I remember back in the mid to late 90s when Dragon Ball Z first started airing in the US. Like so many other kids, I would wake up to catch episodes before heading off to school. One thing that always confused me though was the abrupt ending of the series.
For those not old enough to remember, I’ll elaborate: Goku arrives on planet Namek and stares down members of the Ginyu Force, who had up until this point been laying the smack down on his friend, Krillin, and his son, Gohan. Goku’s arrival was what we’d been waiting for weeks for. Before that, he’d been traveling through space, training in a special gravity pod cranked to 100-times Earth’s gravity. Now he had arrived, with his serious eyes on, gearing up to fight the Ginyu Force. This was going to be epic.
Goku with his serious eyes on
We eagerly awaited the following morning, imaginations working overtime wondering what this fight was going to be like. So many characters were finally clashing. We woke up early the next morning, racing to the living room, smashing the power button on the remote control, rocking out through “Rock the Dragon,” and then, suddenly… we’re back on Earth. Raditz is crash-landing, terrorizing farmers, and seeking out his lost brother, Kakarrot.
What the actual ****?!
For years, this was all we knew of Dragon Ball Z. Just 52 spliced up, cobbled together episodes. At that time, the Internet was our only window into the stories that lie beyond that stare down between Goku and the Ginyu Force members. And I’m not talking YouTube videos and streams. I’m talking some dude’s GeoCities page, lo-res screenshots, and AOL’s “Japanimation” info section.
It was the dark ages, man.
Gold Nostalgia Badge for those who remember this garbage
The only place in North America where we could really get a glimpse at the larger story of Dragon Ball was through one game: Dragon Ball GT Final Bout. For those fortunate enough to not remember this game, let me lay it down for you: Crock of sh*t.
It took several years before we’d even see another Dragon Ball game on Western shores and a handful more before we saw anything good.
But the past is the past. Now, Dragon Ball FighterZ has finally been released, and people have been losing their minds for this thing since it was first announced.
Arc System Works
Title: Dragon Ball FighterZ
Developer: Arc System Works
Release: January 26, 2018 (WW) / February 1, 2018 (JP)
Platform(s): PS4 (reviewed)/PC/XboxOne
Rightly so. Developer Arc System Works – the team behind the legendary Guilty Gear series and its spiritual successor, Blaz-Blue – has been honing its eye-popping blend of 3D fighting systems and 2D sprite-inspired character designs for years. Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like the culmination of these efforts, an instantly dazzling display of over-the-top fighting action.
Dragon Ball FighterZ takes a Marvel vs. Capcom-style team approach, allowing you to choose up to three characters for your party. Like other games with team setups, you can switch to other characters with the tap of a button for a flashy team attack transition.
Whenever you defeat an enemy team member, the next character on that team will dash in dramatically for a short, cinematic transition into the next phase of the battle. It’s an impressive touch that doesn’t disrupt the flow of matches.
Arc System Works
The combo system is easy to pull off, allowing you to focus more on the action rather than what buttons to input. However, there are enough deeper systems, such as guard cancels and so on, to keep experienced fighting game fans engaged as well. But the simplified button layouts and easy-to-pull off combos mean that even novices can keep up in online matches for the most part. Which brings us to the game’s online components.
Some people who want to just jump in and play may find the interactive lobby annoying. You can create your own avatar of a super deformed Dragon Ball character and run around to different outlying locations to find the various game modes. Luckily, there is a warp function, but I can still see how the setup may irritate.
Being someone who’s not really bothered with serious online play, I found the lobby system entertaining and refreshing. It was quite fun to watch what other players were doing and run around a bit in between matches.
Arc System Works
The roster for Dragon Ball FighterZ is adequate. There are 24 characters total, which is a pretty hefty number but some are just different versions of the same character, such as Super Saiyan Goku and Super Saiyan Goku with blue hair.
Also, strangely absent are some of the Saiyan characters in the normal, non-Super Saiyan forms. All the rumblings about upcoming, leaked DLC may have something to do with that, though.
Arc System Works
To top off the excellent presentation, Arc System Works have included their typically awesome soundtrack work. Hard rock and metal-inspired background tracks keep the action pumping, working in the same way as in the Guilty Gear games.
While there are sure to be some out there who will decry this more accessible fighting game, most people are going to love it. You don’t even have to be a fan of Dragon Ball to be impressed with its visuals and gameplay. I’ve long fallen out of love with the series, but I couldn’t help but enjoy what Arc has put together here.