We are smack dab in the middle of E3, which would be Christmas for gamers if Christmas itself didn’t already exist. All of our favorite studios are out in full force, wielding big swinging teraflops and thrusting new and powerful devices in our faces in desperate attempts to wrest our money from the other guys. A console is only as good as the games on it, and nestled quietly between Fishing Fantasy, Spider-Man: Arkham Asylum, Dad of War, Pretty Racing Game, and Anthem (too good for jokes) is what I feel is the most pleasant surprise of the whole show, Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Published by Bandai Namco and developed by Arc System Works, the braintrust behind insane fighters like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a glimpse at what My Favorite Things would be like if I sang it instead of Julie Andrews. Like Marvel Vs. Capcom? Like Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3? Well, how would you feel if those things had a beautiful next-gen baby?
Many DBZ games have come out since Budokai 3, such as weird third-person quasi-fighter Budokai Tenkaichi and weird third-person quasi-MMO fighter Xenoverse, but none of them have captured the essence of the show and manga the way Budokai 3 did. While the story is mostly another recap of the series (a pitfall of virtually all DBZ games), the character customization and fighting itself more than make up for this. Combat is fast and intense, raw but polished, and each character feels just like they should, from the unmatched power of Omega Shenron to the dumpster fire of Hercule. The game is a stunning fighting masterpiece as well as legitimately the best DBZ game ever made.
Now, take all of that, keep it in a two-dimensional space, dramatically amp up the visuals, and add in 3 Vs. 3 teams like in MVC with crossover attacks and everything, and you’ve got a recipe for something special again.
Precious little information is known about the game, beyond the fighting style, which feels much closer to Guilty Gear than to Budokai 3 (though closer to Budokai 3 than any other DBZ game). Combo your opponent around the screen, chuck energy blasts everywhere, and lock them down until their fighter is KOed and replaced by another from their team. You can tag out one of your battered fighters for another on the team, or you can simply call them in to throw a blast at your opponent while you power up. The more meters you build up, the more blasts and transformations and teleports you can perform. These features are likely familiar to MVC fans, but this is the first time they’ve been seen in a DBZ game and they’re killer.
The only revealed maps thus far are the World Tournament Arena and Namek; the only revealed characters are Super Saiyan Goku, Super Saiyan Vegeta, Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, Final Form Frieza, Fat Buu, and Perfect Cell (an obvious and unforgivable oversight is the exclusion of Yamcha from the demo). Even with such a major exclusion from the initial marketing push, the game itself looks like a total blast (pun probably intended) and is very likely to find a forever home in my collection alongside Budokai 3 and MVC.
Stay tuned to Nerd Union for more coverage of Dragon Ball FighterZ as we get closer to the game’s planned release in early 2018!
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