by Liam Edwards
reviewed on X360
80 and counting
Since it’s explosion back in Japan circa 1980, Dragon Ball (and then Dragon Ball Z, followed by the non-canon, Dragon Ball GT) has become a world-wide phenomenon. If you are unfamiliar with the adventures of Goku and the Z warriors you had too have lived in a cave for 20 years or been one of the very few who disliked the series. Dragon Ball Z ranks among those hitters such as Pokemon as a series that is known by millions. And such is the curse that, with popularity as large as Z’s, spin-off merchandise would follow, especially games.
Out there in the world (which Goku by the way has saved countless times), there are in estimates about 80 Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT titles released since the 80s. All forms and genres have been exploited with the Dragon Ball name, RPGs, Beat em’ ups, 2D and 3D fighting titles, puzzle titles and even an MMO. But nothing attracted fans of the series and video-game players more than 2002’s release, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. The 2D fighter was the biggest hit in both Japan and the western world in terms of review scores and sales charts. The Budokai series then gained the reputation as the ultimate Dragon Ball experience and gained a heavy fan following allowing for the spawning of Budokai, 2, 3, Budokai Tenkaichi, 2, 3 and then the most recent iterations Raging Blast, 2 and Burst Limit.
The story of Dragon Ball games is long-winded and ending up a history lesson because of the sheer volume of them. But alas it is with no surprise and almost certainty that 2011’s Dragon Ball title has arrived. This time in the form of Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi created by well known Dragon Ball game developers Spike, creators of the Raging Blast titles and Budokai Tenkaichi series of games.
The Ultimate Tenkaichi?
If you have played any of the Dragon Ball titles within the last 10 years you will know what is expected in terms of modes, characters and features. The only thing that ever changes in any Dragon Ball game is the combat system. Over the years each game has evolved different styles and focused on bringing out the best in one element. One game may focus on the melee system and another on the blast battles. With these different changes every addition seems to have also harnessed another problem. Frustrating camera angles, impossible counter-attacking systems and repetitive hand-to-hand combat are just some of the problems that have reared their ugly heads in recent Dragon Ball titles. Although what is certain about Ultimate Tenkaichi’s combat is it is definitely different to all of its predecessors, but it isn’t a flawless experience that eliminates such problems that have been seen in the past.
Ultimate Tenkaichi features combat that is heavily based around 50-50 chances and counter-attacking your opponent. Pressing the same button as your opponent, pressing the same direction as your opponent, mashing a button faster than your opponent, these are all elements of the UT gameplay that appear much too often. Although it allows for flashy fighting and some intense final moments as to whether you guessed the same button as your opponent. The combat is centred around two main phases or sections. The melee range, is a range both combatants enter when in close enough proximity to each other. Within this phase both players can only rush attack and use melee attacks. The rush attack is the main form of melee and it’s a simple three button press in sequence. If each attack hits, the players then enter a slow motion mode, where they have to press either X or Y and Square or Triangle, depending on the console. If the player being attacked guesses the same button as the attacker they perform a counter attack. If however the attacker follows through and presses a different button, they are then able to follow up with a continual attack by simply pressing a direction and the button they originally pressed. This serious combo can lead to doing vast amounts of damage to your opponent, all the while building up the spirit gauge for larger attacks later.
The melee is not deep, and there isn’t anything in the form of combos. The melee all comes down to which player can get a hit in first, there isn’t any skill involved at all. But the simplistic fighting style allows anybody to be able to enjoy flashy combos and intense fights between even the most experienced Budokai players. The next phase of combat is the blast phase.
The blast phase allows players to shoot beams and blasts at each other, and perform ultimate attacks from the series. You can enter the blast range by double tapping A (X) when you have enough ki energy. To gain ki energy you have to charge your character up, once you have enough energy you can perform certain moves such as blocks, intercepts and dashes. But in melee range if you double tap A (X) you can perform a dash out of melee into blast range. When doing this the character will shoot ki blasts towards the opponent, then another quick guess begins with the opponent having to guess which direction on the left stick you will press. If they guess wrong all the beams hit them and your spirit gauge fills more. If they get it correct they shoot a bigger beam causing damage to you.
Provides some classic fun for fans of the series. And simple flashy fighting.
Repetitive and sometimes boring. Also 50-50 fighting chances appear way too much.