This game’s got ballz


Many anime fans of college age get a sentimental feeling when they reminisce over staying up late whenever possible to catch the Dragon Ball Z rerun or a new Dragon Ball Kai episode. After every episode you wait in anticipation to have an extremely uncivil discussion with your friend about why Goku shouldn’t have won, or about how bad of an idea it is to go up against Vegeta.

For many fans, the biggest focus of the Dragon Ball series was testing each character’s strength and skill while they develop throughout the show. This element makes the Dragon Ball universe fit naturally into a fighting game, giving fans the ability to watch their own skills grow as they experience suspenseful, exhilarating battles in the game.

Bandai Namco Entertainment was created in 2006 through a merger of Bandai Co. and Namco Limited, and has since developed and produced many fighter style games, many with anime origins. A few highlights are the Tekken series, featuring games across every PlayStation platform, a Naruto and One Piece series, and most importantly, the Dragon Ball Series, which contains their newest addition to the legendary
saga — Dragon Ball FighterZ.

There is much controversy over which Dragon Ball game is the best, Xenoverse 2 due to its refined mechanics and fighter list covering Dragon Ball Super, Budokai 3 because of its abundant customization options and lengthy story content, or even Ultimate Tenkaichi for its original storyline and stylistic elements.

The newest contender fighting to be one of Bandai Namco’s top fighting games, Dragon Ball FighterZ, puts forth a valiant effort, but fails to take the lead.

Dragon Ball FighterZ released on Jan. 26, 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game features classic 2.5D, fighter-style gameplay, meaning the game is graphicly 3D, but mechanically 2D. Unlike past games, such as Xenoverse 2, which featured a 3D battlefield and multidirectional movement, FighterZ reverts to the retro-simplicity of a 2D play area in a 3D environment.

Story Mode, Online Multiplayer and Arcade Mode give players a variety of ways to challenge other players, local or online, or practice on NPCs. Battles range from 1v1 to 3v3, allowing players to tag out between their three favorite characters while engaging an opponent’s team.

The story battles are laid out like a board game, where you advance a space each mission as you journey toward the next boss level. Between each battle sits long animated scenes, which force you to activate each line of dialogue with a press of the “X” or “A” button. After binging Story Mode for a few hours, it becomes a tedious task and chops up conversations to the point of losing focus on what they’re saying.

Aside from the conversation, cutscenes feature highly improved textures, shadows and stylistic elements from earlier additions in the franchise. The backdrops and attack special effects look beautiful, matching the artistic style of the anime.

A more surprising style choice is featured in FighterZ’s multiplayer lobby system. Players customize their own tiny avatars of their favorite characters and mingle in a lobby-style menu while waiting on a duel. Not only is this a cute, fun addition, which is much fitting in a Dragon Ball game, but it also breaks up loading screens and waiting on boring menu screens.

Bandai Namco ran into difficulties upon release of FighterZ when more than 44,000 Steam users flooded the multiplayer servers, leaving many players waiting excessive amounts of time to be paired up for a match and leaving online parties unable to connect with each other.

Fortunately, many of the issues were fixed in a short amount of time and server populations have decreased since release. With the opening day kinks out of the way, FighterZ can provide hours of mindless fun for experienced players and newcomers alike.

The controls, special moves, and combo system are surprisingly simple compared to the vast majority of fighting games. Almost every move is completed with two or three direction changes or buttons max, which makes button-mashing a reliable and dependent technique when you’re in a squeeze. While this loses the satisfaction of completing that 10-step combo move you’ve been practicing for days, it fills the battle with quick, intense barrages of small attacks that you can chain dozens of times.

Special moves and certain power attacks will force camera angle changes and prompt cinematic snippets that make the game feel like you’re watching an interactive episode of the show. To fully complete that mood, FighterZ features “Dramatic Finishes” when the game conditions are perfect. If players battle two characters in the same arena as those characters did in the show and a power attack is used for the finishing move, the match will end with an extended cinematic scene duplicating the scene in the episode.

Although Dragon Ball FighterZ isn’t the flawless gem every Dragon Ball fan has been hoping for, it rightfully takes its place, at the very least, in the top three best overall Dragon Ball games. It features competitive gameplay for experienced fighters yet remaining accessible to casual gamers and fighting game newcomers, while offering beautiful graphics and everything one would expect from such a legendary series.