Reviewed: August 18, 2006
Released: July 18, 2006
Atari, publisher of the well-known Budokai line, releases its next Dragon Ball Z fighter. Budokai is a hard line to follow, but Atari isnít one to follow-up with a cheap knock-off. The gist of the Super Dragon Ball Z is similar to other Dragon Ball Z games: collect the Dragon Balls. With characters from some of the most well-known sagasóFrieza, Android, Cell Games, Majin Buu, and Namekósome of the seriesí strongest fighters have come together to battle each other for the all-powerful Dragon Balls.
Super Dragon Ball Z has the following features:
Super Dragon Ball Z has a few modes to play in. The main modes are Original and Z Survivor. Thereís also Training, Customize, and Dragon Summoning. You will undoubtedly spend the majority of your time in either Original mode or Z Survivor.
Original and Z Survivor pit you against computer-controlled fighters. In Original, you take on seven opponents, with each giving you a Dragon Ball. Z Survivor puts you up against nine fighters with a catch: you only have one life bar. After each match, you can select an option from a roulette wheel, ranging from Dragon Balls to regaining health. Each character is progressively stronger than the previous. Beating all nine will prove to be rather difficult if your character isnít very strong. Also, as you win battles, you will gain battle power, becoming stronger. Youíll also gain points towards unlocking new skills.
Once you collect all seven Dragon Balls, you can summon Shenron to grant you a wish. Many of the wishes are geared towards customizing your character. However, every so often you will be given the chance to wish for something unique, such as unlocking a character. There are plenty of wishes to be granted, so youíll be spending a lot of time to get all of them.
Customize allows you to do just that, customize your character. You can change his or her outfit or skills, assuming youíve unlocked them already. You need to be careful choosing your skills, though. Once you choose one, you canít go back and change it. Well, you can, but you need to wish for your character to start fresh with no skills.
Training allows you to practice your moves. You can have your opponent be controlled by a person or the computer. The biggest downside to this mode is that fact that there wasnít a way to get the computer to attack me without being attacked first. Youíre also limited to the capsule stage for training mode.
The Action Bar adds a new element to Super Dragon Ball Z. It shows how much energy you have for flying or dash attacks. Dash attacks are very useful in this game, so having a large Action Bar can oftentimes determine whether youíll in or lose.
Like most fighters, the button layout consists of a weak and strong attack, guard, dash attacks, and throws. Certain button combinations allow you to perform special attacks, such as launching Krillinís Destructo-Disk. Unlike Budokai, Super Dragon Ball Z allows you to fly and jump. However, it doesnít possess the split-screen action that Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 did. The environments arenít large enough to make it necessary. The large battlefields gave a bore a huge resemblance to the series. Thus, itís a sorely missed feature. However, that doesnít make Super Dragon Ball Z a failure. It still possesses a decent fun factor for a fighter.
Rich and vibrant describe the colors in Super Dragon Ball Z. The graphics team paid close attention to detail to achieve characters that are virtually flawless when compared to their anime counterparts. Some of the cutscenes are rather dull, but most else is done well. Pay close attention and youíll even see a guest appearance from Mr. Satan.
The movements of the characters are pretty fluid. There really arenít any glitches to worry about. The layout of the HUD is also very similar to the majority of fighting games out there. You have your standard life bar and energy bar at the top and an action bar at the bottom. Even being a 3-D fighter, the cameraís rotation isnít jerky. Itís simple to keep up with all the movement.
You wonít really see any spectacular energy blasts like in the show, though. Granted, some ultimate moves wield awesome power. Yet they just donít have the same punch youíd expect of fighters with multi-million B.P. levels.
Any Dragon Ball Z fan will quickly recognize many of the sounds in the game. Goku going Super Saiyan brings back memories of its debut from the Namek saga. Even minor sounds, like landing on the ground, mimic the effects from the show itself. Fans will also appreciate the many familiar voices. From the mighty Goku and Gohan to the infamous Buu and Cell, many characters voice their presence, even the omnipotent Shenron lends his voice to Super Dragon Ball Z. The most critical fans will not be able to differentiate between the voices in the game from those in the show. Why? Because the same people do the voices for both.
The only drawback to the sound is the music. It just doesnít sound like something that fits with Dragon Ball Z. After watching tons of episodes, you develop a feel and expectation of the music style. Super Dragon Ball Z just doesnít hit the right note. However, the music is not really that distracting, so it isnít much of a flaw.
Original mode will only take you about ten minutes to get through. To beat all the combatants in Z Survivor will take you a little longer, but I even managed that in just under three hours of total play. Customizing your character encompasses practically everything relevant to replay value. With nearly a dozen costumes to unlock, hidden characters, voices, and a few other surprises, youíll be playing for a while to get everything.
Super Dragon Ball Z is lacking in the online department. Sure, you can dominate your friends with your beefed-up customized Majin Vegeta, but you canít go online and be ruler of the world. Building a character up to 80,000,000 B.P. seems so lonely when he doesnít have a worthy opponent to fight against.
There also isnít an in-depth story mode that you can play through. Other fighters like Mortal Kombat at least have entwined stories that you can immerse yourself in to add to the gameís replay value. Super Dragon Ball Z, though, is basically just one battle after another. The retail price for Super Dragon Ball Z sits at $39.99. Like most Dragon Ball Z games, the price will likely be dropping down to the $19.99 mark.
Big Dragon Ball Z fans will almost definitely have a blast with this game. But, revolving almost solely around individual battles, the game might want to take a backseat to some other $39.99 games. If you have Budokai 3, consider hanging on to it until Super Dragon Ball Z becomes cheaper. Had it had an online feature or the split-screen action of Budokai 3, the verdict would have been different.