Super Dragon Ball Z [超ドラゴンボールZ] is a FIGHTING GAME for the Playstation 2 based on Dragon Ball Z. It was originally an arcade game in Japan and was ported to the PS2. It was designed by the makers of a very popular fighting game: Street Fighter 2. So you know it’s going to be full of awesomeness, right? Read and find out.
First off, there is NO story mode in this game! But, to be honest with you, that’s just fine. How many times must I play through the DB saga? Pretty much every DB game in existence tells the story of Son Gokuu and his sons. So it’s not a huge loss here.
In place of the missing story mode, there are two major modes that you’ll be spending most of your time in: Original and Z-survivor modes. Original mode is more like what you would expect in a fighting game. You fight on various stages and progress through the fighters. Each battle has two or three rounds (depending on if you lose one or not) and you’re allowed to continue. At the end of each battle you win a dragon ball. Also, the strength of the characters you fight don’t vary that much. Z-survivor mode is more less exactly how it sounds; you try to survive against every main character with only one health bar. Each battle consists of one “final” round. At the end of each round there’s a “roulette” where you can get various things (such as a dragon ball, or some of your health back). The battles vary, considerably. Sometimes you’ll fight one character that you could beat in your sleep but the next battle will make you cry to your mommy.
But the real GEM of this game is the ability to create your own character and level him/her up. Granted, it’s a DBZ character (not like you can create your own from scratch or anything) but you’re able to give him/her a name of your own choosing (in kana or English), pick what color you want him/her to wear, and choose what path your character follows when you level up. Do you want your character to have brute strength or to learn a new technique? If you pick the latter, which technique would you like to learn? This mode alone lets you have replayability as you mess around and change the way your character is.
As I mentioned before, you can collect dragon balls. When your character has all 7 you can go to a special mode on the menu where you summon Shenron and are granted a wish. Wishes consist of anything as power ups to your character (such as more stamina), inheriting a move from another character (i.e. being able to use someone else’s move), new characters, new stages, new colors for the clothing and (apparently) a new outfit for the character. In other words, there’s a LOT of stuff. Much of the stuff won’t even show up until you have already done this many times.
Character-wise, not as many as Budokai 3 but more than enough for this title. You start with 12: Gohan, Kuririn, Android 18, Freeza, Son Gokuu, Mirai Trunks, Cell, Vejita, Chichi, Piccolo, Android 16 and Android 17. After one or two battles, Fat Majin Buu will unlock and will be playable. All of the others have to be unlocked via dragon balls. The unlockable characters are: Piccolo Daimaou, Mecha Freeza, Majin Vejita, Gohan in Kaioushin outfit, and Videl (not in that order). From what I’ve seen and tried, each character plays differently. Unlike Budokai 3, which had a crapload of characters but essentially they all played exactly the same, each character in this game feels different. Some are way slower, some are faster. Some are better with brute strength, some are better with ki.
So now that I’ve covered the basic modes and characters involved, you’re probably wondering what the game is actually like. Is it fun? How are the graphics? What about sound and music? How’s the controls?
The graphics on this game look, to me, like an animated manga; more-so than any anime. The loading screens look like the covers of the Japanese DBZ tankoubon volumes. The stages look more like they were taken right out of the manga, as opposed to the anime. The characters are colored more like the manga counterparts and are not as saturated. There’s even sound-effects when you do certain attacks or moves, just like there are in the manga. Personally, I like the graphics. However, I can see why some people are displeased. For a late generation PS2 game, the graphics suffer from a few minor things. You’ll just have to look at some of the pictures and see for yourself.
In Budokais 2 and 3 the openings were characterized by having brand new digital animated scenes. Well, in Super DBZ the opening is done with the use of in-game graphics. It’s not great, it’s not bad. I liked the digital animation in the other two games better, personally.
The sound in this game is Dragon Ball. There is no other way to describe it. The voice actors (Japanese, mind you) sound just like they did when they were recording the show over 10 years ago. The sound effects sound like the show; everything from the whooshing of the SSJ to the sound of Gokuu using shikan idou. It’s all there and it sounds good.
Music… what music? Yeah, in the game there’s music but for a series that has over 500 background tracks, this game is pathetic when it comes to its music. None of it is memorable (even Budokai 3 had better music), and only one song is from the show and even that is a remix that isn’t all that great. Half the time I don’t even notice there’s music playing, and the times I do I almost wish I had it turned off. I’m really disappointed with the music.
I should probably mention that during the opening scene Cha-La 2005 version plays. It’s not bad, to me, but some people really dislike it.
Most of you will recall that in the Budokai series the attacks were a series of buttons and wasn’t really much like an oldschool fighter. Well, this game IS AN OLDSCHOOL FIGHTING GAME! If you like Street Fighter 2, you’ll probably love this game. That’s how close it is to SF2. The game just plays like SF2 does. There are no charging matches. You don’t have to wait for your ki to do anything. Yeah, there’s a special bar and a stamina (action) bar that you have to watch, but even when those are low or empty, you can still do stuff until they build back up. Budokai 3 feels SLOW compared to this game! Every battle is fast paced and if you’re not used to it, you’ll be creamed in no time.
SSJ is in the game, but it acts as a temporary (really temporary, less than 30 seconds long) boost in power. Some of the other series boosts are in it too, such as Kaiou-ken, but they, like SSJ, don’t last long (Kaiou-ken, specifically, only lasts a few seconds and converts some of your life to your special bar). This makes it so it’s not too unbalanced. You don’t have one guy in SSJ4 wailing on you and you’re unable to even go SSJ1, or some equivalent, leaving you without any chance in the world to win.
Something else worthwhile to mention: you can destroy the stage. Literally. Almost everything on the stage is destroyable. That means if there’s a tree in you way, blow it up. A minor hill? Destroy it! Throw your opponent through walls and watch them crumble. Destroy parts of the Budokai ring. I mean, really, pretty much everything is destructable. This gives the game a real DB feel to it, and is just plain cool to watch.
The difficulty on this game.. well, as I mentioned, in the Z-survivor mode it’ll range from “yaaaaawn” to “HOLY CRAP I DIED IN 3 SECONDS!” The latter happens a lot at first, as you’ll be basically powerless to do anything to stop it. You’ll start with no major specials (except for the character’s main move, such as Kamehameha for Gokuu), no bonuses to stats, or anything like that. Expect to die. A lot. Especially in Z-survivor mode.
What else can I say about this game? Would I recommend it? If you’re a DB fan, heck yeah! Even if you’re just a fighting game fan, I’d recommend it as it’s pretty fun for just that. The game IS out in English, though I personally can’t stand the dub voices (hence why I went for the Japanese version; the American version does NOT allow you to pick Japanese voices). However, if that’s not a problem for you, pick it up.
Photos and Videos
I can’t just talk about this game and leave you hanging. So here’s a few pictures that I’ve snapped and two videos that I’ve recorded.