There is a legend in this Dragon Ball FighterZ review.
A legend told throughout the land that speaks of the seven legendary Dragon Balls.
It is said that if a person can find all seven Dragon Balls hidden across the world, gather them into one place and say the right words, that they can call forth the mythical dragon Shenron.
Shenron is not a normal dragon. He is a magical wish-granting dragon.
If you summon him forth, he has the power to grant you one wish. Whatever your heart desires can be yours.
I have somebody to thank because obviously some stranger must have gone and found the Dragon Balls and made a wish to Shenron because the Dragon Ball Z fighting game that I have been wishing for my entire life is a reality in Dragon Ball FighterZ.
I have given it a good walloping and it has indeed delivered one back. Now I have written a review for you to read with your eyeballs.
“You’re Krillin me Smalls!”
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a three-versus-three fighting game that lets players battle it out with their favourite Dragon Ball characters. Being quick on your feet and even faster with your fists is the key to victory. Pick your team of three, start a fight and before you know it ki blasts and energy beams are flying everywhere and everything is blowing up.
The last team standing wins.
What makes this game stand out from past Dragon Ball games is that it’s a 2.5D fighter much like Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite or Street Fighter V. This is a welcome departure from previous titles. I enjoyed Dragon Ball Xenoverse‘s full 3D movement and role-playing elements. That being said, I have been praying for the day that someone would make a 2D Dragon Ball fighting game and hooo boy has ArcSys delivered.
Go-ku and be a family man
Before I get stuck into the gameplay details let me get the most obvious comment about Dragon Ball FighterZ out of the way. Dragon Ball FighterZ is more polished and striking than Krillin’s bald shiny head. From the moment you start your first match and you see the characters in motion your jaw will hit the floor and you will have a hard time picking it up.
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The art direction in this game is perfect. The cel-shaded style that ArcSys nailed with Guilty Gear Xrd is working overtime to make every frame look like it was ripped straight from the Dragon Ball anime and manga.
Every pose and punch is familiar to fans. Special effects such as explosions and smoke have a gorgeous hand-drawn look and every sound and voice is 100% accurate from the show. It even includes the option of both Japanese AND English voices too!
ArcSys is comprised of huge Dragon Ball fans and the love and care that went into this game is clear evidence of that.
When you’ve finally stopped gawking at how good Dragon Ball FighterZ looks and pick your first fight, get ready to be blown away all over again.
In motion, Dragon Ball FighterZ is an absolute spectacle. Within a single match, you’ll see six iconic Dragon Ball characters flying around the screen, launching ki blasts, effortlessly knocking them away as they wreak destruction upon the background environment. You’ll see characters get knocked off the screen and sent careening through a mountain.
You’ll see explosions so big that the camera needs to zoom out to space to show it all. Occasionally, if you play your cards right you will see a giant dragon appear mid-match and grant you a wish.
Yes, this can all happen in a single match.
Dragon Ball FighterZ has been designed with the core goal of making every match you play is as over the top as possible. No matter how good you are at the game or fighters in general.
Goodness gracious, great ki-blasts of fire!
Gameplay-wise Dragon Ball FighterZ has a lot of depth to it. Fans of ArcSys’ previous games should not be surprised here; there are air-dashes, super long combos, assist and lots and lots of meter usage. However, there are a few clever gameplay tweaks to the standard 2D fighter formula that help to make this game deliciously Dragon Ball.
Most notably the ‘Super dash’ and the ‘Dragon rush’.
The ‘Super dash’ mechanic lets players soar across the screen at the press of a button. You’re able to home in, directly at the opponent in a full-range dashing attack. If your Super dash connects then you can open up the enemy for a full air combo. However, the move can be easily countered if the opponent is ready for it. It’s a wonderfully clever way of incorporating flight into a 2D fighting game while keeping the majority of the combat on the ground.
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Then there is the ‘Dragon rush’, which is this game’s way of handling throws. If the opponent is blocking all your punches, press the Dragon rush button and you’ll grab them, hit them with a flurry of punches and kicks and send them flying into the air. If the opponent sees it coming they can Dragon rush as well, with both of your characters punches and kicks clashing before you are both returned to a neutral position.
Again, these are super clever yet effective ways of applying a Dragon Ball spin on 2D fighting game mechanics, while not sacrificing gameplay for the sake of style.
Blonde is so in this season
A curious fact about Dragon Ball FighterZ is its approach to accessibility. Unlike the recent Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite that offers an easy combo mode as an optional control scheme, Dragon Ball FighterZ have auto combos built into the game.
During a fight, players can mash the light or heavy attack button and they’ll perform a simple but effective combo. These definitely aren’t the most damaging combos a player can do, but are effective enough to give players unfamiliar with fighting games a foot in the door. What’s more is that these combos are an accepted part of the game. If you have a friend over who is new to the game they don’t have to feel inadequate by having to choose “EASY MODE” from the game menu. New players will be fighting on the exact same footing as everyone else, and I think that is wonderful.
Experienced fighting game players won’t need to feel left out either. Dragon Ball FighterZ’s engine offers a lot of depth to allow fighters to craft their own combos and unique situations with clever use of meter and assists. This has only been in the first week of release as well, give this game a few months and people will be finding things to do in this game that nobody ever suspected.
No Tenkaichi, no Budokai, only FighterZ here
Outside of the versus action, Dragon Ball FightersZ has a lot to offer to keep players busy. Best of all it’s been done with a Dragon Ball twist. Whether online or offline, the entirety of the game’s interface is presented through a 3D lobby which is decorated in various settings from the series. In this lobby, players can browse through game modes and options by walking around this lobby with a little chibi version of a Dragon Ball character. Over time you can unlock a wide variety of characters and colours through gameplay.
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Not only is the lobby a cute and unique way of presenting a fighting game menu, it’s populated with about 60 other players with their chibi avatars going about their business. Players running about can send each other messages and pick fights without even needing to jump into ranked or casual play, it gives just browsing the menus a real social feel.
When players are not frolicking in the lobby with their cute little avatars they can try some of the game’s variety of modes. For offline fighting, there’s local versus and arcade ladders with branching trees and varying difficulties. A basic training mode is included that features a simple tutorial and basic character combos. While it is adequate compared to most fighting games, it is disappointing to see ArcSys didn’t make a tutorial as in-depth and detailed as their previous title Guilty Gear Revelator.
Have a Beerus on me
Online, the game offers the standard casual and ranked play. From the matches I played, the netcode felt pretty solid. Five and four-bar connections felt like I was playing against somebody locally, and even some games with a 2-bar connection still felt responsive and fun.
An interesting inclusion to online is the 3 vs 3 team battle mode, where players can team up to each control a single character on a 3 man team. While it will require some amazing co-operation to make tag combos work, it is a good option for people who are after some crazy fun with some friends.
For those who like some exposition between their fights, there is a Story mode. It features a tale of many Dragon Ball heroes and villains being forced to team up to fight a greater evil. It’s not that original but it gives everybody a reason to fight, and sometimes for a fighting game that is all you need.
The story mode is mildly interesting at first, with players moving their character across a map that resembles a board game, picking fights with CPU opponents. Eventually, they have to fight a slightly stronger boss CPU opponent and then you start the next chapter (of many). While there are cutscenes in-between fights that tell a pretty basic story, after a while, the process of repeatedly fighting mindless enemies feels like a real slog.
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One of the more entertaining parts of the story mode was the unique character interactions you would get based on what characters you had on your team. These were sometimes interesting and other times hilarious. I found myself making series villain Cell a mainstay in my team just to hear him roast every character that he was paired up with.
No I am not using an ‘Over 9000’ gag, sorry
From the overall presentation down to the little details, it’s overwhelmingly obvious just how much love and care went into Dragon Ball FighterZ’s presentation. I have never seen Dragon Ball characters recreated this well in a game before, and all the little references and easter eggs from the anime and manga that are littered throughout the game are sure to make new and old Goku fans alike grin from ear to ear.
While the story mode became a bit of a grind, overall my time with Dragon Ball FighterZ has been an absolute blast (pun intended).
I intend to keep coming back for more. With its deep yet accessible gameplay, this game is likely to keep every kind of Dragon Ball fan happy whether they are experienced with fighting games or not.
If you are a fan of Dragon Ball, get this game, simple as that.
Dragon Ball FighterZ was reviewed on PS4 using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer. A promotional code was also provided to PowerUp! by Bandai Namco.
Game Title: Dragon Ball FighterZ
Game Description: Power up and blow everything up in this hectic 3v3 fighter.
Literally the best looking DBZ game I have ever seen - 10/10
A very Dragon Ball twist on 2D fighting game mechanics - 9/10
Grindy story mode, made up for with fun character interations - 8/10