Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Review
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Box Art
System: Xbox 360
Dev: NAMCO Bandai
Pub: NAMCO Bandai
Release: October 9, 2012
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood, Cartoon Violence, Mild Language
Too Much Filler
by Angelo M. D’Argenio

Ever since the Wii gave us our first taste of motion controls, Dragon Ball Z fans have imagined throwing their very own Kamehameha. Lots of motion-control attempts have been made, but none have really worked. The Budokai Tenkaichi games on the Wii had iffy motion control at best, and we found ourselves struggling to fight against poor coding and inaccurate sensors rather than Saiyan menaces from another planet. But the dream of motion-controlled Super Saiyan madness never died, even as we received DBZ title after DBZ title that tried to recreate the wonder that the original series instilled in us as kids. This brings us to Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, an attempt to fuse DBZ hype with full-body motion control. It makes a good attempt, but sadly, like Mr. Satan, it's far more flash and showmanship than competency and substance.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect doesn't really have a story mode to speak of. Instead, the game takes you on a trip down memory lane through all of the series' major battles. It's kind of like an interactive clip show; every battle starts with a cutscene that briefly sets the stage before it thrusts you into the game in order to recreate the events of the anime. It's blatantly marketed to fans of the anime, as very little context is given for each fight. The game just assumes you know why these characters are fighting because you've seen this all before, which, to be fair, is a pretty safe assumption. That being said, the game stays very true to the anime, with scenes and dialogue playing out exactly how you remember. Yes, the game even lets you re-live the classic "It's Over 9000!" moment.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Screenshot

Each fight puts you in the shoes of a main character facing off against one of the franchise's iconic villains. When a fight starts, your character will be controlled in first-person mode. The game asks you to punch and kick at your opponents while dodging their attacks by bobbing and weaving in front of the TV and blocking by putting your arms in front of your face. On paper this sounds great. In practice, it's a flail-fest.

Enemy attacks, even at the later levels of the game, are slow and sluggish and give you ample time to react. They are incredibly easy to dodge and block, but, more importantly, they are also easy to simply ignore. Your goal is to fill a power meter at the bottom of the screen that increases every time you land a punch or kick. While you are punching or kicking your opponent, they barely even move. So as long as you flail fast enough, you'll fill the power meter before your opponent takes any action.

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When you successfully fill your power meter, you will be treated to a short cutscene of your character beating the crap out of his opponent before the game asks you to punch and kick some more to fill another power bar and make the cutscene proceed forward. Sometimes you will be asked to shower your opponent with a volley of ki blasts, which is done by thrusting your hands toward the screen repeatedly, much as if you were punching. Actually, you don't really even need to punch. You can just flail your hands like a madman and the game will think you are attacking your opponent.

Instead of punching and kicking by flailing your arms and legs wildly at the TV screen, you can attempt to pull off a special move like the Kamehameha. To do so, you have to put your body into a specific stance shown on the screen. You then go through the motions of the special attack by proceeding from stance to stance until eventually you are firing a gigantic beam from your hands.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Screenshot

Unfortunately, special attacks are almost strictly worse than punching and kicking. The Kinect has a serious problem detecting when you are initiating a special move, and even when you do, it takes forever to charge. Granted, special moves do an absurd amount of damage, absolutely decimating your opponents if you manage to pull them off. In a way, it's very true to the TV show. They take forever to charge, are used sparingly, and when they are used the battle is pretty much over. Unfortunately, this doesn't translate over very well into a video game mechanic.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Screenshot

Each time you repeat this cycle of punch so you can punch some more, the game treats you to a small cutscene, generally involving the two characters taunting each other in some way. Continue to do this until your opponent's HP reaches critical status and you'll transition into a quick time event that replays one of the iconic scenes of the anime. During these events, prompts will show up on screen asking you to put your body into different positions. Unfortunately, the Kinect has a hard time recognizing these positions, just as it has a hard time recognizing the positions for special attacks. As a result, you'll find yourself failing these QTE's several times even if you swear you are doing them right. If you actually manage to succeed at a QTE, you'll either win the battle or take off a huge chunk of your opponent's life.


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