What Does the Scouter Say About It’s Power Level?
Given the surge of third party support for Nintendo Switch and the successful Xenoverse 2 port, it was only a matter of time before Bandai Namco would announce Dragon Ball FighterZ on Switch. Featuring all of the features and DLC of previously released versions (for a fee of course), Dragon Ball FighterZ contends well against its powerhouse competitors, without losing any of its sheen and feel.
For the uninitiated, FighterZ is a 2D fighter featuring 3-on-3 team battles. Much like ARC System Works’ cult classic BlazBlue franchise, FighterZ recreates Dragon Ball’s anime presentation almost perfectly with its unique animation and cell shading texture mapping features. The original release of FighterZ featured simple to use controls for maximum inclusion of casual and professional audiences. However, this was backed up with an emphasis on individual character move sets and tagging in and’out to overthrow opponents.
Half the fun of Dragon Ball FighterZ is finding the synergy in fighters to create a well-balanced team. For example; Super Saiyan Goku is brilliant for bouncing enemies off the screen boundaries to setup a tag team air combo with a character like Beerus, to then have a heavy hitter like Broly or Goku Black to clear up the mess afterwards.
My Switch has Been Charging for 10 Episodes…
Fights include a power meter, health meter, rage mode meter and a timer. Dragon Balls can be collected during bouts by pulling off certain moves and meeting hidden conditions to gain an insane upper-hand. Rage mode toggles a generic powered up state that heighten defensive and offensive capabilities, though this reviewer doesn’t want to spoil the experience too much!
Story mode is a great way to get used to the controls and different ways to utilise the fighters, not to mention the optional built-in training mode found during some fights. Whilst the story mode’s difficulty isn’t exactly an issue, the focus here is narrative. Dragon Ball fans haven’t had a solid or brand new arc in a game since, well. OK, so maybe never. Past games have always utilised a movie or series cannon in some shape or form, be that the time travelling story mechanics of the amazing Xenoverse series or the alternative story arcs of the Raging Blast series.
Whilst the canon value of FighterZ is currently uncertain, this reviewer hopes the added lore will be held in high regard at a later date. Maybe a new skin for Broly after his re-write releases?
You Fool! This Isn’t Even my Final Form!
Touching again on control options; Dragon Ball FighterZ for Nintendo Switch has been marketed as a party game of sorts. This is mainly carried by the simplified single-JoyCon control option for local multiplayer. Whilst this mode is pulled off without a hitch, it simply isn’t as entertaining having major attacks mapped to the JoyCon shoulder buttons. Furthermore, playing Dragon Ball FighterZ in handheld mode can get uncomfortable 30 – 45 minutes in. This reviewer would recommend a table top mode with a Pro Controller setup for the best experience.
This is the full-fat FighterZ experience. Upon first loading the game, the hub-world introduction returns and does a successful job of showing players around the game’s various modes. These include:
- Story Mode
- Multiplayer Mode
- Arcade Mode
- World Tournament Mode
- Item Shop
- Training Mode
During playthough, one noticed the excessive load times before fights and loading a game mode in both handheld and docked mode. Though equally terrible on other formats, this reviewer has a hard time justifying them due to the content in-game. Although this was an initial bugbear, FighterZ repays patience with an awesome and satisfying experience.
Multiplayer Super Hyper Bouten Tenkaichi Shin Budokai
Multiplayer mode match-made and held connectivity with next to no lag throughout this review. Even providing a very satisfying experience over a 4G connection while waiting for the train home. Players be warned; there are some incredible fighters online who know movesets inside and out. Initial punters will probably lose more than they win while learning FighterZ’s various strategies. But as previously mentioned, it’s very easy to pick up and get going with, so no worries there!
Arcade mode is a simple never-ending slew of fighters with increasing difficulty, perfect for nailing that teleport-to-Kamehameha move. This reviewer actually spent more time trying to hone his skills (getting battered) in this mode than any other.
World Tournament mode is something most fans would expect from a Dragon Ball game, pitting dream-team matchups against each other, whilst also featuring a few modes within to help mix things up. Items and Zeni (currency) are also up for grabs, enabling you to buy new avatars, skins and power-ups from FighterZ’s item shop – a simple affair that does what it needs to.
A Hyperbolic Time Chamber?
Training mode puts players in a Street Fighter style white gridded room with a chosen opponent, giving DB fans the time and space to let those combos sink in, and build up muscle memory. Whilst it is a helpful tool to have in any fighter, this reviewer preferred running at continuous brick walls for moves to embed themselves during online and offline play.
The roster for FighterZ is still growing (32 characters including DLC) with the addition of non-canon characters such as Broly and Cooler. It includes fighters from Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, which is just a big bundle of awesome for any Dragon Ball fan. There are also some brilliant Easter eggs to be found, including Krillin’s rock throw move, as a nod to his inferiority against the rest of the Z Fighters. It’s also nice to see base forms of Goku and Vegeta to remind fans of just how awesome the Saiyan saga actually was.
Just Like the Anime
Dragon Ball FighterZ is lovingly presented with fully realised set pieces and locations from both Z and Super culminating in over 40 maps. Each map comes complete with destructive finishes and changing environments dependent on match conditions. By meeting certain conditions, it’s even possible to unlock cut scenes that reinact legendary Z and Super moments in ‘Dramatic Finishes’ (that first time Goku turned Super Saiyan though?!)
FighterZ also features an amazing original soundtrack composed by Toshiyuki Kishi, Hiromi Mizutani, Kenji Katoh and Reno. Whilst FighterZ stays away from rehashing and featuring original music (Bruce Faulconer was the man!), the OST overall feels cheesy and J-Rock enough to fit right into the series, whilst at the same time maintaining a blanket of arcade nostalgia. The sound effects, such as power blasts and background effects, are lifted straight from the anime for an added element of authenticity. What this reviewer found most impressive was the return of the full Japanese and US voice acting casts. Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat and co. are an incredible addition, with the original cast adding yet another layer of authenticity and Saiyan pride.
Graphics and Presentation: 4.7 / 5
Gameplay: 4.9 / 5
Sound: 4.5 / 5
Overall Score: 4.7 / 5.0
In all honesty, Dragon Ball FighterZ is the best DB beat ’em up fans have been spoilt with in years. Only the likes of Budokai 3 and Budokai Tenkaichi 3 hold up in this regard. Every fighter has their own playstyle whilst not compromising balance. This reviewer hopes this isn’t the last time that ArcSys lays their magical mits on the Dragon Ball franchise. But if it is, this DB fan can die happy.
Seriously though, I don’t want to die. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is out at the end of the year!
Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: £49.99 (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: 28/09/2018 (Switch eShop)
Age Rating: 12
Review copy provided by publisher