Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi
It is once again time to style your banana-cluster-esque hairdo and get yer Kamehamehas on. Tenkaichi is back, and this time it's apparantly rather ultimate!///// To say that Spike and Namco Bandai has finally delivered the Dragon Ball game we've all been waiting for would be a stretch. To say that it will still sell like lasagnas at a Garfield party (still relevant, people!), wouldn't be. Now, to clear things up - we got the Dragon Ball Z: Budokais, which specialize in close quarters combat, and we got the Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichis, which simplifies and already rather simple fighting system, but adds ranged combat and large arenas, where you can freely fly around. One could call the Budokai games actual fighting games and Tenkaichi games "Dragon Ball" games (and thats a trademark), the latter being in a league of its own. All alone. So if you're looking for a true fighter, BOY are you gonna be dissappointed. But if you understand the difference: Read on!///// To quickly go over the fighting system, X is for melee/light fireballs, and Y is for more powerful attacks/strong fireballs. By double-tapping A your character will jump in/out of melee-range/blast range - ie. close-quarters classic fighting gameplay and the trademark Tenkaichi gameplay where you can fly freely and bombard your opponent with energy blasts. Super attacks are activated by pressing either up or down on the right stick and when you got all the ki and spirit you need, you can press in the right stick to unleash a devastating ultimate attack. Not exactly Mensa stuff. In fact, much of the fighting seems more like activating cut scenes through a few button-presses and then just watching your dude go hay-wire. However, to prevent impromptu naps or apathy, the game does throw in lots of quick time events during fights. Press the correct button (out of two, making it completely luck based), and you will land your combo or stop your opponents combo and so on. And to make things even more accesible - every character has the exact same moves. And every fight plays out in the same fashion.///// Like pretty much all other DBZ games, Tenkaichi offers tournament modes, vs, story mode - plus the all new hero mode. The story mode let's you relive the entire Dragon Ball Z saga (again), through delicious HD clips from the anime aaaaaand text. Now, I love Dragon Ball Z - the humor, the ferocius fights, the art-style, the story - the whole she-bang, so WHO, in their right mind, had the idea that most of the story should be told through slowly scrolling text?? Give us some drawings, still-pictures or SOMETHING. But here's the thing.. if it really HAS to be text, why in the world did they pull in Takeshi from accounting to write the whole damn thing? At least get someone who can write english with a bit of finesse. Throw in some adjectives, keep a dictionary handy, perhaps ask a collegue if the latest paragraph made any sense. They really couldn't have made the Dragon Ball Z story seem more dull and incomprehensible. It may not seem like too big of a deal in the beginning, but as you progress through the lenghty saga, it becomes increasingly annoying and you may find yourself re-reading parts of the story, just to confirm how incompetently written it all is. Sorry, but that just ain't good enough. Elementary school level english skills and loading-screen extravanganza (adding a capsule-shooting mini-game does not mask the fact the game loads waaay too much, Spike) aside - the story mode is actually quite nice. There's an open world to fly around in, where you can find Dragon Balls and take on Saibamen, besides traveling to the next "story-trigger". The game also does a nice job of pacing things and adding the odd boss fight or chase-sequence, so it doesn't just feel like an endless string of one-on-one showdowns. The all new Hero Mode let's you create your own DBZ hero and take him through an alternate story. The character-creator may not be the deepest around, but it's still fun to toy around with.///// Now, I know what you're asking: "Honestly - is this any fun at all?". Well, let me answer THAT with a question of my own: "Do you like Dragon Ball?". If yes, then sure! Though the mechanics are extremely simple, it feels different enough from just an anemic fighting game, to catch your attention, and the speed, violence and in-your-face cinematography the show is known for, has never been recreated more satisfyingly. It can be discussed how much you're actually doing yourself in the game as opposed to how much you're just triggering, but there can be no denying, that despite all the coin-flip style quick-time-events you DO have to know what you're doing. Timing is the essence here, not memorizing combo-strings or pulling off thumb-busting moves on your controller. So for fans, it IS quite fun and addictive - and sounds and looks juuuust right. If you don't like Dragon Ball and you made it this far into the review, I apologize. You have wasted your time utterly and nothing you do will ever bring it back. Feel free to unzip your pants again and return to what the internet is really all about. ///// This still isn't the game we've all been waiting for (a 2-D style anime-fighter made by the Blaz Blue team - am I right, people???), but if you like the subject, you may just have a... wait for it... ball!