When it comes to considering Dragon Ball Z, it seems there are two distinctly opposite frames of mind: There are those who are absolutely ga-ga over it, and those who wouldn't consider going near it. I happen to be in the rather unique position of being totally indifferent toward it. I simply appreciate the show for what it is: bizarre, wacky Japanese anime.
That said, I'm going to attack this review from two differing perspectives: that of a hardcore fan of the show and that of a hardcore fan of fighting games. See which side you relate with.
Dragon Ball Z Fan: Sweet! A DBZ fighting game featuring 23 of my favorite DBZ characters.
Fighting Game Fan: It's a solid-looking 3D fighter, so I'm game.
DBZ Fan: The graphics look great! I love seeing all of my favorite characters in 3D!
FG Fan: The characters do look great, but those backgrounds are stale.
DBZ Fan: I like how you can destroy the environments and open new areas.
FG Fan: I liked this game better when it was called Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore.
DBZ Fan: How about Akira Toriyama's cool character designs? Gotta love those.
FG Fan: Uh
why does that guy have a tail? And, um, where exactly is he sticking it?
DBZ Fan: At least all of the television show's voice actors did the voices here.
FG Fan: OK, the voice acting is actually pretty good by game standards.
DBZ Fan: The branching Story mode is also great! Several story lines from the show have been redone in 3D. They look even better than the originals.
FG Fan: No wonder these guys all have weird spiky hairdosif I was surrounded by absurd narratives like this all the time, I'd be yanking at my hair, too!
DBZ Fan: Well, it's really cool how the Story mode teaches you lots of tactics, not to mention mixes things up with minigames.
FG Fan: Yeah, that I agree with. Minigames are always fun.
DBZ Fan: The battle system is also very solid. The mechanics may be a tad simplistic, but the combo system is quite deep. I also like how you can earn skills as you go.
FG Fan: Yeah, the fighting engine works well, and the earning skills part is cool. But isn't it kind of weak that the button combinations for moves are the same for each character?
DBZ Fan: Matches will even progress into the air, just like on the show!
FG Fan: Yeah, but this does nothing to change the actual dynamics of the fight. Plus, it's annoying that this occurs only when an enemy pummels you into the air.
DBZ Fan: You can also trade skills with your friends.
FG Fan: You go, Pokémon.
DBZ Fan: You can even collect the seven Dragon Balls to earn more powerful skills.
FG Fan: I don't need to be collecting any balls.
DBZ Fan: This is the best DBZ game ever!
FG Fan: It is the best DBZ game ever, but that's not saying much. Dragon Ball GT Final Bout for the PS1 was utter crap.
DBZ Fan: Either way, this is a must-own for Dragon Ball Z fans. It may not be the greatest fighting game ever, but it remains completely faithful to the source material and offers lots of replay value. It really does feel like you're playing the show. I give it a 4.
FG Fan: I'll admit, I was surprised at how deep the game is, and I actually enjoyed the Story mode, despite all the oddball characters. There's even a healthy challenge to be found here. It's an overall solid fighting game that gets a 3 from me.