Review: Dragon Ball “It’s over 9000”

Courtesy Bandai Namco

With midterms upon us and the majority of the student body yearning for some distraction, my break from studying and infrequent existential crises has been Dragon Ball Fighter Y. It is true that this generations favourite anime has once again produced a fighter, and this time it is not in the third-dimension. The game features a cast of 25 characters: some are tried and true heroes like Goku and some are relatively new, drawing from the new Dragonball Super show like the character Beerus.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z has been a huge hit recently, and a lot of this is attributed to the games stunning art style, easy bread and butter combos, and high skill ceiling. It is easy to go online and get decimated by someone who knows every combo string to date. It is also easy to get button mashed to death by someone who just picked up the game ((which may or may not have happened to me and I may or may not still be salty about it). “Auto combos,”  a result of mashing the same button X amount of times, are common throughout the game but won’t cut it if you’re trying to take your game to the next level. There is so much content and depth to this game that exclusively button mashing takes away so much of what this game has to offer.

Frenetic three versus three battles makes gameplay forever creative as experimenting with new teams keeps things fresh. The assist system in which you can call in another character to use an attack, extend combos, or just switch out characters to preserve the health of a more important character. Assists, when used to their fullest potential can cost an opponent half their health bar — sometimes even more. Professional eSports players are able to delete someones health bar in just one interaction. Its worth noting this exact system has made Dragon Ball Fighter Z look like a reskinned version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 which features many similar gameplay mechanics. A lot of mechanics cross over between the two games but the new features really add a depth to the game.

Supers, sparking, vanish, Summoning Shenron? All of these are gameplay mechanics that not only enrich the gameplay but also make the player feel close to having as much power as a Super Saiyen. Supers are great ways of finishing combos with a traditional fighter input of a quarter circle. Vanishing is a way of teleporting and attacking your opponent from behind which can be used to close space, or bait an opponent. Sparking is something that be used once per game, giving you a temporary damage buff, faster health regeneration, and is a way to build your ki meter incredibly fast. Summoning shenron, who you may know as the giant green dragon that appears after collecting all the dragon balls, is a feature that was such an amazing way to fuse gameplay with the Dragon Ball story. After completing a high enough combo and obtaining a maximum ki meter the dragon grants you one of four wishes; to bring back an ally from the dead, restore your health bar, give you maximum ki meter, or restore some of your health and grant your character health regeneration for the rest of the game. This was such an amazing tie in because it is so difficult to accomplish that it gives you the sense of journey as anyone trying to find the dragon balls within the actual lore. 

The ki meter is what experienced players use and abuse the most, and is really what separates a casual player from a competitive player. For example, a newer player may start a combo, and finish with a super expending one bar of their ki meter, while a more experienced player may opt to finish a combo and try to reset the combo by using their assists and opt to save their meter in a more strategic way. The meter is an incredibly useful resource; it can get you out of combos, extend combos, finish combos, and initiate combos.

With the recent release of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite and the trainwreck that it is, Dragon Ball Fighter Z has given fans another game that they can pour their time and effort into, and it is immaculately executed. While taking a lot from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Dragon Ball Fighter Z has proven that as of now, it can provide the best tag-team 2-D fighting experience on the market. Fighting games can be the most challenging games to excel at, but also the most rewarding. Grinding out a combo in training mode to get the timing just perfect can be tedious and downright exhausting. However, when you are in a match and you finally execute that combo that you thought you never could, you have only yourself to thank.