Dragon Ball FighterZ Switch Review

The Dragon Ball renaissance is a miracle that suspends all disbelief. Dragon Ball Super has done what many seemed to many considered impossible. It has revived a franchise that for all intents and purposes had passed its prime. It has rekindled old flames and introduced a whole new generation into the magical world of Dragon Ball. With an exciting feature film around the corner and the possibility of a new series follow-up to Super, never has there been a better to be a Dragon Ball fan. It simply is a glorious time for Son Goku and Friends. This sentiment resonates true especially if you are a Dragon Ball fan, a gamer and enjoy a high octane fighting game with the advent of Dragon Ball fighterZ. Dragon Ball FighterZ – which released earlier this year for console and PC, makes a confident claim to the best Dragon Ball game ever and one of the best fighting games on the market right now. And with the recent release of Dragon Ball FighterZ for the Nintendo Switch things just keeps getting better for DB fans.

Anime tie-in-games get a bad wrap among the gaming community and rightfully so. Anime licensed games are often shallow cash grabs, concerned more in making money than providing quality experiences. Games such as Budokai Tenkaichi and Ultimate Ninja Storm, while decent don’t go above and beyond, relying more on brand name and licensing to carry them through to financial success. Surprisingly, Dragon Ball FighterZ breaks from this mold, as it is an exceptionally good game, not only for anime licensed game, but stand respectfully as a standalone fighter. Developed by Arc Systems Works, who’s resume boasts the highly acclaimed Guilty Gear and Blaz Blue series, it is no wonder that Dragon Ball FighterZ is of a high pedigree.

Those who have played Marvel Vs Capcom will find Dragon Ball FighterZ instantly familiar. Figther Z is at essence a 3vs3 Tag team fighter with its core elements derived from traditional roots. From Light to Heavy attacks, quarter circle inputs, meters and supers – the fundamentals are all here. If you have played the household names like Streetfighter then you have the basics down. While very similar to its counterparts, FighterZ isn’t a just a Dragon Ball reskin of Marverl Vs Capcom, it does introduces unique ideas, quirks and flavors to the formula which ultimately distinguishes itself apart from the rest. What was instantly apparent was the numerous movement options. A variety vertical and horizontal movement and even the ability to instantly teleport behind your opponent provide additional mix-ups and give a way out from being cornered. The typical grabs you would see from other fighters are replaced by dragon rushes which are a flurry of attacks that beats guards. What’s so clever are that all these ideas play within the rules of the Dragon Ball Universe and only in the Dragon Ball Universe would they make sense.

Arc Systems Work strikes a nice balance between accessibility and depth. The fighting genre typically have difficult drawing and retaining new players due to a high learning curve, I dont believe FighterZ has this problem. Dragon Ball FighterZ falls somewhere between Street Fighter (hard to master) and Budokai (casual figher). One reason attributing to this is the idea of Auto-combo’s. As the name may suggest – by pressing the Medium attack consecutively – new players are able to pull of devastating combo’s with little to no investment in practice or rote learning a difficult sequence of inputs. It really is as simply pressing a button to unleash a flurry of attacks. While on paper it does sound like a simplification, Dragon Ball FighterZ has plenty of depth to offer. I, for one, have yet to grasp all the nuances of the system and I regularly get my ass handed over to me online. There is so many things in FighterZ that I have yet to grasp – let alone master – and  I can say with confidence that there is a good fighting game that can be enjoyed by both casuals and fighting game aficionados.

What instantly strikes me is how incredibly well Arc System Works nails the presentation of Dragon Ball FighterZ. Everything from the visual style, the animation, the sound design and the voice works is perfect. I could tell an incredible amount of reverence was made towards the presentation in order reflect the source material and the efforts paid off in millions. The art design is a true reflection of the anime. The character models look great, the animation is sleek and fluid and you even have a choice to use either the Japanese and English voice actors. Small touches like how things sound exactly like the anime just show the attention and love that went into the development. As a package, Dragon Ball FighterZ is just one big love letter to fans.

Dragon Ball FighterZ has a respectable playable roster with 24 fighter available from the base game and 8 additional characters obtainable from paid DLC. All your favorite characters 9the one you would expect at least) are playable characters in Dragon Ball FighterZ. Goku, Vegito, Gohan and Mr Piccolo are all here and as well as you favorite villains such as Freeza, Kid Buu and Cell. Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased that a number of cooler characters were locked behind a paywall. Honestly, a total of 8 paid DLC characters (which is a third of the total playable character count) comes off as a greedy cash grab.  I would have appreciated that at least base Goku and Vegeta had been available for the base game, or at least give us SSBSS Vegito or Cooler for free.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a meaty game with a admirable amount of content for players to dig their claws in. All your standards affairs are present in one form or another in FighterZ such as Arcade, Free Play and Training. Of course there is online play, which I suspect most players will spend there time inside the lobby testing there mantle and skill against players around the world. From my experience, Online multiplayer is very solid. Most matches ran smoothly and I could always find an opponent. On occasion I did run into problems with lag and disconnection, however, this is something that is expected.

FigtherZ does have a story mode which comes complete with a fleshed Villain Arc. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say the narrative unfolds  like a typically Saga from Dragon Ball. Dissapointingly, most of the story mode plays out like a glorified tutorial with the main goal to introduce players to the games mechanics. You go from one match to another completing tutorials until deeper into the story. It honestly was a grind to get to the end and the presentation of the story doesn’t help encourage players to progress further. The cutscenes are presented through stiff and awkward animations which is antithetic to the anime and the game itself. I concede that it is might definitely down to a budgeting issue, but it did leave a sour taste in my mouth.

By the time Dragon Ball FigterZ finishes its run in the FVGCit will be remembered as an outstanding fighting game and perhaps will go down as the best Dragon Ball game thus far. FighterZ has delivers what it promises. A tight, deep, but yet accessible fighting game experience with plenty of fan service for Dragon Ball fans. It is a must buy in my books and a welcome addition to the Switches ever growing library.

A purchased Copy of Dragon Ball FighterZ was reviewed. Image courtesy of Namco Bandai.