Super Dragon Ball Z Review

PlayStation 2

December 31, 1969 by

Super Dragon Ball Z Image

I’ve played a lot of fighting games in my day: some good, some bad. In playing both sides, I’ve learned one important thing: A fighting game has to do at least one thing none of the others do: it must do one thing very well in order for the game to work. Super Dragon Ball Z can be added to my list of good fighting games for that very reason; only it does many things different, not just one.

I may be the only person to say this, but I loved a sheltered, unprompted fighter called “Power Stone” for the Dreamcast for one reason: the huge, roving landscapes you could battle on. DBZ uses this formula and takes it to a whole new level. No longer are you bound by tight screens, tiny circles, or formatted landscapes. DBZ gives the player more freedom and more environments to battle on than any other fighting game out there. It takes it up a notch. I can fly across vast landscapes, use one button to scrape across them and slam my opponent. Or, if need be, I can hurl them into any one of the several background objects, destroying it in the process. I absolutely loved all the ground I could cover bringing the fight in close, as well as taking more than one step back so I could rework my strategy and shoot off a couple of fireballs.

Speaking of Fireballs, DBZ also has a cool level up system. Basically with any fight, won or lost, you earn experience points. Gain enough of these, and you earn a new skill. The cool thing is that you can choose which skill you want to use, as you are given several different options. Sometimes you can choose between a teleport attack or a guided fireball, while other times you can pick how fast either your “Action” bar goes up or your super goes up. It definitely adds to the replay value of the game, and makes hefty battles that much more worth it.

Interestingly enough, skills aren’t the only thing you gain. If you play through regular mode you earn Dragon Balls. After you have gained all seven of them, it allows you to call on Shenryu the Dragon to get one wish granted. Sometimes the wishes are a new costume or color, other times you can add more length on to your action bar. You can also add the very cool, very unique aspect of stealing your opponent’s super move. I had some fun with that one.

However, it was hard to pull them off sometimes. The actual battle system in this game can be irritating at times. The combos get a little redundant, but you can pull off super moves at any time, allowing you to link them to your combos. It was the controls I had a hard time with. Each character moved smoothly, and it was fairly easy to pull off sidesteps; I just had a hard time actually getting my character to do anything beyond that. It seemed as though I had to input the code to go “Super Saiyan” almost four times before it worked, and I would do the down-forward classic to sling a fire ball -- and sometimes all I did was punch. It’s not insanely over-bearing, but when you’re in a crisis situation, the controls need to be tight. Sadly they aren’t.

DBZ is also lacking as far as shelf life goes. I imagine it would be a little more tolerable if I was a fan of the show, but after a good many rounds I found myself uninterested. There is no draw, aside from the mass of things to unlock, to continue playing it. If you’re like me and have to unlock every single thing offered, then you are going to get bored. The experience never seemed to build up fast enough, and those new moves mentioned above were never quite worthy of the time it took to actually get them. I just felt like I was playing the hell out of one character, fighting the same enemies over and over until I either unlocked a new item or just couldn’t take it anymore. It may be easier for people who like to mix it up, but I like to focus on one character. DBZ’s content, although much appreciated, may be a bit too much.

I do have to mention how fabulous DBZ looks. I’ve only watched the show a few times, but from what I’ve seen the character rendering is flawless. The cel-shading is magnificent and almost as gorgeous as Dragon Quest VIII. Any loyal follower of the show, I’m sure, would not be disappointed. The sound also remains loyal to the fans, and the voice-overs, although brief, really add to the experience. It might not hurt to have a better soundtrack in between, but it’s a minor complaint. I don’t know about the narrator at the beginning either. He kind of reminded me of an ‘80’s monster truck advertisement. “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!” You know?

Super Dragon Ball Z, to me, is a good game. For fans, it’s probably a great game. I loved the fact I could battle on a huge environment, I could customize my character and I could unlock at least a few cool things. It’s a good-looking game and it doesn’t sound horrible. The only drawbacks come from not being a fan of the show. I don’t have a favorite character and to this day I don’t know what “Super Saiyan” means. That said, it is definitely a must buy for fans of the show. Hell, it’s good enough that it may even make a fan out of me.

Rating: 8/10

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.

About the Author: Greg Knoll

May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.

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