Dragon Ball is one of those anime series that transcends time thanks to its passionate fanbase. While Dragon Ball Z ended back in 1996 (as well as the less loved Dragon Ball GT in 1997) their series would see a huge revival in 2013 with a release of two new movies and more recently a brand new series that is set after the events of Dragon Ball Z. One thing that never stopped however, was all the video games released in the last three decades.
While Japan has seen various releases since 1986, it wasn’t until the 2000’s where North America saw a new Dragon Ball game or two released every year by various developers. While many of those games were very memorable like the Budokai and Xenoverse titles, the latest release Dragon Ball FighterZ has easily become the most talked about and in my opinion the best Dragon Ball game created to date.
Previous Dragon Ball fighting games catered exclusively to fans of the series, complete with a giant roster of characters convoluted controls and usually retelling the story of the Dragon Ball series over and over. Featuring three-on-three tag battles, the game can be best compared to Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and 3 in terms of pace and action and stands out as a game that not only pleases fans of the series but also opens the game to fans of the fighting genre both casual and hardcore thanks to its amazing visuals and excellent controls that are simple enough for anyone to jump in and play, while being challenging to master and pull of some pretty crazy and visually impressive combos.
This is all thanks to Arc System Works, who isn’t a stranger to either fighting games or Dragon Ball games. Two things that Arc System Works has delivered on in previous titles has been exciting gameplay and amazing visuals and DB FighterZ delivers on both of those with 3D models that have been textured to look like 2D models that look even better than they do in the anime. Thanks to all this you get some amazing looking segments and dramatic camera moments that make this game such a joy to watch and play.
While the Dragon Ball series has an almost infinite amount of characters to select from, FighterZ features 24 characters (21 unique characters as Vegeta and Goku appear in different forms while Gohan appears as both a Teen and Adult) to select from which spans the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super anime series. Each character has their own unique fighting style which lets you discover what type of fighting style best suits you and most importantly it’s not super technical or difficult to jump right into.
The game is easily accessible to all type of players from seasoned professionals to the casual gamer who wants to have some fun. Combos are special attacks that are performed by pressing the light, medium, or heavy attacks which in succession set up auto combos and simple motions to activate your special moves. If you want to pull off more stylish and damaging combos it takes some extra time to practice links, tags (which can be done by holding down either the L1 or L2 buttons), rushing at opponents with super dashes, using dragon rushes to deal damage to an enemy that constantly, and take advantage of the Sparking Blasts (a one time ability) that can help extend combos or increase damage output and recover health.
I’ve been a long time fan of the Dragon Ball series since my high school days and it’s great to see the series alive and kicking with new content still being release including Dragon Ball Super. What’s really impressive is how Arc System Works went the extra mile of not only making the game look like I’m watching a never ending episode of the series but that it went so far as to recreate iconic moments from the series such as Goku awakening as a Super Saiyan, Gohan going Super Saiyan 2, Goku vs Beerus which can be activated by meeting certain requirements, not only that but you can also see one where Yamcha redeems himself against Nappa which is hilarious and rewarding to any die hard fan of the series.
Even if you aren’t a huge fans of the series, the game does a good job of keeping you updated with the events of the series as you play through the game’s story mode. You play through three different arcs that introduces a new character Android 21 who has resurrected defeated villains from the series including Cell, Ginyu, Nappa, Kid Buu and Frieza. It’s a pretty well written story that you definitely want to play through, especially to unlock Android 21 but it can be pretty tedious since all that you’re doing is endlessly fighting clones.
While I love the design and look of the game, the only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the online lobby. The entire game is based on a virtual hub, normally this is a great idea if you can handle a lot of players but unfortunately each server only handles about 64 players meaning at times you won’t be able to log-in and need to find another open server. In the hub you can access everything including training/practice, enjoy the game’s story mode, take on various challenges in the arcade mode, compete in ranked and casual matches and even watch other players videos. It’s a cool idea that Arc System Works has used in previous games including Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and Guilty Gear XRD but it also lacks a few things especially with such a massive game.
DB FighterZ netcode is solid, I’ve yet to come across any big issues during matches outside of rage quitting but finding matches is problematic as it can take awhile and you can’t do anything else while waiting, meaning you just need to wait and wait and check if you have someone waiting for you. Playing with friends is also difficult since the game doesn’t feature any type of matchmaking and instead you and your friends need to all log into the same server and create a lobby so that you can face off against each other and even this at times can be a problem. Hopefully Bandai Namco will remedy some of this soon, including some sort of punishment for all those rage quitters.
Honestly, outside of the online issues I’ve got nothing but praise for Dragon Ball FighterZ. It’s such a great fighting game from a developer who has made such amazing fighting games and most importantly brings the Dragon Ball series to life. If your’e a fan of Dragon Ball this is for you, if you are a fan of fighting games this is for you, it’s honestly a perfect combination of two worlds that fit in so perfectly together.
NUKE THE FRIDGE SCORE: 9.5/10
Dragon Ball FighterZ is currently available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.