Fighting Games Friday: The Arrival of Dragon Ball FighterZ

The release of Dragon Ball FighterZ today is a landmark moment for both the fighting game community and Dragon Ball fans, particularly those who are part of both groups. For years, they’ve been asking for another serious Dragon Ball fighter developed by a renowned fighting game team, one that could be the best example of its kind despite the franchise having several good fighting game adaptations. Previous notable examples include SNES Super Butoden games and Hyper Dimension from Bandai, Super Dragon Ball Z from Crafts & Meister, and the Budokai games and Burst Limit from Dimps. This one, however, is very likely the best of them.

That’s certainly the opinion of critics who played it for their reviews, as FighterZ is now the best-rated Dragon Ball game thus far. Those who played the beta and are playing the full game now agree with that conclusion, and that it’s also one of the best Arc System Works games overall. You can pin that on the level of polish and its dazzling presentation, as it’s easily the highest-profile and highest-budget game in the developer’s history up until now. It also helps that it’s not as difficult to get into compared to other fighting games, making it friendly enough for Dragon Ball fans who may not be too experienced with the genre. But note how I didn’t say it was “easy,” because all traditional fighting games are technical and have a serious learning curve if players want to master them.

It’s been a month since I’ve posted about FighterZ, and more information about the game was provided in the interim. The biggest was the reveal of the final character on the initial non-DLC roster: Android 21. She was previously confirmed as a central antagonist in the Story Mode, though the question of whether she was actually playable remained until this. But there was no way she wouldn’t be playable, especially given the sheer number of fans who were smitten with her at first sight. However, she uses a different form for battle, one that somewhat channels Buu.

Like many other characters in the playable cast, she has an array of quick techniques and energy blasts for her special and super attacks. One of her key special attacks is the Tasting Cut Ultimate Attack, a command grab where she’ll drain some of the opponents’ energy and take one of their attacks; which attack she’ll take depends on how she grabs them. She can get Goku’s Kamehameha, for instance, or Goku Black’s Solar Flare. Another notable technique is her Sweet Tooth super, where she’ll turn the opponent into a sweet snack and eat a portion of them. What they’ll turn into depends on the character, as some will turn into doughnuts while others into a piece of cake. 21 is the only original character, but she fits into the Dragon Ball universe well.

Android 21 has to be unlocked before she can be played, which players can do by simply finishing the Story Mode. Unlocking the Super Saiyan Blue (or Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan) versions of Goku and Vegeta is slightly tougher, no surprise considering that early unlock codes for both were provided as preorder bonuses, though it can be done in two ways. SSB Goku and Vegeta can be unlocked by achieving an A-Rank in the Extreme Gravity Spaceship Course and the Hyberbolic Time Chamber Course, respectively, on the hardest difficulties. They can also be obtained by paying 500,000 Zeni for SSB Goku and 300,000 Zeni for SSB Vegeta. Reports suggest that this isn’t easy, but it’s not too hard either.

FighterZ also has a $35 Season Pass, where eight characters will be added to the game throughout the year. There’s no word on when they’ll start revealing the characters who will be among them, or who the characters could be, but they should start showing them soon. Hopefully none of the characters are alternate versions of currently-available ones, though I’d be okay with someone like, say, Android 17 being made a separate character. Perhaps the first one could be announced at Evo Japan 2018 this weekend.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of cheering at how fanservice-laden FighterZ’s Dramatic scenes are — and I’m talking about fanservice of the non-skeevy variety here. These are shown at the beginning of some matches between characters, and if a character finishes an opponent with just the right attack; they’ll lead to scenes reminiscent of similar encounters from the series. For instance, one can play between Goku and Frieza, which channels the end of their battle in Dragon Ball Z’s Frieza Saga. There’s another one between Trunks and Frieza that recreates their encounter. However, other Dramatic cutscenes are revenge encounters, like one that triggers when Yamcha defeats Nappa in a special way. There are plenty in the game, but a good sampling of them from the betas are on YouTube.

If you purchased the game or plan on purchasing it, enjoy the hell out of it. Bandai Namco and Arc System Works should reveal their DLC plans soon, and hopefully they’re worth the rather-high cost they’re charging.

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