Rock the Dragon
There have been countless video game entries to the Dragon Ball franchise, and while many have become known as being fantastic Dragon Ball products, FigherZ comes blasting in to stand as the franchises first truly incredible game.
FighterZ decides to forgo the usual DBZ game route of recounting the events of the series in exchange for a new original story that involves the Z warriors going up against a new, terrifying antagonist, Android 21.
The gang get separated after a horde of clones appear, wreaking havoc across the world and causing strange waves to be emitted into the air. This causes the warriors to lose all their power, with their only ray of hope being a strange soul that has been trapped in Goku’s body. With its help, they begin their search to find a way to save the world.
FighterZ story is silly to say the least, with many of the story beats just being an excuse for characters to meet up in a location so they can battle it out. And yet, there’s something oddly charming about it. It gives off the same vibe and atmosphere as the movies did, where everyone should be alarmed at the situation at hand, and yet they all find a way to have a laugh at the same time.
Plus, thanks to the story not being tied to any source material, it allows plenty of freedom for the characters. This leads to probably the best thing about FigherZ story, the interactions between all the characters.
Pretty much all the big players in the DBZ universe show up at some point in the story, and often they cross paths with one another. This gives way to plenty of well written fan service in the form of characters talking about some of the more “out there” aspects of Dragon Ball.
Moments such as Goku and Gohan thinking about what their fusion name would be, or having Yamcha try to talk smack to Frieza only to get shot down, are some of the most entertaining things a Dragon Ball fan can witness.
And seeing Krillin lose his care-free attitude when he sees his wife in danger will give even a passing fan goosebumps.
But that’s where the real driving force for playing the story lies. Aside from the unforgettable exchanges between characters, the story mode itself is riddled with padding issues. This is largely due to the games map system, where the player has to move around a board-like map to get to their destination, fighting wave after wave of clones along the way.
This brings the games fast pace to a grinding halt, forcing the player to fight the same small pool of clones over and over again. And while there are a few times characters may have a quick chat beforehand, it doesn’t change the fact you’re fighting the same faces over and over.
Luckily, there are other modes outside of the game’s story, and this is where FigherZ really shines. The games menus are presented in a small world for the player to run around in as an adorable chibi avatar, and it’s here where all of the games other modes can be found.
Here you can find the games arcade mode, where the player fights a select number of battles of increasing difficulty to earn money and unlock new characters (spoilers: There aren’t that many to unlock).
There’s also the games practice mode that allows players to gain an understanding of the games complex fighting systems, as well as hone their combat skills.
But multiplayer is the name of the game in FigherZ, with a variety of different match types available to select from the hub world.There are fighting game standards, such as casual and ranked matches.
Here players duke it out in 3v3 matches to earn points and gain zeni they can spend in the games shop to unlock new lobby avatars, character colours and stickers.
However, the real star of the show is arena match mode that allow players to go toe-to-toe to prove their might against other players in a tournament. Players fight to decide who’s the strongest fighter among them, and whenever they aren’t busy laying the beat down on their opponent, they can watch matches and cheer on using emotes and stickers.
The game does a fantastic job at making the player feel like part of a community while they fight, and having people cheer you on gives an authentic Dragon Ball experience. They’re basically your own hype men! And now all of the server issues from the beta are gone, you can have them cheer you on without any worries of being disconnected!
As fun as they are, menus aren’t all there is to FigherZ. Really it’s all about the fighting.
While we covered some of the fighting basics and mechanics in our preview, now the full games out we can talk about some of the other stand out characters in the game. FighterZ is a rare gem in the fact there are no useless characters in the rooster. While there are some top tier and lower tier characters, everyone can hold their own in a fight.
Characters such as Goku and Vegeta are brilliant picks for fighting game freshmen, allowing the player to rely on simple, easy to use combos to get the job done. But then there are characters like Captain Ginyu and Android 18 who introduce the assist character mechanic, and suddenly a whole new world is opened up for the player to experiment with.
But the real stand out characters are the more technical ones. Gohan (Adult) and Hit will most likely become known in the community as two of the most powerful characters in the game. In the right hands of course.
Gohan’s ability to strengthen his base attacks with his special gives him an advantage the more he’s used in battle, and when the player finally manages to get him to his max level of 7, he can deal out insane amounts of damage that would leave even Beerus quaking in his boots.
Then there’s Hit, who brings with him the ability to counter enemy attacks while also having a super dash that can warp behind enemies and confuse them. While he’s a tricky fighter to get to grips with, once the player understands the rhythm to which he fights, he can become an almost untouchable beast that can wipe the floor with his enemies corpses.
Once the game begins to circulate around events and pro tournaments, it’ll be exciting to see how these characters are handled by professionals, as well as see how they get woven into the metagame.
Aside from a few blemishes, FighterZ stands atop the pantheon of Dragon Ball Z games. With an entertaining story, fine tuned fighting combat, and an art style that looks like the manga come to life, Dragon Ball FigherZ is not only the best Dragon Ball Z game, but is also one of the greatest fighting games released to date.
Should you play Dragon Ball FighterZ?
Thanks to Bandai Namco for supplying a review copy