Not Exactly a “Hot” Tag
Dragon Ball Z has been over for more than a decade. However, all these years later, the franchise is still churning out games at an alarming rate (at least two a year). When the series first ended, I loved playing “Z” games, as it helped me cope with the end of a series I had loved so well. However, the formula started to wear as time went on, and I lost interest in the DBZ-verse.
But then the next-generation of game consoles came along, and the stellar DBZ Burst Limit game was released. I was hooked again. However, as the current generation wears on, I find myself again apathetic towards the DBZ game franchise. Unfortunately, Tenkaichi Tag Team doesn’t further my interest in the series. Although the game is technically proficient, tired mechanics, the same old story, and no outstanding features make this a title unlikely to get anyone all that excited about returning to the Z-verse.
Like most other DBZ games, Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team tells the story of Goku, who went on to become Earth’s favorite Saiyan hero. It begins with the Saiyan Arc and moves quickly into the meatier story arcs. The game’s progression system features a giant Goku who moves around a giant world map “bumping” into friends and enemies who share dialogue. The progression system is unfortunately dull, but at least it gets the same old story elements out of the way with some amazing speed, which is a good thing considering Dragon Ball Z titles are almost solely geared towards those who already have an appreciation towards the series.
However, after a few non-so-random encounters with classic Z foes, it’s hard not to wonder what the point is. Still, there are some elements here that are new, although they feel a bit finite to the experienced DBZ fan. The selling point, of course, is the tag-team battle system, which allows you to team up with a CPU partner during story fights. The tag team system works well enough, and the AI is surprisingly good at adapting to your fighting strategy. No matter whether I was waling on one specific enemy or trying to divide and conquer, the AI adapted to my strategy pretty nicely and was always there in a pinch.
Of course, the tag team element would be best put to use in a multiplayer setting, and to some degree, it is. And by that I mean there is an ad-hoc multiplayer mode where you and a friend can take on two other teamed-up friends. However, the ad-hoc multiplayer component is not the most convenient multiplayer option, and I was sad to see that there were no online multiplayer options, as that would have given Tenkaichi Tag Team some serious replay value.
Despite this lack of replay value, Tenkaichi Tag Team does have some elements that will pull fans into its grip. Chief among these is the huge player roster, which has more than seventy characters. Though there are no new characters (I’m pretty sure everyone has been used before, with the notable exception of Master Roshi’s turtle), the list includes all your favorites as well as plenty of supporting characters. Unlocking characters will take some perseverance, as the game’s story mode is a little bit on the lengthy side, and you’ll have to beat some mini-game like extra battle modes in order to get all the characters. Once you do get all the characters, it is fun to make some unlikely pairs (my favorite was Raditz and Chaiotzu) and try them out in battle.
And speaking of battle, the battle system does seem worth mentioning, although it is nearly identical to the battle system found in other Tenkaichi titles. You use a single button to hammer on your basic attacks (which can be modified with the directional buttons), you have another button to use your super-attacks, and then another for your ranged attack. The game also includes a “follow” command, which allows you to keep pace with a fast enemy over long stages. The battle system is simple and will feel instantly familiar to fans of the Tenkaichi series, which is good if you want to skip the training mode but a little depressing if you were hoping for something a little bit newer from this title.
Technically, this game is fairly proficient on the PSP. It’s not the best-looking game on the PSP, but the fighting environments and animations are well done and nicely detailed. However, the story-mode’s overworld does look dated; the environment is stoic, and the non-moving enemies look bland. Sound is also a mixed bag in Tenkaichi Tag Team, as the voiceover (which features performances from the anime’s original cast) sounds great, but the background music is bland and repetitious.
Your enjoyment of Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team will likely depend on two factors: how excited you are to play another Dragon Ball Z game and how high your tolerance for repetition is. The fact is that the Dragon Ball franchise (at least on the PSP) hasn’t changed much in the past five years, and with the notable exception of DBZ: Another Road, this game feels almost exactly like every other DBZ game for the system. Though the Tag Team mechanic is an interesting twist on the formula, at the end of the day it doesn’t have a meaningful impact on the gameplay, and it doesn’t make Tag Team Tenkaichi a stand-out Dragon Ball Z game. The series really needs some invigoration if it is going to continue in any meaningful capacity.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.6 Graphics
In-battle graphics look satisfactory on the PSP, but the overworld looks bland. 3.1 Control
Fighting controls are instantly familiar and work well despite offering little innovation. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The game’s dialogue is voiced by the anime’s original voice actors, which is a plus, but the music is mediocre at best. 3.3 Play Value
Though completing the 70+ character roster gives the game some replay value, there’s not much else to do once that is finished. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.