You would think that a property like Dragon Ball Z would lend itself well to the fighting game genre. Here is an anime that features dozens of characters, plenty of rivalries, all kinds of drama and a whole lot of fighting, if this isn't the perfect recipe for a fighting game then I don't know what is.
From the beginning of time (or at least the birth of the 2D fighting games) company after company has attempted to turn this popular series into the next great video game franchise, unfortunately for fans most of these companies have failed. Atari is one of the few companies to get the Dragon Ball Z license right; they are just coming off of several well-received games in their Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series and looking for another winner.
Super Dragon Ball Z is a Dragon Ball Z game for those of us who grew up playing games like Street Fighter II, Tekken and Soul Calibur. Of all the Dragon Ball Z games released worldwide, Super Dragon Ball Z is definitely the easiest to classify; it's a good old fashioned fighting game the way they used to be made in the 1990s. You will still find all of the over-the-top action you've come to know and love from the Dragon Ball Z series, only this time it's fit into the confines of a serious fighting game.
Super Dragon Ball Z is an arcade fighting game straight from Japan. It's developed by Craft & Meister, a new company headed by none other than Street Fighter II producer Noritaka Funamizu. It takes everybody's love for traditional 3D fighting games and combines that with just enough Dragon Ball Z characters. The final results add up to a fun fighting game that is easy to get into but probably won't take you away from your copy of Soul Calibur III or Dead or Alive 4.
Super Dragon Ball Z features a roster of 18 different characters, including twelve from the original Japanese arcade game and six brand new combatants added just for this home version. You'll get a nice mix of popular characters, including Goku, Trunks, Frieza, Vegeta, Gohan and Piccolo. From the get-go you can select from twelve different characters, the other six are locked away just waiting for you to earn them.
Fighting game fans won't have any trouble figuring out what to do, Super Dragon Ball Z feels like a cross between the best elements of Street Fighter II, Tekken and several other fighters I couldn't place. Most of the fireballs and special moves are pulled off just like they would if you were playing Ryu and Ken instead of Goku and Trunks. But just because this plays like Street Fighter II doesn't mean you should expect six separate buttons for kicks and punches, in fact, Super Dragon Ball Z only features two attack buttons. Along with the weak and strong attacks is a block button and a button you can use for jumping or hovering (depending on which character you select).
Each character features a number of special moves, throws, combos and powerful attacks. This just wouldn't be a Dragon Ball Z game without a character throwing a fireball that takes up the entire size of your television. The moves found in this game are really fun to watch and are the highlight of the experience. At its core this may feel like Tekken or Street Fighter, but you'll know it's a Dragon Ball Z game when you start seeing all the stuff being thrown at the players.
Take away all of the flashy energy beams and explosions and you have a painfully average fighting game. The hand-to-hand combat feels a little sloppy and the overall flow of the game just can't hold its own against the bigger (and dare I say it, better) fighting games on the market. Each character has a lot of moves to master, but what is missing here is the depth you get in a lot of the other brawlers. That's not to say that Super Dragon Ball Z isn't fun, it's just not in the same caliber as, well, Soul Calibur.
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