Almost every year sees a brand new videogame release in the Dragon Ball Z series. While typically focusing on the fighting aspect of both the manga and the show, the games often change after two or three sequels. However, after a disappointing release with Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi, it’s no surprise that the developer has attempted another relatively new approach. This time, the team fighting, arcade titles are seeing a console release on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: Fighting//3D Arena, Fantasy
Release Date: 24th January, 2014 (EU)
Platforms: PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita [reviewed], Xbox 360
Rating: 12+ (PEGI)
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z has diverted away from the typical one-on-one style of Dragon Ball Z. The style of the game has changed to a team fighting system; although the title still focuses on high-speed battles amongst teams of four characters, both on the ground and in the air.
All teammates share an energy meter called the Genki Gauge, located at the top of the screen. This meter increases when attacking specific opponents. Once the gauge is filled, the characters are able to perform an ultimate attack. In addition to this, if the characters have both enough ki energy and have filled the gauge halfway then the may launch a special attack much like those seen on the show, such as Final Flash or Victory Cannon. Any team member can decide to give or use the energy from the Genki Gauge to perform an attack. This title differs from the other Dragon Ball Z games as there is no button to power up the player’s ki bar. The ki bar only increases after hitting the opponent successfully with melee attacks, or if one of your teammates decides to share their ki energy with the player.
The title also offers a method of interacting with other members. By using the d-pad, players can tell their team mates to focus on defence, focus on your particular target, go all out, or leave the targeted enemy to the player. Of course, this is very useful in single player campaign as this enables the player to control the computer-controlled characters that aid them throughout the game.
At the end of the mission, the player will be ranked and receive points depending on how you performed. The points obtained will be transferred into Dragon Ball points which the player can use to buy items, enhanced cards, or skill cards. The items are like Senzu Beans–small beans that will fully heal a character if you lose all your health– or items like clothing which can increase your defence.
Each character has the ability to fire generic ki energy blasts, as well as perform their own unique skills that also consume ki energy. These skills vary, with the first being a chase attack, the second being an ability completely unique to that character (such as Goku’s Kaioken technique, which powers him up), and the last is often a powered projectile attack (such as Goku’s iconic Kamehameha wave).
There are three options in the game for the player to choose from: Single Player, Co-op Mode, and Battle Mode.
In single player, the player will be able to play through several different stages based upon the “sagas” of the Dragon Ball Z storyline, as well as “Another Age”, “Extra Age”, and “Special Age”. In Another Age, players will be able to participate in missions in which they will be tasked varying objectives, such as defeating one hundred Saibamen, or one hundred and fifty of Freiza’s soldiers. Meanwhile, Extra Age focuses on battles against movie villains, and Special Age offers the hardest missions in the title–focusing on themed teams such as families. The fifty-ninth mission even lets the player face off against Dragon Ball‘s latest villain: Beerus. The title’s campaign can be completed in between fifteen to twenty hours, and it’s extremely linear, but the scoring mechanic and customization offer rewarding replay value.
In Co-op Mode, the player has the same options as single player but may team up with their friends to clear missions together, and Battle Mode is where players may fight competitively against other players in team battles across the world.
The title has a strong focus on fighting as a team. If the player’s ally is knocked out, they should be prepared to revive them using the Revive Soul feature. If the player is unable to revive them in time, the character is revived and counts as a retry. There is a limited number of retries for each mission. Once they are expended, the mission fails.
The most frustrating part of the game is the weak artificial intelligence. If the opponent fires a power attack, the opponent will rarely attempt to dodge or block, and will sometimes just get hit and fall to the ground. Moreover, the computer controlled characters will sometimes just not revive allies, which forces the player to drop their current fight to go and revive the other team members, so be prepared for a lot of frustration.
Each character has a base power level. Some characters’ levels are higher than others. For example, Super Saiyan 3 Goku has a higher power level than that of Super Sayan Goku. The enhanced cards that players can purchase with the in-game currency enables them to enhance the characters power levels through the consumption of specialized cards that focus on the characters Energy, Speed, Health, Melee, Ki Blast and Special stats. Skill cards can give the player’s characters different skills, such as the ability to fire more ki blasts or reducing enemies’ energy when hitting them with melee attacks.
There are also Premium Points. These points allow the player to buy premium cards. PP points can be obtained through random events. At the end of the mission, the player is sometimes asked to donate energy. Once they have donated enough energy, they will receive some Premium Points. The coolest thing about the Premium Cards is that there are new special ones that appear in the shop each week, so if the player saves them up then they’ll be able to buy them!
The character selection in the game is somewhat disappointing. The recent Dragon Ball Z titles have had almost over one hundred and sixty characters–which is a bit ridiculous–but, at least they had transformations for characters like Piccolo. Piccolo only had one character with an extremely weak power base which is disappointing, as fans would know that he becomes much stronger after the Saiyan Saga. That being said, this title offers characters that feel and play more unique than the previous titles with larger rosters, as more time has clearly went into creating more dedicated characters.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z uses the same soundtrack as the previous Dragon Ball Z tiles. It’s fun listening to the familiar soundtrack. The only issue is that it was sometimes hard to hear the soundtrack over the audio of the characters. Unfortunately, the EU version of Battle of Z only allowed players to play with the English voices as there is no option to change to the Japanese voice work. The graphics of the game were very crisp and pleasing to play, with a lot of attention to small details.
Battle of Z is a great, team-based fighting game. Although it can be really tedious at times with the terribly programmed AI, it offers a really enjoyable and fun experience to enjoy with friends. Additionally, the title also has strong replay. It’s definitely one of the best Dragon Ball Z games to have been released recently, and this reviewer hopes that it will see a sequel with an even stronger character selection.