Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Review for Xbox 360

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Review for Xbox 360

Too Much Filler

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.

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.

The biggest problem with Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is that it’s just not fun. It’s an accurate simulation of DBZ with rapid punches and long charging special attacks, but this actually isn’t as fun to play as it is to watch. Your arms and legs get incredibly tired as you flail over and over again, and once you defeat an opponent, you’ll be brought to the next battle to do the exact same thing. Every character controls in the exact same way, and every battle is an almost carbon copy of the last. Flail at the screen, dodge an attack or two, flail at the screen, quick-time event. That’s all you’ll ever be doing for the entire game.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Screenshot

There is a serious lack of replay value here. There is no online or local multiplayer, no leaderboards, no time trials, nothing other than the story mode and a single-player mode where you can set up dream matches between whatever characters you like.

As I said before, every fight is almost identical to the last. The only way characters differ is in their special moves, which you won’t be using that often. Not only that, but you unlock characters by scanning QR codes. What the heck is the point of this? It’s frustrating enough to have to unlock characters by doing things in game. Now you have to scan codes outside the game to complete your roster? Why is this fun?

Dragon Ball Z for the Kinect is just a mess. It has the novelty of DBZ fighting with motion controls. It has spectacular graphics that look like a moving anime. It even has cutscenes that stay true to the anime itself. What it doesn’t have is a competent gameplay system. It’s just another flail-fest that makes you tired and sweaty and sore, and your only reward is getting to watch the game’s next cutscene. If you really wanted to watch the entire DBZ plot again, you could just pop in your old VHS tapes or hop on the Internet to watch Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Both options are far less repetitive than Dragon Ball Z for Kinect.

The graphics are probably the best part of DBZ for Kinect. The cel shading makes it look just like a moving anime. 2.0 Control
Punch until you punch some more; that’s all you’ll do. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is competent enough, but the dialogue is corny, and they couldn’t get the entire original voice cast. 2.1 Play Value
It’s just another flail-fest that gets old very quickly. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Immersive Dragon Ball Z Gameplay – Get closer to authentic Dragon Ball Z battles, famous combos, and super attacks, such as Kamehameha, with the Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor!
  • Perform 100+ different DBZ moves, including long-range blast attacks (Kamehameha, Spirit Bomb, Final Flash, Special Beam Cannon) and close-range melee attacks (Jab, Uppercut, Hook, Charge Ki, Guard, Kick.)
  • Authentic story and visuals – Faithfully rendered Dragon Ball Z universe and storylines from DBZ series created by Akira Toriyama.
  • Experience the DBZ world in first-person view for the first time!

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