Goku Ultra Instinct_2 Dragon Ball Sparking Zero
Image via Bandai Namco

Preview: Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero is Bottled Nostalgia

During Summer Game Fest 2024, I was given the opportunity to play Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero. While I was given a limited number of characters to choose from, that didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable. The cel-shaded characters look fantastic, and having the English voice cast reprise their roles made jumping into it all the more exciting somehow. It felt like being a kid again, eager to watch how the Cell Saga would unfold or what new power level Goku, Vegeta, or Gohan would unlock in some miraculous turn of events.

Recommended Videos

Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero is every bit a fresh entry in the Budokai Tenkaichi series down to the controls. Everything is simplified, with attacks and dodges being easy to execute in comparison to Dragon Ball FighterZ. Instead, players navigate a 3D space where they can move to the side to avoid blasts, teleport behind their opponents, or ascend and descend through massive environments. What makes it different from its predecessors, however, is the Sparking system, which allows for you to perform a special attack associated with the character you’re controlling. You need to charge your ki in order to perform this skill, along with anything that isn’t just a quick jab or a kick, so you need to make sure you’re in the clear to avoid taking damage or getting absolutely destroyed by your opponent.

Image via Bandai Namco

There were several moments where I audibly shouted in excitement as I triggered environmental effects that included the destruction of the World Martial Arts Tournament stage as Majin Vegeta when using Final Explosion. (Yes, if you use Final Explosion you can, in fact, K.O. yourself.) Or when I was able to fuse Goku and Vegeta to create Gogeta to pummel Buu into the ground. Moments like these make Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero exciting. While I wasn’t entirely sure how I managed to fuse Goku and Vegeta, other than the requirement being that the versions you select are from the same arc, it was still exciting.

Other than triggering these effects and fusions I spent a lot of time constructing teams that were accurate to certain showdowns in the Cell and Buu Saga. I played as Android 17 with Android 18 as my secondary character against Goku, Yamcha, and Piccolo. I blew myself up as Majin Vegeta while fighting Buu. But just to test the general strength of characters I also just picked a whole slew of Goku to fight Golden Frieza and Beerus.

Image via Bandai Namco

I was informed that not all of the characters are balanced, but they were instead made to be accurate to their appearances in the Dragon Ball series. This meant characters like Mr. Satan would not be able to fly. Additionally, characters like Golden Frieza and Beerus would be exceptionally powerful. However, this didn’t stop me. I managed to beat the CPU with little effort, but I still found the game fun and these little skirmishes were great to learn the base mechanics of Sparking Zero.

Everything I’ve seen has me extremely hopeful for the full release of Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero. Even with the limited amount of characters we were given, the game was great. It was everything I remembered about Budokai Tenkaichi, and encapsulated the feeling of turning on my GameCube and squaring up against my friends. Bandai Namco has more than certainly captured nostalgia in a bottle, and while Sparking Zero may not turn out to be the most balanced fighter, it sure is a hell of a lot of fun.

Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero will come to the PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC worldwide, and its official release date is October 11, 2024. The official website is also live now.

Siliconera is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Kazuma Hashimoto
Kazuma Hashimoto
Senior staff writer, translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs. Having spent upwards of 6 years in the industry, he has written reviews, features, guides, with work extending within the industry itself. In his spare time he speedruns games from the Resident Evil series, and raids in Final Fantasy XIV. His work, which has included in-depth features focusing on cultural analysis, has been seen on other websites such as Polygon and IGN.