Did Dragonball FighterZ live up to the hype?! “On the Next Level” Review!!

Developer(s): Arc System Works
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco
Platforms(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release dates: January 26 (WW), February 1 (JP)
Genres: Fighting

It has happened. We have gotten the Dragon Ball game we fans have waited for. Dragonball FighterZ is one of the most anticipated games for 2018 and rightfully so. The latest release in the Bandai Namco series based on Akira Toriyama’s action saga brings the fighting back to the 2D plane for the first time since the 1996 title “Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension” for the Super Famicom. The game borrows directly for “Marvel vs Capcom” by allowing up to three fighters to be selected. Players can switch characters on the fly allowing their injured ally to recover their strength. Teammates can be called in to assist with attacking opponents. Dragonball FighterZ features the universal “Vanish” and “Dragon Rush” moves which resemble the Roman Cancel system commonly found in Arc System Works games and Guilty Gear Xrd’s Dust attacks respectively, while the “Super Dash” move resembles the Homing system of Arcana Heart. Players can also “Ki Charge” to manually increase their super meter, similar to previous Dragon Ball fighting games and another well known Bandai Namco anime game series, “Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm.” Another interesting feature is “Come on Shenron” in which players can gather Dragon Balls through continuously attacking their opponents. Once Shenron is summoned, the player will be given one of four wishes: increasing their fighter’s strength, revive a fallen ally, recover a fighter’s health or increase resistance to damage. The “Dramatic Finish” mode is another feature in which fighters use an attack to finish off their specific enemy which then triggers a cutscene related to the “Dragon Ball” series.

Arc System Works is known for creating graphically impressive titles that are close to anime accurate. This is evident with their BlazBlue and Guilty Gear titles. Dragonball FighterZ follows that same suit. The characters and backgrounds are near perfect to the anime and the fast-paced action brings the battles to life. Goku’s “Kamehameha Wave”, Vegeta’s “Final Flash” and Frieza’s “Death Ball” look absolutely stunning thanks to the Unreal Engine 4. Dragonball FighterZ has a lobby similar to that of “Dragon Ball Xenoverse” where players gather to take on missions, battle other players, purchase items and upgrades, and take part in the game’s story mode. Players can also battle online where they can increase their character level through subsequent wins.

Android 21 is the main antagonist in Story Mode. She is a game original character created by Akira Toriyama

The Japanese and English cast all appear in the game to voice their respective characters. An original storyline has been created for the game as well as a new character, Android 21, conceived by Akira Toriyama himself. It should be noted that this is the final Dragon Ball related project to feature actress Hiromi Tsuru, voice of Bulma, who died unexpectedly in November 2017. Dragonball FighterZ handles beautifully with quick response controls and smooth animation. The combos and moves are easy to pull off so that even novice players can have a shot, and the battle sounds are crystal clear. With this and the character intro cutscenes, you feel like you are apart of the action. I found no issues with the controls and moving my character around the stage is a joy. My only gripe would be the online participation, notably competing in online battles. I found myself quickly knocked out of the system or not being able to access online battle portion of the game. Hopefully, this issue gets resolved soon because online gaming is the norm now when it comes to fighting games and Dragonball FighterZ is best enjoyed with others.

Overall, Dragonball FighterZ is on par to be the best game in the series. This fighting title captures the intense battles and over the top action that has made the Dragon Ball series one of the most beloved anime series out there. I highly recommend this game for any fan of Akira Toriyama’s manga and those who wish to hear Hiromi Tsuru as Bulma one last time. With all these new additions, intriguing storyline and an impressive cast of characters, Dragonball FighterZ has certainly lived up to the expectations of Dragon Ball fans and fighting game enthusiasts alike.

Myself included.

Until then, I’ll see you “On the Next Level!”