Like everyone, I grew up playing a lot of fighting games. In my mind, they were simple. All I needed to do was punch someone and then accidentally do this really cool move that I could never recreate. I booted up my cousin's PSOne and playing Mortal Kombat - and then booted up their SNES to play Street Fighter. However, nothing could hold a candle to Dragon Ball Z.
Say what you will, but I always loved DBZ as a kid - and the chance to play their games was so cool to child me. I played every game for every system - even the two games they had for the GameBoy Advanced! Eventually, though, they became less and less like the traditional fighting game. They took on more of a sandbox kind of feel - shirking the horizontal back and forth action for a truly 3-D fighting experience.
And while this wasn't bad thing - part of me always feels like the series lost itself a little after that. It became less about the fighting and more about recreating the show's experience in video game form. My love for these games diminished over the years.
Until Dragon Ball FighterZ happened.
Dragonball FighterZ is a 2.5D fighting game by Arc System Works. Sometime during the events of Dragon Ball Super, a mysterious enemy named Android 21 has revived all of Goku's toughest enemies. Using a powerful wave machine, she has sealed away all of the heroes of the world and only you can free them by taking control of their bodies and helping them fight this strange, new threat. When you're not going through the game's story mode, you can also connect online and challenge friends and other players from around the world in competitive matches using some of your favorite DBZ characters.
There's a lot of good in this game - the first being that it's an actual fighting game with all of the fun conventions that come with it. Whether it be the button smashing, or the pride you feel when you manage to land a perfect combo, the nostalgic gameplay is really fun. And due to the unique moves of each player, you never feel like you're going through the motions as you fight a new enemy. Sure, while the enemies themselves are not entirely new, instead taking from Xenoverse and adding a whole new story for the player to navigate through.
While the story does have it's odd moments, it's easy to forget because it's just so darn fun. Is it weird that there are grey-shaded clones of everybody running around? Yes, of course. Does the whole soul wave thing really make sense? No, not at all. But Dragon Ball isn't a series that's always made tons of sense, so why should it matter? What matters is that the game is fun, and the story is cohesive enough to let the player have fun as they're playing through.
The fighting gameplay and this fresh new story provide the player with an important experience that combines both nostalgia and freshness. You feel like you're coming home to a friend that you've missed for a long time, but they've changed a lot and you have so much to talk about and experience together now that you're finally seeing them.
Still, as much as I enjoyed this game, there are just a few problems that I feel must be addressed.
The. Voice. Acting. Sucked. This may be my critique of just entire Dragon Ball series, now that I think about it, but the voice acting was terrible in this game (or at least the English voice acting was). My face contorted in disgust when I heard Bulma scream out her first couple of lines. It made me almost want to turn the game off, but thankfully I stuck to my guns and continued forward. Eventually, I let it go, but it was enough to almost break the immersion almost immediately and that's a big problem for a game that has this much dialogue.
The only other issue I had was the online capabilities. If they weren't just not working, they were tedious to deal with. I will admit, I don't do online that often, so I may have just not been used to the set up - but it really got on my nerves!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you love fighting games, then you are obligated to give this game a look. It's taken everything you love about DBZ and modern fighting titles and mashed it together into a special product that feels like a return to form for this massive video game/anime/manga franchise. It's story is weird, but it's only as weird as the rest of the series. And while there are a few minor issues, they are all easily overlooked when you take in the big picture.
It's a really good game, you guys. If you can, you should definitely give it a go.
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played games since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any games you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!
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