Akira Toriyama's seminal hit, martial arts series was always a fit for 2D animation, and ever since the HD era of video games, 2D Dragon Ball games have been almost non-existent. Now, with all the advancements in gaming technology, Arc System Works has finally hit a jackpot for the most screen-accurate DBZ game with Dragon Ball FighterZ. Not only the cel-shaded graphics bring a whole new life to these iconic characters that have been gracing our TVs, the game packs in an intuitive fighting system and a brand-new story too. It's been awhile since my initial reactions to the game, so let's check it out:
A typical Dragon Ball Z game would follow the 3 main arcs of the series, that being the Frieza Arc, the Cell Arc and the Buu Arc. This game takes place in the sequel series, Dragon Ball Super, which takes place a decade or so before the end of Z. The story introduces a brand-new android villain, Android 21, an original character made by Akira Toriyama himself for the game. The game involves Android 21, a revived Android 16, and a whole bunch of clones of our favorite heroes and villains wreaking havoc across the world. The story splits itself up into 3 main arcs as well, the Super Warriors Arc, the Super Villain Arc, and the Android 21 Arc, which all involves, you the player taking control of either Frieza, Goku or Android 18, as they all try to uncover the mystery of Android 21 and stop her evil machinations. While the story isn't as over the top as a usual DBZ arc, it is still highly enjoyable and really puts the player in the driving seat of the entire plot.
Many would tell you that the game's fighting system is comparable to the Marvel VS Capcom series, specifically Marvel VS Capcom 3, I'd say the game is much faster and encourages the player to chase their opponents and beat the life bar out of them. Players with 3 fighters each on their team, with each player able to switch out between their 3 characters at any time. The roster consists of all the usual Dragon Ball characters, this ranges from main characters like Goku, Vegeta and Gohan, to minor baddies like Captain Ginyu and Nappa. The game also has newer characters like Beerus and Goku Black as initial fighters. Though the initial 20 plus characters is satisfactory, it does suck that the other half of my most-wanted list didn't make the cut.
The fighting is incredibly fast-paced, there's a light, medium, and heavy attack button and mastering the timing and the sequence of the attack buttons is crucial in chaining combos. There's also a ki blast button, pressing it allows for a character to shoot a ki blast to their opponent, a staple in every Dragon Ball game. Like the recent Marvel VS Capcom: Infinite game, FighterZ puts an emphasis on auto-combos, for example just mashing the light attack button will ensure a combo string as long as every attack hits and the opponent doesn't block. This is great for newcomers and really adds a razzle-dazzle to the combat, making it feel fluid and never slow.
What's great about this game is that despite it being a new Dragon Ball experience, it definitely doesn't forget its roots and does have a couple of DBZ staples from games like the Budokai and Tenkaichi Budokai series that are brought over to this game. Other than the aforementioned dedicated ki blast button, the game also allows for players to charge their super meter at any time, unless the opponent puts a stop to it. Other hold over mechanics include the Dragon Rush, which allows you to rush into your opponent and break their guard; Vanish Attacks, which allows you to teleport behind your opponent for a surprise attack; and also the Sparking Blast, which is a one-time buff to your character that also heals them over time.
Overall, Dragon Ball FighterZ is the ultimate Dragon Ball experience. It is very fun and challenging, while being a great game for newcomers to join in the fray. The game is still experiencing some server issues here and there, hopefully a patch is on the way to fix that. If fighting other people is your thing, couch play is still the way to go. And the single player campaign is great as well and really hones your skills as a FighterZ. This is a definitely a must-buy for fans of Dragon Ball and fighting games in general.