KAMEHAMEHA!! Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is the latest instalment into the Dragon Ball video game franchise from Namco Bandai which features huge battles set within huge battlefields. Dragon Ball has always been a love of mine ever since the show appeared on Cartoon Network in the early 2000’s and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z focuses on the DBZ franchise and features some of the most iconic battles in the series which brings with it some fantastic nostalgia and a must-have for any Dragon Ball fan.
For me Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is my first Dragon Ball Z game, so hopefully I’ll be able to give you some insight as a new player rather than comparing this title to Dragon Ball Z: Bodukai, for example.
Like with most action packed games based on Japanese Anime as soon as you start the game you’re met with a brilliant, loud, and character rich introduction which features snippets from the shows infamous fights. You’re then thrown into a very arcade-themed menu sequence on top of a really interesting feature which shows the “World Energy” as well as the glowing orbs of everyone who’s played the game, or at this moment in time the demo.
From here you have the choice to play either the Single Player, Co-Op Mode, Battle Mode or head to the Options, the Options are where any true Anime fan is going to head because from here you can change the voices back to Japanese with English captions, there’s also controller settings and a few other things, the Options is also where you create your Xbox Live Party for playing online or via the Co-Op mode.
When you begin the Co-Op Mode and Battle Modes are both greyed out forcing you to play the Single Player mode and learn the ropes and here is where the Story begins. Missions One through Four are your typical tutorial missions which explain the games control system, one that’s fairly simple but complicated to master, I might add. These tutorials aren’t boring either, they’re cleverly masked by a couple of staple fights from earlier on in the Dragon Ball Z series.
The fourth mission introduces you to the games main feature. Missions one through three will select your team for you, but level four you’re fully allowed to customise who you have on your squad, something that’s then reflected throughout the game. However some Missions do require you to use a certain set of characters in order to keep the continuity of the TV show in tact.
It’s this four player co-operative system that sets this game apart from other fighting games because depending on who is on your team will depend on how you perform because as you might expect, each character has their own special ability, some focus on battle, others are more support characters that provide your chosen character with energy – it’s these guys you definitely want on your team.
Of course the more you progress the more characters you unlock giving you the ability to build a team which features characters from various different Dragon Ball Z Sagas. Mix the likes of Goku, Krillin, Kid Gohan, and Piccolo with the likes of Vegeta, Raditz, and Nappa to create the ultimate team to defeat the enemies found in each Mission.
Every mission you unlock will be a part of a Dragon Ball Z Saga, you begin at the start with a few missions based on the Saiyan Saga which then unlocks the Frieza Saga as well as some random missions from ‘Another Age’, ‘Extra Age’, and ‘Special Age’, there’s also the Cell Saga, Majin Buu Saga which go in order of the story found in the TV Show. Fans of Dragon Ball Z will be pleased to know that during each Saga you’ll be able to recreate some of the shows more epic battles, some of which like the mission featuring Great Ape Vegeta count as Boss Battles which require more than just mashing buttons to win.
Speaking of mashing the buttons Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z’s control system is fairly straight forward. As we all know from Dragon Ball Z most of the battles do take place in the air so with that in mind, the buttons X and A have been assigned to ascend and descend in the air, with that we’re left with Y and B which have both been assigned with melee attacks and Ki Blast or range attacks respectively. The two triggers are used for each characters Unique Attack and the bumpers are used for guarding and targeting specific enemies.
Finally there’s very minimal button combinations using the left bumper and a combination of A, B, X or Y. Special moves can be performed by hitting Y and B together (For Goku it’s his Kamehameha) and finally the characters ultimate move can be performed by pressing Left Bumper, X and A together. Finally the D-Pad is used for selecting your strategy which can definitely help in the fight.
In Battle of Z it’s less about the types of attack and more about executing it perfectly in order for it to work with your team because like I’ve mentioned before that’s the main focus of this game. Teaming up correctly will help you in battle by performing battle techniques like Synchro Rush, Meteor Chain, and Revive Soul. Syncho Rush if correctly executed will link you up with your team mate and you’ll both lay hell into the opposing character, Meteor Chain is probably the most fun of the three as it works more like a game of catch except the enemy is the ball, finally Revive Soul is the most important skill to learn.
One thing I will point out is that there’s no obvious indication as to when to launch the Syncho Rush, you’ll find that your character and another team member will be pummeling into the enemy, then all of a sudden the Syncho Rush will happen. At least, that’s what I found anyway.
In each mission you’re given a set of retries which are used by your entire team, if you end up getting knocked out and your timer counts down, it’s not game over, you’ll just use one of these retries. The same goes for your team mates, so in order to keep the retry usage to a minimum you click down the right stick, select your downed team mate then press Y to revive them. It’s simple and will save you a lot of time on a particularly difficult mission.
Energy is also a huge part of Battle of Z, unlike some fighting games where you can mash the buttons and hope that you’ll win, mashing buttons in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z will only waste energy and if your character has no energy they’ll freeze until they’ve regained enough to move again, this is something you don’t want to happen in the heat of a boss battle so that’s why the left bumper is key in order to block attacks which in turn give you more energy, that, or you could have someone on your team that dishes energy out by the pound.
In order to personalise your characters a little more at the end of each mission you’re awarded with cards, these cards can be added to your character to increase their statistics whether it’s greater HP, stronger aerial attacks, or more energy, they’ll all come in use at some point. There’s also the option to purchase and add items to your characters to use in-game, these can be purchased with Dragon Points that you earn throughout the game these items offer abilities that can be used for a minute or so to temporarily increase stats or regain some health.
Premium Points are also rewarded at the end of certain missions which can be used to purchase more cards and even special ability cards which cost a silly amount of PP. Not all premium cards are filled with goodness, with some you have to sacrifice some other stats in order to get this stat boost.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is filled with characters from almost every Dragon Ball Z Saga as well as some that have appeared in Dragon Ball Z movies. The game features over 70 characters which consist of both normal characters and transformed characters. Instead of losing one character to a transformation Battle of Z has made them all available as playable characters which can all be bundled together into one team.
Yes you can have Goku, Super Saiyan, Super Saiyan 2, and Super Saiyan 3 fighting along side each other if you really wanted.
Moving on from the Single Player mode, you’ll then notice that after the first few missions the Co-operative Mode and Battle Mode is unlocked. Co-operative Mode allows you to enlist the help of other players on missions you’re particularly stuck with, or you can complete the entire game co-operatively if you so wish.
Battle Mode is a player vs. player mode where you and seven other people from around the world can battle it out with their favourite characters. Here you’re given just two retries, then you’re out of there. But be warned, you’ll probably come across some mean looking characters and fall flat on your face, like I did.
Overall Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is a must have title for any Dragon Ball Z fan. If you’ve watched the program from the start you’ll be pleased to know that most, if not all of the major battles are there including that ridiculously long battle between Frieza and all of his forms, thankfully not all at once, though you’ll need to get through a ton of Frieza’s soldiers before you get to him, mind. The control system is a little simple so it may be a little disappointing for those looking for a true fighting game, but with the openness off the battle arenas and the team based gameplay there’s a lot to focus your mind on rather than epic amounts of button combinations.