aka Dragonball Z: Supersonic Warriors outside of Japan.
After the atrocity of Dragonball Z: Taiketsu, the last game to use and abuse the DBZ license you would probably be skeptical of Atari’s upcoming Dragonball Z: Supersonic Warriors. First of all, it is not made by the same team that did Taiketsu. It’s not even made by Atari. Instead the Supersonic Warriors is a renamed and translated version of Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki by Banpresto.
When Banpresto decided to make this game they decided to push the Game Boy Advance’s hardware to its limit. The fighting engine is built so that you can move around in semi-3D. Of course the GBA isn’t built to handle 3D graphics, but Banpresto used the Mode 7 effects in a clever way. When you control your character you see a 2D battle field. You can move left or right and even fly like in a traditional 2D fighter. The huge difference is that you can move into the background or out of the background to move around your enemy. The game uses clever pans of the camera and mode 7 effects to make sprites look like they’re shrinking into the distance. The effect is so fluid it makes the game feel like a 3D fighter with a non-rotating camera. The 3D effect helps capture the frantic and epic battles of Dragonball Z that are difficult to capture.
Speaking of the battles, Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki has many of the classic battles spanning throughout the entire series. The story mode features the three main sagas of Frieza, Cell and Buu. All of these sagas have preset battles for you to fight with cut scenes in between. Fans of the series already know the stories so you can opt to skip through the cut scenes by pressing start. When you get the game you can only play the Frieza saga, after beating that saga you unlock the Cell saga and after that the Buu saga. Besides the three main stories, the story mode has "what if" scenarios such as "what if Frieza beat Goku? or what if Cell beat Gohan?". These separate scenarios can be played through to see how alternate futures played out. Initially, there are only six stories, but there is a "what if" story for every character in the game. You can unlock more what if stories by purchasing them with points earned from playing the game. Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki already offers more depth than other GBA fighters by having so many different story modes. While each story is only a couple of fights, that is a lot more than most games. On top of the story mode there is a survival mode called Z Battle mode where you try to see how many consecutive rounds you can fight before losing. There is also the standard free battle and training modes, which are good for honing your skills. There is even a challenge mode which pits you against extra powerful teams and of course a two player versus mode.
In any mode you’ll be doing one thing fighting another character. Fortunately, the game engine that Bukuu Tougeki is deigned on is a rock solid engine, for the Game Boy Advance. I already mentioned that you can move around and circle around your opponent. You also have two types of standard attacks, light and weak attacks. By pressing these buttons in different orders you can do a combo or as this game calls it a "rush". Attacking enemies increases your energy meter, even if they block. Your energy meter is used to shoot ki blasts at the enemy which can be done by holding R and then pressing B. Energy can also be used to perform the signature Dragonball Z moves like Vegeta’s final flash, Goku’s kamehameha and Trunk’s burning attack. To perform these moves you’ll need to have your energy up to at least 50% and then hold R while pressing A and B. If you want to quickly increase your energy to perform super attacks you need to hold L. When you get your energy all the way up to 100% and do the same movement you’ll do your ultimate ki blast. The type of ki blast used can be changed depending on the angle you’re attacking the enemy at. To prevent people from constantly blocking there is a block meter, that will be drained when you defend yourself from ki blasts or normal hits. When the block meter runs out you’ll take damage even if you’re blocking. The game gives an opportunity to create some amazing combos with its 3 on 3 system. You can quickly switch between characters by pressing L. The switch is instant and doesn’t have any jump in attack like in the Capcom versus games. Another thing is that when you switch characters the new character appears right where the old one was. This means you can start doing a combo with Piccolo switch to Krillin and finish an enemy off with Gohan in the same combo. Each character has their own life bar, but not their own energy meter. Which means you can’t pull off three super ki blasts in a row.
Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki has a decent roster of characters. You would expect to see Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Cell, Frieza and Buu. Also included in the mix are Captain Ginyu, Dr. Gero and Gotenks. On top of having different characters you also have the option of choosing different power levels for the characters. A different power level means different amounts of damage, but more importantly a different super ki attack. Even with all of these variations the main difference between the characters is their special moves. Every character has a simple combination of punches and kicks that automatically combo on each other. Each character also comes with the same dash move, charge move and basic energy blast. The only differences besides their appearance are the two special attacks and minor damage balances. So even when you have a team of three characters, they aren’t three entirely different characters with a complete new set of moves. While the fighting system is fun, die hard fighting fans won’t get too much out of it. You don’t need to master complex juggles or even memorize button movements to be good at this game.
The graphics in the game are phenomenal. As a Game Boy Advance game these graphics rival the awful Ultimate Battle 22 game released for the PsOne. The semi 3D engine is great. The scaling camera is another graphical plus because it makes the backgrounds seem larger than they really are. The sprites are also extremely well done, all of them look like their respected character. If you don’t think that is an achievement take a look at the horrible graphics on Taiketsu and it’ll make this game look so much better. The cut scene sprites are at high quality, too. Enough sprites are made to show various facial expressions and emotions. The animation is in similar quality to the scenes in Dragonball Z: Budokai 2, without the cel shading. The sound in the game compliments the graphics. The familiar show theme is played in the title screen and there are a few other tunes fans should recall. The sound effects aren’t the greatest in the world. They’re your standard smack and hit effects. One thing that makes the game stand out is the addition of voice clips of characters calling out the names of their moves. The voices are a little muffled, but it still is a nice touch.
Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki is something that both fans of the series and the average gamer can both enjoy. This game features one of the best single player modes for a Dragonball Z game ever. The mode also has enough depth that you will get a decent amount of gameplay playing through it. Future developers take note, this is how a Dragonball Z game should be made.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 1
Easy to learn, you can pick up and play. Most of the menus are in English, but the story segments are in Japanese. Even if you don’t understand Japanese you’ll still get a kick out of seeing who fights who in the "what if" side stories.
Dragonball Z: Bukuu Tougeki is going to be renamed Dragonball Z: Supersonic warriors and released in America on May 31st.
+ Pros: 3 on 3 team fighting, in depth story mode with alternate scenarios, excellent graphics, lots to unlock
- Cons: Not many moves per character, simplistic fighting engine
Overall: Fans of the series should jump and pick this up, even though we know they already will. If you like fighting games this is worth checking out too.
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