Sunday, August 30, 2015

DEMO-lition: Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoken

Video Game DEMO First Look
I did say that I would check out the demo to a Dragon Ball fighting game for the 3DS last week. Well here it is, the latest Dragon Ball game "Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoken." A word of warning though, I am not a Dragon Ball fan. The only episode of Dragon Ball Z I have ever seen started with Goku running along Snake Way and ended with Goku running along Snake Way, and figured that was all I needed to know about the series. Thus my only information about DBZ comes from Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Hopefully, that is enough for me to get through this first look at the Extreme Butoken Demo.

Sadly, Vegeta doesn't have the option of having a Mu-stache.
Extreme Butoken is developed by Arc System Works, the same company behind Guilty Gear, BlazBlu, and Persona 4 Arena, so 2D sprite based fighters is kind of their thing. In the demo there is only 2 modes, VS the Computer or VS other Players locally. Since I'm a lonely bastard who can't get any friends even if I pay them, I was stuck fighting against the Computer. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this Demo is the fact that there is no Tutorial or Practice mode available. The only way to learn how to play the game is to go through the eManual and then hope the Computer doesn't die or interrupt you as you try to figure out this game. But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. There are 4 fighters available, Goku, Gohan (Kid), Vegeta and Majin Buu, with 8 assists, whom I'm not going to name because I don't know half of them. How it works is that you have 3 slots for characters, each slot can be filled with one Fighter or two Assists and since you have to have at least one Fighter the team configurations are 1 Fighter and 4 Assists, 2 Fighters and 2 Assists, or 3 Fighters. You can access these character in battle through the touch screen with Assists coming in for a single action and Fighters coming in to tag. What's interesting is that each character has a point value assigned to them and any team is valid so long as their total points doesn't exceed 35. Already this is screaming "THIS GAME ISN'T BALANCED!" since you know that on the roster there is going to be characters that in of themselves cost 35 points (I mean this is Dragon Ball) and I'm worried that characters who's point value is under 10 for Fighters and 5 for Assists are going to be worthless in the full game.

"Broken and crushed underneath an unconscious child. Yeah, I'm done here."
The Fighting system works like this. You have three attack buttons, Light Attack, Heavy Attack, and Special Attack (which is often some sort of Ki-Blast), the other buttons are an Evade and a Charge button (Because Dragon Ball). However, combos and special moves are where things get interesting and at the same time a little frustrating. First of all, there are no special commands. There are no Quarter Circles, no Shoryuken movements, no nothing. All a Special move is is hold down L and hit one of the Attack Buttons. Hitting Light or Heavy does two standard specials, while hitting the Special Attack button unleashes the character's signature move or a portion of your "Spirit Gauge." With each character I notice that they are all some form of beam attack, of course this is probably a limitation with basing a game on Dragon Ball. However combos are probably the weakest part of the game. Going through the manual and testing it out in game it seems every character has the same combo strings. 5 Light attack is a combo, 2 Heavy attacks is a combo, and like 3 lights, 2 heavies, and a Special is a combo that all of these fighters have and that last one knocks the character up in the air and throws a beam attack that can only be done at the end of this particular combo. From that point on (or at least until you do that same combo again) you'll be fighting in the air. What's different about fighting in the air? Absolutely NOTHING! Character's still jump, fall, and "hit the ground" in the same fashion as they do on the ground. You can't even do strategies where one person is in the air while the other is grounded, because they are always fighting on the same plane.

And this is why I think this game might not be that good: Nothing feels unique. None of the characters available feels special or have something that makes them uniquely them. You can play Goku the exact same way as Vegeta or Gohan. Majin Buu might be a little bit different because of his larger sprite and slower movements, but that's about it. Nothing about any of these characters make them stand out or play differently, which is a death sentence for a fighting game. All Fighting games are about characters who have very different play styles and strategies facing off against each other in a test of player skill and knowledge about the tools each character has available to them. Here it feels like everyone has been made using the same mold and it comes out boring that way. Maybe the full game is going to unique character, I mean it is Dragon Ball, there is a small nation's worth of characters to choose from (even if half of them are going to be different versions of the same people). But as a first impression, Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoken really didn't impress me, which is a shame because the 3DS could use more Fighting games. I mean, right now it's just ports of other games and Smash Bros. But to be fair, Smash Bros does cover a lot of needs.

Until Next Time.

-CRES, "I sense five power levels, they are extremely strong and extremely Flamboyant."

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