|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: October 25, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Dragon Ball Z is one of those series that you just can't keep down. Sure, it could have easily died after the PlayStation 2 era, but it found new life in Burst Limit. Then, after a few more releases, it could have faded into obscurity yet again. But it seems you just can't keep a good Saiyan down, as Dragon Ball Z is back for its 29th video game outing. It's hard to believe that an anime series from the nineties could have pumped out so many games, but here we are. So what can we expect from this latest DBZ game?
Developers Spike are promising that this DBZ game will be unlike anything else you've ever played from the series. The last several entries in the Dragon Ball franchise have focused on building the world of Dragon Ball Z and haven't really focused on the deep combat that the Tenkaichi series originally became famous for. Though this attempt made sense initially, recent games from the Dragon Ball universe have lacked depth. However, Ultimate Tenkaichi will rectify this issue with a new control scheme that will focus on short and long range combat. The game will bring back the quick-time event-based combos and destructible environments, but a whole new "Impact Break" system will heighten the action and create dynamic events in-match that will ensure that the gameplay always feels unique.
In addition to the new combat system, Ultimate Tenkaichi will feature the most expansive story mode yet, incorporating elements from every DBZ saga as well as the movies based on the anime. Familiar stages, like Planet Namek and the Supreme Kai's world, will be included in the story, as will new areas like Hell. Confirmed bosses include Great Ape Vegeta and Janemba's first form.
There will also be some Dragon Ball GT content at the end of the Ultimate Tenkaichi, but it's currently unknown whether this will actually be part of the story or just a little bit of bonus content post-credits. The GT series has always divided fans, so it might be a little bit risky to incorporate it too much into the over-arching game quest. On the other hand, it would certainly make the experience feel a little fresher since the events of the "Z" saga are already so well-known.
However, if new story content isn't enough to get you interested in a DBZ fighter again, there is yet another brand-new feature that has never been seen before in a DBZ game. Ultimate Tenkaichi will be the first Dragon Ball game ever to have a full character creation and customization mode. You will be able to create a character the looks like it belongs in the Dragon Ball Z universe and will carry over to regular matches. In addition to customizing their physical features, you can also set a fighting style and assign special moves. This feature may seem a little weird to longtime fans, but as the Dragon Ball Z series moves from being an anime series to a fighting game franchise—I'd wager the games are more prominent than the show on which they were based at this point—Dragon Ball Z needs to find a way to reinvent itself. The character creation system should do just that.
As a longtime Dragon Ball Z fan, it can be difficult to get excited about yet another fighter. I'll be the first to admit that what we've seen this console generation from the franchise has been lackluster at best (with the notable exception of Burst Limit). However, it looks like the franchise is finally ready to shed at least some of its identity as an anime tie-in fighter, and stand on its own as just a fighting franchise. The renewed commitment to improving the battle system, the character creation system, and the incorporation of the full DBZ saga into the story should make this a game that makes Dragon Ball Z a franchise worth taking seriously again.
Will we ever really talk about it again as an anime? Probably not. But that's a good thing. If Dragon Ball Z is truly reinventing itself as a serious fighting franchise rather than just a tie-in, this could be yet another glorious rebirth for a series that has been around for more than 20 years.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer