Who am I? A lover of the video game industry. I read about video games more than I play them. The various aspects and mechanics of design are what really intrigue me, and it's always fun to have a healthy debate about them.
Ah Dragon Ball Z. Arguably the most famous anime of all time (itís only real competition being Pokťmon), and still insanely popular. Thereís something cathartic about watching two grown, muscular, shirtless men beat each otherÖthat came out wrong, didnít it? Anyways, thereís only one problem with this series- thereís never been any great DBZ games! At best, we have Budokai 3, which is still pretty good. This is something that needs to be fixed! Letís take look at what the past games did right.
This is the thing you see first. Good graphics do not make a game, but they certainly add to the experience. Now, Iíve seen reviewers and fans alike like the most recent gamesí visuals the best. The games Iím referring to are Raging Blast 2 and Ultimate Tenkaichi. HoweverÖI have to disagree. They certainly both look good, but my favorite game of the series, in terms of art direction, is the first Raging Blast.
The reason is pretty simple- it looks the most like the show did. Rather than the smoother, more complex shading styles of the other two games, Raging Blast has some pretty damn good cel-shading thatís clean and colorful. If Iím playing a DBZ game, I want it to look and feel like a DBZ game. Thereís only one flaw in this game, which is shared by the other two also- the mouth movements. The way the faces are animated are justÖoff. I canít explain whatís wrong with them, exactly, but they do look wrong. Fix that problem and do a little touching up on the visuals and youíd have the best looking Dragon Ball game yet.
Most DBZ games have had pretty decent soundtracks, which work well when fighting to. However, my request is pretty simple- I want the music from the show playing. I think this is something Ultimate Tenkaichi did, but letís go a step further. All opening and ending themes, as well as Kikuchiís score. Not only that, but how about an option to switch to the old Funimation score as well? I canít be the only one thatíd like to hear Rock the Dragon again or duke it out to some classic Faulconer music.
This is obviously the most important part of a fighting game. Well, arguably the second most important in the case of a Dragon Ball game. There are two styles of DBZ games- the pure fighting game, like all games up to Budokai 3, and then there is what some like to call the DBZ-simulator, the Tenkaichi style of gameplay. And even though the simulator style is closer to the show, it isnít really that good. Ideally, the next DBZ game will use Budokai 3 as its base.
Itís been a while since Iíve played Budokai 3, but I clearly remember it as the best. There was Infinite World, but Iím pretty sure that had some issues of its own. Budokai 3 doesnít need much fixing. It does have some QTEs in it, but those occur mostly during special moves or when attacks clash, which I feel fits the game well. I would remove Dragon Rush, however, considering that it is essentially a game of chance.
Everything here is mostly obvious. You need to have the standard fighting game stuff, like Arcade, Training, and obviously Versus. Throw in the standard DBZ story mode and World Tournament modes, and youíve matched every DBZ game in existence.
What I really want to see, though, is a character creation mode. Not that half-assed effort put forth by Ultimate Tenkaichi, but an honest-to-goodness character creation mode, at least on par with the PS2-era WWE games. Give use a variety of body type options, letting us be as short as Guldo or taller than Super Buu. Various clothing options, as well as other accessories. Give us some stats to change for the character, as well as a selection of moves from the ones already in the game. AndÖthatís pretty much it. I just want to be able to make my own characters to use in a DBZ game. Hell, give me a character creator that doesnít suck and Iíd probably buy the game anyways.
Before I move on, one minor note regarding the story mode- weíve seen the DBZ story a thousand times now. Why not change it up a bit, like Budokai 2 did? Which leads me toÖ
Letís get some What-if scenarios in this game. Probably Budokai 3ís biggest flaw was how it was a step back in this regard. The first Budokai, for example, gave us Super Saiyan Vegeta on earth, Freeza winning, and a Cell that absorbed Krillin. Budokai 2 kicked it up a notch further by offering a variety of fusion options, as well as letting Buu absorb a bunch of different people. Then Budokai 3 comes in withÖnothing. The story mode deviated some from the show, and was pretty enjoyable on its own, but there were no interesting characters unique to the game. Itís a good way to inject some humor into the game, and allows us to explore the possibilities that didnít happen in the show. What if Goku and Mr. Satan actually fused? What if Raditz was given a second chance, like Piccolo and Vegeta?
What if Namco Bandai made a great Dragon Ball game for once?