Reviewed: January 5, 2004
Released: November 24, 2003
The more I play my GBA the more I am starting to think this system is quickly becoming the dumping ground for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and select Japanese franchises. The quality games are becoming fewer and farther between and the deluge of “let’s milk the consumer for yet another buck” titles are overflowing the shelves.
Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu is one of those games that will undoubtedly have little kids dragging their parents into the software aisle kicking and screaming (the kids that is…or maybe not). This animated series has a following that rivals Pokemon, Rugrats, or any other currently hot animated series and this translates to easy sales whether the game is good or not.
Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu features:
While I don’t mind converting a popular series into a mindless genre such as “fighting” it should at least be done well. Budokai wasn’t the best example of a console fighting game but at least it had movies and a bit of style that tied the gameplay into the series. In Taiketsu you are simply thrust into an endless string of battles with no motivation to keep going other than unlocking a surprising amount of bonus items.
As with any fighting game the action is all based around the cast of fighters and the assortment of moves and combos. While Taiketsu comes with a respectable cast of 15 fighters they all share a limited set of moves and there just isn’t enough distinction or special moves among them to make you want to try them all.
The fight engine is also quite poor, partly because of some very stiff animation that doesn’t allow the game to flow naturally, but mainly because the punk, kicks and combos just don’t work in the mind of the gamer. You can pull off some huge moves that do little damage and strike a lucky punch that does massive damage. The balance is just totally off.
The biggest disappointment has to be the signature air battle segments that try to mimic the action of the series but fall terribly short. Basically, if you choose to participate in an air battle you are dumped into an arcade mini-game where you simply mash a sequence of buttons as fast as you can to win. It becomes all about reflexes and nothing about moves or combos.
The 3D characters look nice until they start to move then the animation gets all jerky, almost like South Park. This really takes away from the combat and gameplay and makes everything feel loose and unpredictable. Some of the power moves and combos are actually so fast they trigger odd gameplay results and even graphical glitches.
There are several backgrounds that resemble familiar locations from the show and the character art is also true to the series. The designers make a good attempt to include some anime influence animation and artwork but overall the title fails to impress.
While there are a few recognizable music clips from the show you won’t find much else to associate this game with the franchise. Other than generic grunts, groans, and random punch and kicks sounds, this game doesn’t offer anything exciting or even that good.
By design, the game wants to be played over and over in order to unlock all the bonus items like artwork, character bios, and music. It’s a nice offering, at least in quantity, but nothing in the bonus section is really worth subjecting yourself to repeated passes through a lame fighter.
Taiketsu supports the GBA link cable for two-player fighting, but a second copy of the game is required. This means you need a friend who not only has the tolerance for below average games but also the cash to buy them.
Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu is a classic example of the designers resting on the success of the series and putting very little effort into the gameplay. As a game, the design is weak with no story or motivation leaving only a barebones fighter. When you tack on the extremely poor fighting engine and twitchy graphics the game sinks further into mediocrity.
Whether Taiketsu ends up being a commercial success or total failure we can all be sure this won’t be the last Dragon Ball Z game that we will be seeing, so my advice to you is to let this one slip by and wait for the next. Hopefully they’ll get it right next time.