity of snagging one of the elusive DragonBalls. If you are able to collect seven, a section of the game opens up called Dragon Summoning. As it is with the animated series and comic books, finding all seven DragonBalls gives you the opportunity to ask Shenron the dragon to grant a wish. The wishes can enhance your fighting skills or unlock special moves–it’s up to you. Each time seven balls are collected, the Dragon Summoning section of the game opens up, presenting you another chance to make a wish. Versus mode, quite simply, is the two-person version of the game.

Ok, so how does the game play? As with all button mashers, you can pick up the controller and just flail away with random presses and past experience. In the case of SDBZ, the square, circle, triangle and X buttons correspond to the stand-up arcade game. Square is the normal attack, triangle is the strong attack, circle is jump and X is guard. Anyone who has played the arcade version will feel right at home with the setup. As for all others, a few minutes of familiarizing oneself with some initial attack moves will have you nicely on your way to battle.

But if you really expect to succeed in this game, a good amount of time will be spent in the Training mode. Here, you will be able to view the list of commands for each particular character and hone your skills in Ki attacks. It isn,t rocket science, but it does take an adept hand and matching mind to commit the moves to memory. If all else fails, you can always write down the moves from the list. The move patterns are similar enough to be used with other characters, but not so numerous as to be overwhelming. Master one character, and you,ll most likely be able to transfer your knowledge onto another character.

Fighting moves are a combination of right controller buttons and the d-pad, with the option of using the left joystick in lieu of the directional pad. Personally, I felt more comfortable with the d-pad, as the tactile feel of the buttons gave me a better idea of movement placement. The action is fast and furious as you attempt to fight and win each battle. All the characters in the game have their own specific fighting styles and powers. Taking note of how each opponent fights is a good way to understand how this game works. Not all your fighting moves will work equally well with all characters. So if you are locked into only a handful of techniques, you may have difficulty in completing the entire Original mode. But that being said, if you have good technique and quick reflexes, you should be able to make it all the way to the last battle against Cell in under 30 minutes. If you rely on a bevy of powerful (but repetitive) moves, it will take you considerably less time. In the Original mode, I was able to throw high leg kicks with a smattering of punches to defeat all the enemies until the Cell level. However, with a little practice in dodging his attacks and special movies, Cell proved to be rather easy to defeat, as well.

The fights are not held in your Street Fighter 2D fighting arenas-far from it. The game allows you to move in a 3D world that gives you the ability to dodge and move from side-to-side as well as move into the air for battle. The air battles were a little annoying because the enemy would jump into the air and proceed to rain down Ki attacks (energy balls) upon my head. However, after a little experimentation, these attacks could usually be avoided by steping directly under my opponent. The AI continues to try to direct attacks against you, but fails to realize that you are directly underneath. Wait out the storm, and when the enemy lands on terra firma again, you,ll be able to unleash your volley of attacks on the bugger.

The graphics are candy bright and sharp as a tack. Everything is rendered in cell-shaded form but with a three-dimensional twist. Although the environment and characters look 2D, the camera pans around them to reveal a very 3D locale. The trees, buildings, rocks and landscape all follow this rule, and it is quite pleasing to the eye.

Frame rates look to be in the 60 fps category and action is smooth. The visual effects and mini-cut scenes during battle are very well done. You,ll get a lot of satisfaction in unleashing a well-timed combo and energy attack on your hapless foes. As you fight, various objects can be broken or annihilated with your blows. Walls that you once used in order to hide from attacks are broken down by heavy kicks and special moves. So understanding the way the terrain works is a plus in trying to defeat your enemies. Trees and walls are not merely there for art decoration, they can be used to help you defeat and defend against your enemy.

The voice acting is par for the course and match the DragonBall Z mood. Sound effects are also average, but the background music is surprisingly catchy.

As for the overall feeling of this game, it is fun if you can overlook faults like a weak singleplayer AI and the relatively simple game modes. Super DragonBall Z makes the most out of a sometimes overworked genre and will provide some hours of good old-fashioned fighting action. But when the single player mode is spent, the versus mode is most likely where SDBZ will get its second wind as you battle it out against real life opponents. The game isn,t as deep as other fighting games, but it still holds its own as an entertaining title. If you are a serious fighter fan, you may lose interest rather quickly as the game may not offer anything outside what you have experienced before. But if you are a casual player who would like an entertaining fighting game, go for it.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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