Goku & Co. Back for
July 20, 2009 – The Dragon Ball franchise may have started off as an anime and manga, but with the story’s conclusion nearly fifteen years behind us, the saga of the Saiyan race has found new life in the world of videogames. Last year’s Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit was the series’ first foray into the current console generation, and cemented the franchise’s viability in the current gaming atmosphere.
Although developer DIMPS did a great job with that tile, it didn’t really build upon the already-established Budokai Tenkaichi franchise, which really served as the jumping-off point for the franchise last generation. However, Budokai Tenkaichi developer Spike is back for another DBZ title, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, which is being billed as a “spiritual successor” to the Budokai Tenkaichi games of the past.
We recently got some time to try Raging Blast hands-on, and for the most part, we were impressed. We were able to play as the series’ main character, Goku, and once the match loaded up we were immediately stuck by the size of the battlefield. One of Dragon Ball: Raging Blast’s most touted new features is the environments, which are working to recreate the epic scope of the battles in the anime. The level looked like a giant canyon, and we were able to take to the skies and fly around the different crevices and land on plateaus scattered around the stage.
However, even though the size of the battlefield was very impressive, we did run in to trouble when our A.I. opponent started following us as we jetted around the level. As we flew close to canyon cliffs, the A.I. would frequently get hung up, and it was stopped altogether when attempting to get too close to some of the protruding rocks scattered around the level.
But for all the problems that the A.I. was having with the expanded levels, it was fairly simple for us to skate around the wide-open battleground. You can move your character up and down along the Y axis with the two trigger buttons and then can navigate the X axis space with the thumbstick. This all feels very natural, and it lends a strategic element to the gameplay, as there are plenty of corners where you can hide to surprise opponents.
In addition to the strategic advantages that the expanded environment gives you, it can also inflict damage. By firing off a few Ki shots into one of the canyon walls, I was able to cause some of the pieces to fall off and damage my opponent. You can also knock enemies into destructible elements and cause even more damage.
As for the combat, the game felt very true to the Budokai Tenkaichi series, and it was very easy to jump right in and play if you are familiar with the battle system. Although I didn’t really get too much time to explore the depth of the combat, it’s a fairly solid assumption that Raging Blast will not stray too far from the beaten path in this aspect.
The visuals for the demo that we saw looked fairly solid, and the cel-shaded character models were bright and detailed. However, the environments didn’t look all that great. Even though they were much larger in scope than in previous Dragon Ball games, the demo we played didn’t feature very much detail, and the battleground arena looked like an old level that has been stretched out, with a few familiar elements pasted in. However, since all we played was a demo, hopefully the look of the game’s environment will be cleaned up prior to release.
Dragon Ball: Raging Blast looks like it will continue the Dragon Ball series’ penchant for quality in fighters. However, I did get an overwhelming sense of “been there, done that” when playing through the demo. There is much we don’t know about the storyline or different modes, so hopefully we will be able to learn more about this title prior to its release this fall. For now, I remain cautiously optimistic.