As I stepped into the Dragon Ball Z for Kinect station, I thought about which character I wanted to play as. While Goku and Piccolo were already available, I also had QR codes that I could scan to unlock either Yamcha or Frieza as playable characters. If you hold a card in front of the Kinect sensor for five seconds, you can add them to your game. Even though I scanned two characters in, I decided I had to go with one of the classics and picked my favorite Namekian – Piccolo.
Before the match began, there was a brief loading screen which was more like a tutorial. Piccolo had two special attacks, Destructive Wave and Special Beam Cannon. While the game was loading, it taught me the movements I’d have to use to perform these attacks. To do Special Beam Cannon, I had to hold my right hand to my face with the first two fingers up and then punch forward. Destructive Wave was simpler. All I had to do was hold my right arm out, palm facing up, with my left arm at an angle and my left hand on my right elbow. Before I could show the game I knew how to perform a Destructive Wave, the battle began.
Raditz had just arrived and was looking for Goku, but was more than happy to beat up Piccolo since he was standing there. I wasn’t going to let that happen! I put my left arm on my right elbow, shoved my right hand out and waited for the magic to happen. Destructive Wave!
… but I didn’t have enough chi to use a special move.
A gauge on the left side of the screen shows the stances for the two special moves. To perform a Destructive Wave, you have to crouch and store chi all the way to the halfway point to get enough power for the attack. If I filled the gauge to the maximum, I could use a Special Beam Cannon. The left side of the screen showed what move the game thought I was performing. The demo seemed to be accurately tracking my movements and I wanted to try something special, but Raditz was closing in so I figured it was time to attack.
I started rapidly punching at the screen. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect understood and launched into an automatic combo. Piccolo would automatically do a more powerful finishing attack if I did a flurry of punches, paused, did a second flurry, paused (again!), and then a third flurry. I could also kick or uppercut to deal out more damage.
Raditz moved back from Piccolo and my attacks couldn’t reach him. I noticed Dragon Ball Z for Kinect could recognize jumps, so I leapt. Piccolo instantly flew away from Raditz. Now when I punched, I shot energy blasts that would home in on Raditz. If I held my fist back for a moment before punching, the blast would hit harder.
Raditz had pretty much been a punching bag for most of the demo, but suddenly he started to attack back. Two images flashed on screen, one directing me to duck and the other to lift my right leg back. I ducked, and Piccolo dodged Raditz’s attack before retaliating with a counterattack. At this point, the number at the bottom right corner of the screen was dangerously low, which let me know I could finish Raditz off for the win. I crouched down, built up power and launched the best Special Beam Cannon attack ever. I basked in my glory, then scurried to find my bottle of water.
It isn’t uncommon for a single Dragon Ball Z battle to stretch out across two or three anime episodes. While the Dragon Ball Z for Kinect fights aren’t quite that long, it sure feels like that. I timed my match with Piccolo against Raditz and it came in just over seven minutes of constant punching, kicking, dodging, jumping, and posing. However, it felt like I had been fighting for at least 15 minutes.
Of course, there’s another thing to consider – Raditz wasn’t really fighting back. I only had to duck or evade his attacks twice. This left me wondering how long a match in the full version of Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is going to stretch out, even if someone selects a lower difficulty level. If the demo is any indication, I guess the upside is it’ll make a lot of kids sleep better.
In a few months you’ll be able to experience Dragon Ball Z for Kinect for yourselves. Namco Bandai says they’ll have it available as an Xbox 360 exclusive in North America and Europe by October 2012.