Portable Saiyans | Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden Review
The Dragon Ball Z series is no stranger when it comes to fighting games. The popular anime and manga series is about fighting, so that genre is the easiest to transpose the franchise onto. That’s why it’s appeared on just about every popular system since the series’ popularity began, but this marks the first time a DBZ fighter is playable on the 3DS. The game is a 2D fighter developed by Arc System Works, the same development studio behind the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series. But how well does the game compare to those fighters and can it stand on it’s own?
Fights are a bit different than “normal” fighting games. The flashy special moves can be done by inputting a string of button presses; usually YYYYXA. If all of the button presses land on the opponent, this will launch a character’s unique move. The Y and X button are the traditional attacks while the A button does an energy blast. The B button is the evade, the L button is the special button and the R button charges your meter.
Different moves take different amounts of meter. Out of the gate, characters can charge up to 150% meter. Characters can hit 200% once they are “awakened,” which happens when the character is low on health. It’s a great comeback mechanic that doesn’t feel overly cheap like the X factor in Marvel vs Capcom 3. Fights aren’t as fast I would have expected in a DBZ game. All of the characters have a weight to them that feels a bit clunky. It’s not bad, per se. The fights are quick, so they don’t drag on too long.
The biggest draw to this game is the team mechanic. There are slots for three playable characters. However, if you choose to go with just one or two playable characters, then you can select more characters as an assist. So you can have Goku and Vegeta as your two playable characters and then select Chi-Chi and Oolong as your assist characters. Or you can just go it alone with Buu. It’s pretty cool and it reminds me of Skullgirls, except for the scaling power/health. It would have been a lot better had the playable roster been bigger. The assist roster is quite large, but the playable characters left me wanting.
There are about 20 characters unlocked from the start, but a lot of them are “duplicates.” Goku’s base form and Super Saiyan 1 form are two separate characters. The same with Vegeta. And strangely enough, There is no character for anything above SS1, but there are four different Gohan characters (kid, SS kid, unleashed, and SS teen). I can understand the “need” for having different characters for SS versions of chracters as the game uses 2D sprites it would be tons of work to get characters to change forms mid fight. However, the roster for the assist characters are a lot more expansive. Especially with characters from Dragonball, Dragonball GT, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, and the more recent DBZ movies. The second screen comes into play here as that’s how you can switch characters out. I found it pretty comfortable to easily switch between characters in the thick of a fight.
While the game is light when it comes to the roster, it does have a variety of modes.; Z Story, Adventure Mode, Extreme World Tournament, Battle Mode, Versus Mode, and Quest mode. The Quest most is mostly about exchanging StreetPass hits by way of a card that records your wins/losses and some other information. Battle Mode lets players go against the computer in a custom match. Versus is the same but instead of against the computer it’s against other players. The Z Story mode is similar to an Arcade mode. It’s 10 fights set to a story. There are different stories here focusing on one character. Of course, before you can unlock other character stories, you need to play through the entirety of the DBZ story yet again. Luckily, it is done very quickly often just going to certain highlights.
There’s a little bit of dialogue between characters before and after the story that sets up the events, which is true with the other story modes. Each story has 10 fights and you can exit out after each fight if you need. Adventure Mode is where a lot of the content is held and where the assist characters are unlocked. Unfortunately, there are no assist characters unlocked from the beginning and must be unlocked in this mode. It follows Goku as he needs to hunt the Dragonballs because there is a rip in space-time causing villains from the past to show up in the present. Each stage lets you unlock different things based on your rating.
The game lends itself well to small bursts of play, but it’s not something I’ll probably spend an extended amount of time with. The team battles are pretty cool and the use of the touchscreen to swap them out on the fly is fantastic. However, the limited playable roster is rather disappointing, but the assists are actually varied and a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a fighter with a robust gameplay experience, Dragonball Z: Extreme Butoden isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something to play in quick bursts, then I could recommend this game. If you’re a Dragonball Z fan, I would probably still recommend it. It’s not going to rock your dragon, but it’s a great way to kill some time.