So Dragon Ball: Xenoverse is slated to come out soon. It’s an incredibly pretty Dragon Ball Z game that plays pretty much how you would expect. The mechanics are very simple and linear, usually surrounding button mashing more than anything else. You’ll fly around a lot, instant dodge, fire huge beams at your opponents, lather rinse repeat. You’ll never see this fighter at a professional fighting game tournament, however you will see just about every Dragon Ball Z fan play it at least once. The fact that you get to create your own fantasy fan fiction DBZ characters is just the icing on the cake for a fanbase that is well versed in fan fiction and poorly synched Linkin Park anime music videos.
Meanwhile, a group of fans are creating a brand new DBZ game of their own. The game is called Hyper Dragon Ball Z , and is a traditional 2D fighter. It has canceling mechanics, juggle combos, frame traps, and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff. It’s basically a sort of “what would happen if Capcom and Bandai Namco got together to make a DBZ game” sort of dream game, and it’s awesome! It’s making a huge splash in the fighting game community right now, with its character specific openings, fluid animations, and incredible move sets based completely on attacks that characters have used over the course of the manga and anime. Kotaku has called it “the game we deserve.”
While this is making fighting game fans go crazy now, this actually isn’t all that strange. Back in the days of the SNES, all DBZ fighting games games were 2D because technology was limited. They played a lot like slight variations on Street Fighter II , as most games did back in the day.
But the desire for a 2D tournament ready DBZ game hasn’t waned in the community. Just look at the M.U.G.E.N. community. Nearly every M.U.G.E.N. game out there has a huge roster of Dragon Ball Z characters in it. In fact, Hyper Dragon Ball Z is a game made on M.U.G.E.N. although there is a lot more thought put into the mechanics than there was in most other random slap dash fan M.U.G.E.N. creations.
In the SNES days, there was another type of game as well, the cinematic fighter. Fans of Yu Yu Hakusho might remember these styles of fighters, fighter that were really little more than a slightly more complicated Rock, Paper, Scissors game but had beautiful cutscenes for every attack.
I submit that current day Dragon Ball Z games are essentially evolutions on these cinematic fighters. They prioritize spectacle over mechanics, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
However, in the SNES days, both cinematic fighters and tournament fighters existed for any given anime license. Now, that just doesn’t seem to be the case. DBZ , Naruto , and Bleach games exist solely and wholly for the casual gamer, and that doesn’t sit well with the professional gaming community. I say that we need to split these franchises apart. It’s not like Bandai Namco doesn’t have brilliant fighting game developers in their employ. They are the guys behind Tekken and Soul Calibur after all. Let’s just let them have a crack at the DBZ license, shall we?