Kaaa-meee Haaa-meee… Haaaaaaaaaa! For a Dragon Ball fan, the iconic martial arts sleeve written and drawn by Akira Toriyama, it is inevitable not to get excited about launching Dragon Ball FighterZ, the video game that promises to make us feel like Goku, that we can throw energy balls, become a super warrior and defeat the evil Freezer again. As of today, it’s available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC; and while no one doubts that it’s the most spectacular title ever seen on this license, is it really the ultimate Dragon Ball game?
Video games based on this franchise have been around for over thirty years and, if not, ask designer David Jaumandreu, who recently published the first part of his exhaustive review of all the games in the saga. Indeed, those who wanted to emulate the fierce fights of the manga in its interactive aspect have had plenty of opportunities to do so, but until today none of them have managed to express it in this way. It has been said to be active and passive, but it is not superfluous to remember: Dragon Ball FighterZ is a dream come true for those who grew up following the adventures of this group of friends and their tireless search for dragon balls.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a 2.5D wrestling game, or what is the same, the characters and stages are molded in three dimensions, but the action takes place on a 2D plane. For a few years now, most of the titles based on the series have used 3D to emulate the spectacularity of their combats, but this time the Japanese Arc System Works have decided to bet on this more traditional perspective, a style in which they are specialists, as evidenced by their excellent work in the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series. Another characteristic is that the fights take place between teams of three characters that can be relieved at any moment of the encounter, something that multiplies the strategic facet of the simple act of choosing a character.
The total number of characters available is as high as 24 contenders, among which there are essential characters such as Gohan, Vegeta, Trunks or Piccolo, but also includes some less common characters such as the always forgotten Yamcha, the warrior of the Nappa space or some incorporations from the anime Dragon Ball Super, such as Beerus, Hit or Zamasu, the tenebrous reverse of Goku. Already before Bandai Namco went on sale, it announced the launch of a downloadable paid content pack that will add 8 additional characters, a decision that has not been a good fit among part of the community, especially for announcing months to the launch, but that is not far from being a common practice in this genre for a good handful of years.
Dragon Ball FighterZ fights are pure spectacle. It’s amazing how it manages to translate the brutal confrontations into the mechanics of a fighting game, as is Arc System Works’ decision to make a game accessible, one in which all users, whatever their experience with this genre, can feel powerful. Fortunately, the fact that it’s spectacle-oriented and doesn’t require complicated button combinations to perform the most spectacular attacks is not something that’s at odds with depth. Those users who decide to enter in depth will discover a system of combat considerably deep and interesting, which does not lack infinite combos and the possibility of developing a style of combat.
Bandai Namco knows that he has something big on his hands and does not want to miss the opportunity to reach a large audience. It’s still too early to tell if Dragon Ball FighterZ will make it as eSport in the competitive scene of fighting games, however, there’s no doubt that it has already made it to the hearts of fans. One of the most impressive features of the title is the way it reproduces mythical scenes from the manga in full detail. Thus, if a series of circumstances occur during the game, a sequence reminiscent of key moments in the animated series may appear. Too bad, though, that in the music section has not included the original soundtrack of anime. Those who want it will be able to purchase it separately as paid content, a decision that is a little ugly for fans.
Although online and local fighting is the main attraction of Dragon Ball FighterZ, another of the most anticipated modalities is the campaign for one player. Along three storylines, this mode puts us in the shoes of Goku and his friends to live an adventure similar to the one we could see in one of the chapters of the series. The premise is that a series of evil clones have emerged from these characters, and in turn have resuscitated all the villains. This is an interesting way if you want to explore it as a tutorial, but its slow pace and the endless dialogues between combat and combat make it not as memorable as one would expect. Beyond history, other modes stand out such as Arcade, with enemies of increasing difficulty, or the Classic Tournament.
Now, the real litmus test of Dragon Ball FighterZ, the operation of its online modes, will take place today, the day of the world launch. From now on, the servers of the game will be up and running, and that’s when we can really see if Bandai Namco has done his homework in preparing for the premiere of this long-awaited title. We crossed our fingers to make it so because this FighterZ has all the ballot papers to become, now yes, the ultimate Dragon Ball game.