Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z Review: Goku and chums pack a punch

The anime series Dragon Ball Z has been around since 1989 spawning multiple games on multiple systems over the years. While the majority of these titles have mainly followed the main series and have been one-on-one fighters, there have been a few games over the years that have been slightly different from their previous cookiecutter counterparts. Enter Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, which follows the main story of the Z fighters, but adds a small twist: You can pick teams of four during the campaign, some of which would not of been there in the original version. While to some fans, this may prove a disappointment, it also means you can have alternative storylines on the go.

The main feature of Battle of Z is its support for four vs. four online, but as mentioned before, you have four people in the main campaign, which means for the first time on a console, you have a DBZ game with four-player co-op. The main campaign starts at the Saiyan Saga, as Goku fights off his brother Radditz, and goes all the way up to the newest movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of The Gods, which has not had an official European or U.S. release at this time. Due to this, the character list is huge, ranging from the main hero Goku to Kid Buu, totaling 70 combatants, including DLC. The only slight issue with this number is that half of them are the same character with only marginal differences.

In terms of gameplay, one of the best features for me personally is the card system. As you win fights, you unlock cards which can be used to customize your team or your favourite character, making them unique and allowing you to build them up in the way you prefer to fight. Still, their original abilities cannot be changed, which somewhat limits your customization. You can also purchase cards after fights using PP, which is gained from giving energy after some fights. These cards always have the same stats, making it easier to keep your team balanced, but one of the cool features is that once a week there are new bonus cards added, which have unique effects or are incredibly powerful. These cards also cost a lot of PP, so you need to play a lot to be able to get them.


Meanwhile, a robust difficulty is mainly due to poor teammate AI. Support characters won’t help you as much as a normal person playing would, which can cause some frustration, though the fact you can play the entire campaign online helps with this issue. However, this still leaves those who don’t have access to the Internet or just simply don’t want to play online with some problems later on in the game. Battle for Z also has a command system, which uses the directional buttons to tell teammates what to use most, and though you can’t control their individual actions, you can suggest to either go full-out offense or defense. Frankly, apart from a few fights, I mainly just told them to stay defensive so that if I did get knocked out, there was a higher chance of being revived.

The graphics are very impressive, and they certainly don’t seem to be pushing PS3 hardware–for being this late in the generation, it’s a bit of shame. Nonetheless, they still have a good anime-style look to them with an impressive amount of detail, while the environments are incredibly varied, with a decent number places to explore. Meanwhile, the PS Vita version of the game holds up very well, with a decent framerate and all the features of the console version. Battle of Z also features a solid soundtrack, and though some of the show’s original voice actors are absent, I didn’t mind the new voices so much. Lip-syncing issues are a bigger distraction.

A note on cross-platform functions: Battle of Z has Cross-Save features so if you play on PS3, you can upload your save file and then download on your PS Vita, or vice versa. This would be nice if the game came with Cross-Buy, as experiencing these features comes at considerable cost otherwise.

The strange lack of offline multiplayer is also very confusing, as this is something that I’ve come to expect as a staple to the series, especially for this game’s heavy co-op emphasis.

Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is very enjoyable and far from the series’ worst entries to date. Plugging away allows one to move past surface-level flaws and find an inventive fighter that packs quite a gameplay punch.



The Final Word

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z packs quite the punch, offering an interesting take on the franchise lore with an extensive character line-up and a great co-op campaign.