This past E3, a Cinderalla story started formed around Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball Z fighting game, efficiently named Dragon Ball FighterZ. Comparisons to other fighting games flattered Dragon Ball, but the game is impressive all on its own, and it continues to look and play far better than you would think a licensed fighting game could.
The build I played featured the newly announced Androids 18 and 16, along with Piccolo and Krillin who were announced a few weeks prior but haven’t been playable until now. I kept coming back to the table where FighterZ was set up just to get a few more rounds in.
I can’t say at this point that FighterZ is the best fighting game I have ever played, but it is one of the most fun times I have had playing a fighting game.
The Legend of Shenron
I am a big Dragon Ball fan and have been one for years. In terms of long-lasting childhood heroes, the adventures of Goku and his compatriots have stuck with me throughout my life. Even today, as I habitually sit down to watch Dragon Ball Super every week, I think about how important the series has been to my media consumption habits. This affection for the license makes me appreciate the little details of Dragon Ball FighterZ even more.
There are small things here and there – Krillin sometimes throwing a Senzu Bean to heal himself or others, animal people in the Tenkaichi audience, moves and animations taken directly from manga panels for maximum accuracy, but all of it contributes to this feeling of making Dragon Ball fans feel at home. This game is way more than just fanservice, but every little detail elevates the game higher for fans.
The Path To Power
Whether you’re a fighting game expert or you’ve never touched a game like it before, playing FighterZ feels incredibly natural for any skill level. Players who want to come in and mash buttons can do it with a significant level of competence. This is not to say the game is random, but execution is not necessarily the singular key, as a player good at covering their attacks with assists for safety or playing mind games with their opponent will succeed more often than a player who isn’t. A game about Dragon Ball is likely to have a different audience than a Guilty Gear title, so the easier executions mostly based on quarter-circle movements will open it up for more people to play it well.
The Legendary Super Saiyan
Suffice it to say, every single character in FighterZ is incredibly gorgeous. Building off the same cel-shaded technology utilized in their Guilty Gear Xrd games, Arc System Works has created a fantastic 3D engine that looks and feels like 2D sprites. FighterZ looks exactly like the television show, or rather, what I remember the television show looking like. All of the fighters have every bit of their smarm, arrogance, naivete, and determination in their facial animations, never mind the pixel-perfect accuracy in their clothes and designs. It transcends fanservice and makes a legitimate argument for being the best-looking fighting game out there.
Battle of Gods
Both Androids 16 and 18 incorporate grabs into their arsenal, which is a little less common for the punch-and-beam-happy rest of the cast. Android 18 also does not work alone, adding her brother Android 17 into the mix in special moves and her Level 3 Super move. It might end up being a little disappointing for 17 fans who wanted him in the game, but he is pretty fundamental to his sister’s moveset.
Android 16 is the grappler of the game, moving a little bit more slowly than most other characters, but making up for it with super armor and grabs that do heavy damage to opponents. It can be annoying to swat away faster characters who are zooming in and zooming out, but it only takes one strong throw to even the health up. The tall, statuesque Android also features a one-hit KO move where he grabs the opponent and explodes, marking the only time outside of Yamcha that self-destruction has accomplished its goal.
Piccolo and Krillin were also available, with both characters playing a bit more similarly to the rest of the cast. Instead of a ki blast button, Piccolo’s arm extends out to grab opponents and pull them in for hard combos. He also has the ability to teleport behind the opponent at will with a backwards elbow, sending them bouncing against the side of the screen. Krillin has a special move where he summons a rock to throw, which will sometimes instead be a senzu bean. In the source material, a senzu bean heals a wounded fighter completely, which it more or less does in FighterZ, as well. The problem is that anyone can use the bean Krillin throws, so if he isn’t quick to grab it or tag to someone who can, he merely ends up healing his opponent.
I left FighterZ just wanting to play more of the game. It may be the most enraptured I have been with a fighter in a long time. I keep thinking about how, in one match, I used Goku’s Kamehameha super against the opponent, who teleported behind me to kick me in the back, and I quickly tagged into Freeza who came in with a super that punished my opponent, all in the span of maybe two seconds. I also keep thinking about the time I accidentally threw a senzu bean at Trunks and lost the match. I keep thinking about FighterZ a lot, and its release next year feels like an eternity away.
Beta Test Dragon Ball FighterZ’s Power Level Is Off The Charts