Super Dragon Ball Z is split into only a few different modes, including the original Arcade mode, a Survival mode and Versus mode. The arcade mode works much like it has in every other fighting game you've ever played, you pick a character and then take them through various fights until you beat the boss and get your ending. As you play through the arcade mode you will collect things called "dragon balls" which can be combined to form Shenron, a giant dragon that will grant you a wish.
The other mode in Super Dragon Ball Z is called Z Survival; it's just like any other survival mode in a fighting game that has you fighting as many guys as you can before you run out of health. The big difference in this mode is that you are forced to have your own character card to enter. This means that you will need to go out and pick a character, choose a color and then find a name. Once you've gone through the work of customizing your character it's time to get him (or her, or it) out there and winning some battles. The more you play the more experience points you get, ultimately leveling your character up and gaining new attacks and abilities.
You can use this character card in every different mode in Super Dragon Ball Z, it's the way you keep track of things like the dragon balls and experience points. If you get into the idea of leveling up your characters then this game could conceivably last you for quite a long time. Unfortunately this just seems to mask some of the other short comings in the game, like the fact that there are really only three things to do in Super Dragon Ball Z.
The graphics in this game are actually pretty good, they seem to be inspired more by the Manga series than the TV show (which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned). There's something very simple about the way these characters look and where they choose to do battle, it's a lot more subdued than what you would find in a 30 minute Dragon Ball Z cartoon. The animation also looks pretty good, although I kept trying to compare it to all of those other 3D fighters I play on a regular basis.
While the graphics do a good job of capturing the characters I was a little disappointed by the environments we were in. Super Dragon Ball Z does a good job of taking you to a different looking locale in every stage -- from the city to an alien planet to the middle of nowhere -- but when you get there there's rarely anything worth looking at. Some levels have walls you can bust through, others have trees you can fall just by shooting them, but most of the battle spots in Super Dragon Ball Z are painfully boring with nothing to see. I did enjoy the breakable environments, but a little more detail would have gone a long way.
Fans of the TV show won't be left out, though. Each of the 18 different fighters is voiced by the actor that plays them in the English version of Dragon Ball Z. That means that you will recognize each of the yells, the taunts and even the narrations. Heck, you can even change who narrates this game if you want to. This is the type of thing that fans of the show will no doubt go crazy over, but for people like me (who avoid the TV show) it did nothing more than annoy me. But the obnoxious voice acting (much like the music and sound effects) is easy to ignore.
Despite its problems, Super Dragon Ball Z proves to be a rather likable fighting game that tries real hard to offer something for all of the major fighting game fans around the world. I can't say that it succeeds at its task, but what is offered here is a fun little game that had me coming back time and time again. There's enough content here to recommend this game, it's easy to pick up and both fans and non-fans alike should enjoy all of the over-the-top action found in Super Dragon Ball Z.
There's enough over-the-top action in Super Dragon Ball Z to make this an easy game to recommend for fans of the series, unfortunately fans of modern 3D fighting games may want to look elsewhere for their fix.
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