After being milked all over the world for more than twenty years and having exhausted even his own fans with replicas and merchandising, even for Dragon Ball Z a slow decline has begun that sees it appear more and more rarely. especially in the videogame landscape, supplanted by the new shonen of the moment such as One Piece or Naruto.
This does not mean that it has been forgotten or that there is no longer room for Goku, Vegeta and the others on our television screens: every now and then we have to squeeze a little more this goose that lays the golden eggs that continues to conquer new readers and viewers. . Artdink tried it with a different title than usual, a brawler that is more a "simulator" of the famous fights of the series than a real fighting game. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is strongly inspired by Dragon Ball Z: Idainaru Dragon Ball Densetsu, a peculiar title released in the mid-90s for PlayStation and SEGA Saturn who, perhaps due to the technological limitations of the era, was unable to fully reach the set goals, carving out a place in the hearts of fans and being forgotten by the rest of the world ... until today.
Battle of Z is a different title than usual and full of great ideas that, however, fails to hit the mark
Fragments of Dragon Ball Z
While becoming more and more elaborate and spectacular, the various fighting games at Dragon Ball matches have never managed to reproduce one hundred percent the frenzy and complexity of the choreographic fights orchestrated by Akira Toriyama in the second part of his manga. Battle of Z aims to do just that, deploying a decidedly peculiar gameplay that is based on the most important and convulsive battles of the series, taking a few licenses here and there to translate them into a very long series of missions.
The battles are more than forty, in fact: it obviously begins with the arrival of the Saiyans on Earth and passes through the narrative arcs of Freeza, Cell and Majin Buu, putting in the middle some clashes taken from some animated feature films - such as The Super Saiyan of Legend and Cooler's Revenge - to get to Dragon Ball Z's most recent cinematic proposal, The Battle of the Gods. The Dragon Ball GT series has been completely excluded and most of the missions offer "alternative" challenges that tell us what would have happened if the bad guys had won or that put us in the shoes of the enemies of Goku and associates. The proposal, all in all, is more than generous, even if it leaves a bit perplexing the choice of characters in the roster, which includes the anonymous henchmen of Freeza, for example, but does not propose Gogeta or Jamemba. Each mission is introduced by a short cinematic sequence that summarizes the story in a few bars, taking up those of the comic and the animated series: the plot, in short, is quite concise and there are no narrative sequences to link the various missions, thus leaving anyone confused who does not know the history of Dragon Ball Z. The texts in Spanish, fortunately, are quite clear, and subtitle the dubbing in English that makes you regret the Japanese voices and their screams full of intensity. The result is a sort of fragmented cartoon, thanks also to the graphic realization in an excellent cel shading that if not surprising on PlayStation 3 certainly leaves a very pleasant impression on the small OLED screen of PlayStation Vita, returning images that look like a real one. interactive anime.
Never change a winning team?
In addition to the Story mode, Battle of Z also offers a cooperative mode - which allows you to face online missions together with friends and strangers - and a competitive mode divided into various types of challenges.
Let's cut the bull's-head by anticipating that playing online before the game was released in the West was not easy at all, especially since the options are very tight and you can't start a game until the room is full. The few times we have succeeded, we have had to deal with a decidedly disappointing netcode that literally boycots the game with a lag that makes it difficult to coordinate and play strategy. The battles of Battle of Z, in fact, are not a mere question of "button mashing" and instead require a minimum of strategy that emphasizes the RPG component implemented by Artdink. The concept is very simple: each character can belong to one of the various categories of support, close attack or ranged combat and has a triptych of peculiar special moves. If characters like Goku or Vegeta, in their various forms, are particularly skilled in close combat or in the projection of energy attacks, others like Krillin or Number 18 have skills that can briefly stun enemies or heal their companions. In short, the choice of the team that has to face a mission becomes fundamental, also because the Story mode, before being concluded, imposes limits on the characters that can be used to face a specific enemy, in accordance - or almost - with the original plot. .
In addition to having specific skills and attacks, the various characters increase in level by gaining experience points and, as if that were not enough, they can be upgraded by equipping them with cards conquered at the end of each mission and increasing values such as melee and ranged attack power, Ki regeneration speed, total life total and so on. Some cards, called Premium, are unlocked by completing the various missions of the Story mode and can be purchased by spending the Premium points and Dragon Ball points earned by fighting: among them the objects that are activated in battle, temporarily influencing the abilities of the characters, also stand out. In short, once you have chosen and configured your team, the mission is launched and the battle begins ... and it is precisely at that moment that the pain begins. And not just for our enemies.
PlayStation 3 Trophies
You can get 49 normal and secret trophies in Battle of Z: in addition to platinum there are 32 bronze, 12 silver and two gold trophies. Most are conquered by completing the various missions and story arcs; others, on the other hand, are unlocked by carrying out specific actions, winning in particular ways and collecting all the cards and objects in the game.
A nice kick in the Dragon Balls
In reality, the first few missions in Battle of Z are enjoyable and refreshing. They propose a different approach than usual and reproduce in a rather convincing way the famous fights of the anime. The control system is not exactly intuitive, and it takes a couple of missions to get used to despite its apparent simplicity: one button is dedicated to the melee attack that can be extended in a simple combo, two allow you to get up or down in flight , a quarter allows you to launch an energy projectile. By combining the four main keys with a backbone, the special moves of the character we are controlling are carried out, among which one stands out, the same for everyone, which allows you to throw away the enemy and start the famous ping pong games with the target. It is of course possible to lock an enemy and change targets with a simple button, but also to target a companion to heal or revive him in case of need, perhaps transferring some of our Ki. The latter, in fact, feeds our special moves, and you have to calculate its consumption if you don't want to be stunned after using an attack that we could not afford. The whole scene is dominated by the Genki bar, which is loading as time passes and the enemies are beaten, and which once reached certain points unlocks the possibility of performing very powerful special techniques, if not even the final ones that only very few characters they can afford to throw.
So far it all sounds very interesting and fun, doesn't it? The problems instead arise after a few missions and when you arrive at the Cell saga you have to deal with Artdink's evaluation errors: the difficulty rises monstrously and you find yourself forced to ask for help online or repeat the previous missions to level up the characters. or earn new cards and points to spend. As if that weren't enough, the artificial intelligence of our three companions, which we cannot control, borders on absolute stupidity. Not infrequently we happened to fail a mission at the very end because our companions, a few meters from our lifeless body, refused to revive us, letting the countdown that marks the consumption of our "lives" expire, after which ... it's game over. Although it is possible to give general indications on the tactics to follow in battle, our partners seem to constantly go their own way, healing us sporadically or refusing to attack our own target, perhaps diving head down against giant bosses like Hildegarn or Vegeta in the form of ape.
Even though you play in four, you always feel alone, in short, and the frenzy of the fighting continually sends a camera into tilt that cannot keep up with the action effectively., often confusing our ideas. Even worse is the case of some missions that must be completed by throwing a final technique, such as Goku's Genkidama Sphere: in these cases our character will remain motionless to load his final shot and the player will spend a whole minute repeatedly pressing a button to channel the Genki energy accumulated by all the players in the world (a little touch of class, accompanied by the real PSN usernames). The problem is that enemy attacks can interrupt the process, forcing us to start it all over again if not making us fail the mission, emphasizing once again the embarrassing artificial intelligence of our comrades who do everything but defend us: a situation to say the least. frustrating that, in the end, makes us regret those banal fighting games that we thought we no longer needed.
CommentVersion tested: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita Resources4Gaming.com
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is a half-successful experiment. On the one hand it confirms that it is still possible to exploit the franchise in surprising and different ways than usual, on the other hand it is undermined by various defects that affect precisely what should be the strengths of a gameplay that is all in all interesting and enjoyable. A better artificial intelligence would have solved several of these flaws and a more calibrated difficulty balance would have saved us from real hysterics. Ultimately, Battle of Z is a title that will appeal to hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans, who will appreciate its "simulation" side and the small, great ideas that set it apart from the usual fighting game.
- Good technical realization
- Interesting gameplay
- Lots of missions and online co-ops
- Disappointing artificial intelligence
- Difficulty calibrated badly
- Quite repetitive