|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Dimps||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 10, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jwan Jordan
January 29, 2008 - Well, despite some legal issues, Dragon Ball Z looks like it's preparing to make the leap into the next generation of gaming, and I have to say it is looking very good. Atari apparently had some licensing right issues with FUNimation about creating more Dragon Ball games. Regardless, Atari has opted to not only go ahead with creating the game, but launched a trailer to tease fans as to what's coming this year. Other than the teaser trailer, Atari has not gone into any specifics about the game other than it will have "radical 3D fighting effects" and online play will be possible.
I'll humor you as if you don't know what Dragon Ball Z is and enlighten as to why it has such a strong fan base. Dragon Ball Z is a popular Manga and hit anime series created by Akira Toriyama. It initially begins as a series merely called Dragon Ball about a monkey tailed kid, named Goku, who is sent to earth to destroy it. A series of events eventually causes Goku to adopt the customs of earth and inevitably become the planet's strongest and most beloved hero. The series plays out in a semi-realistic chronological order, meaning Dragon Ball starts off as a very young, naïve Goku, and eventually the series transitions into Dragon Ball Z where he is older, more powerful, has a wife and kid, and well, isn't really that much smarter, yet still possesses his heart of gold. Some argue whether or not the later series, Dragon Ball GT, should be considered a legitimate continuation of the popular series due to its horrible ratings amongst fans. Dragon Ball GT is the final continuation of Dragon Ball, with a story that turns Goku back into his youthful Dragon Ball iteration and leads him on a journey to once again find the legendary dragon balls to save the universe. During Dragon Ball's time frame, it attracted millions of both Asian and American fans who are still to this day very loyal to the series. Dragon Ball has also attached a large assortment of video games spanning many consoles over the years, and they keep coming for better or worse.
So far all we have to go by is the Japanese teaser trailer just released to the public. It showcases a few characters that I think it's safe to assume will be playable in the game. Some of the random clips show, Goku, of course, and others such as Cell, Vegeta, Frieza, and the Ginyu Force. Nothing was shown past the Cell Saga, and the rumor is that it won't go past that, though it does seem like a bad choice not to include the entire Dragon Ball series in its entirety by this point. Regardless, the trailer did not show a trace of the Buu saga or GT, so the rumors may be true. I honestly believe that stopping at the Cell saga is a bad choice, merely because the fan base is so huge and there are so many characters that fans want to see and are accustomed to playing as on the other Dragon Ball titles, especially if it's going to have online possibilities.
Despite my concerns, it is very comforting to see the new generation graphics at work on a Dragon Ball title. My first impression was how similar the graphics look to the Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, which possessed a 3D polygon sort of look. What is unique about the look is the next gen ability to use enhancing lighting and shadow effects on the characters; which gives them a lot more of a polished look and natural feel to them. In a clip, we see Goku charging his ki energy, and thanks to next-gen processing, his hair moves naturally as the ki energy rises above him. As usual in the series, rocks, pebbles, and dust rise from the ground demonstrating his rising power level. Also, his clothes actually gave off more of a natural cloth movement as his energy runs rampant, with his clothes and sash flapping naturally with the wind.
Gameplay is, of course, one on one fighting and looks very similar to the Budokai series, which means it's more of a one dimensional plane and involves moving from the left to right side of the screen. I honestly wonder if this may be a step backwards, but I hope there is a method to their perceived madness. Nonetheless the fighting looks fast paced and hectic, which is a good thing. It appears they may have truly captured the blinding speed of the Dragon Ball series. From the trailer, you can clearly see constant teleporting back and forth between enemies, and true the series, a well launched punch literally goes through your foes in a very agonizing way.
One thing that concerns me is the use of Goku's and others' special abilities and how will it play into the game. The original Budokai title made it impossible to perform special attacks making even fans of Street Fighter feel flustered. I hope they will not make that mistake with Burst Limit and make special attacks too difficult to perform. Everyone knows that Kamehamaha waves, instance transmissions, and special beam cannons are what make Dragon Ball Z so fantastic in the first place. One of the announcements made at a public release was in regards to the special effects, and yes, they look beautiful. Thanks to the new generation, the Kamaehamaha wave has never looked better. Even more so when energy collides; the collision of power looks and feels unbelievable.
So far the text and voices are only in Japanese, but it's safe to assume that the cast will redeem their eternal roles as Dragon Ball Z voice over counterparts. The sound effects seem to all be in their respectable places also. From the instant transmissions, to heavy blows to the rib, and dashes to and fro, the soundtrack doesn't skip a beat and really has the authentic l of a very well done Dragon Ball Z game.
The game looks like it is doing really well. I'm honestly really pumped about it. Though it is unfortunate it only goes to the Cell saga, I'm really accustomed to the Super Sayian 3 Goku by now. It has been proven that DBZ games can be great to watch and just as fun to play. Here's hoping for another enhanced Dragon Ball game!
CCC Freelance Writer