Dragon Ball Z is one of the most beloved anime franchises in the western world. The expansive amount of content in the universe just begs to be turned into a video game. Battle of Z is the latest Dragon Ball game to grace our eyes, but is it worth charging you Ki for? Or should you teleport away?
Let’s get things straight, Dragon Ball Z doesn’t give a care about the chronology of the Dragon Ball universe, and instead focuses on having action packed four VS four battles across multiple points in time during the original Dragon Ball Z series. There’s a short piece of text prior to every mission that gives a little back story to the scene, but it hardly does the job on explaining what’s going on. It’s clear that this game was made for serious fans of the show, but manages to alienate anyone who’s new to it.
But fighting is what Battle of Z focuses on, and fighting is what you get. The game has the player pick a team of any four characters, even four of the same character (so yes, my first instinct was to make an all pink team Nappa) before heading into battle to reenact scenes from the famous show. Story battles can feature any character providing that they are on the same side of good or evil, but characters like Vegeta work in any team. The combat is limiting, with only one attack button and four special moves per character it feels like every character never gets to use the wide repertoire that they have in the show. The basics of the combat are explained in a short tutorial, but important information such as commanding allies and performing teleport dodges are left completely for the player to find out. It feels like the game wants players to have an exciting time, but fails to give them enough training to fully enjoy themselves.
The combat is also extremely repetitive. Hammering the same button over and over can easily bore most players, and having the enemy teleport away from your long combo can be aggravating. But there’s something strange about the combat in Battle of Z, while it is repetitive and heavily restrictive, it’s also strangely addictive and pleasurable. The game is so unapologetic in its stupidity that you start to go along with it, start to laugh at the banter between characters on the field, and ignore the fact that it’s painfully easy, all because it’s just a fun time.
One thing anime games of late have been able to get right are the graphics and aesthetics. The taglines often read out that it looks “just like the anime!” But I’ve never seen it like that, I’ve always envisioned these games as the same way that I imagined action figures fighting when I was younger, all flying around and crashing into each other, fighting to the death on wide open planes. That’s what Battle of Z looks like, as if someone had taken highly detailed action figures of the cast of Dragon Ball and had them fight out like every 7 year old imagined. It plays to the nostalgia of young adults playing and taps into the childlike wonder that they managed to create so many years ago.
Dragon Ball Z Battle of Z isn’t the best Dragon Ball Z game out there, but it’s by no means bad. Battle of Z is in that sweet spot that, if you can get behind what it’s trying to do, then you’re going to have a great time smashing enemies into the ground. But for people looking for the next complex and in-depth fighter, you may want to look elsewhere. Dragon Ball Z Battle of Z knows it’s silly and it doesn’t care, and I can’t help but love it for that.
This review was originally posted on Gaming Capacity