The Namco Bandai Dragon Ball franchise is a force to be reckoned with. The popular series has demonstrated an uncanny ability to make money. Even when they make a game which receives mixed reviews, the international following carries them all the way to the bank. Despite charges of technological flaws by the elitist techo-savants, Dragonball Z games provide the fun factor for devoted fans which trumps the inadequacies. The newest offering, Battle of Z, which came out at the end of January, is another along those lines.
Made similar to the Japanese arcade game ” Zenkai Battle Royale,” it is very different from any of the current console Dragonball games currently out on the market. Putting the player into 4 on 4 battles, it is made to be played with a group of collaborators to team up against epic villains, or to fight each other in intense fights. This, however, takes some co-ordination, and players will find themselves most often playing with the computer teammates that have less intelligent thought than Kid Buu (gratuitous Otaku reference for which apology will not be made). When playing with a computer team, sharing one set of lives can be rather frustrating. Having to stop beating down Freiza to go save pathetic Krillin for the tenth time in a row, while no one saves the player character who is the only one actually making a difference in battle, takes some patience and proficiency.
The technology’s “artificial un-intelligence” is not enough of a flaw to trump the fun factor once engaged in the Battle of Z campaign. Compared to the previous Dragonball game, Raging Blast 2, this offering presents tiered challenges which draw the player in and keep them engaged, not wanting to put it down without facing “just one more challenge.” The game play is fairly simple, but enjoyable. The utter chaos caused by 4 players, and the combos, ending with flying across the map and back to continue battling, replicates the fights from the show better than any game in the series to date.
The ability to captivate does not make this an exceptionally well-made game. There are many things in the game that could have more closely followed previous games to improve it. If the creators would have included move customization, the characters with undesirable move-sets could have been made playable. Likewise, changes to the computer-controlled players could have removed the frustration of sharing lives with less than collaborative characters. This offering even removed basic gameplay principles from all the other games, such as transforming in battle and charging your Ki. All of these things were in other games but oddly absent from this entry.
This is not a game made for casual fans, confirmed by the characters from a movie which doesn’t even have an English release confirmation. Those who have a passing familiarity with the show will likely not be able to appreciate the game in the same way a diehard would, but those who truly love and follow it will be drawn in past the missing details. It is an enjoyable game for those in the target audience, but technological issues stop it from being the universal success that it could have been. The construction and polishing on what a player can do is mediocre, and in that sense has proven a bit of a disappointment for fans anticipating the game’s release. Despite technical flaws and inefficiency, however,Battle of Z still fulfills the purpose of a Dragonball video game; to come with the fun factor.
Commentary By Reuben Malone