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Oct. 5, 2006
Super Dragonball Z - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/7/2006AtariCraft and Master1-2PGEasy-Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Screens from the Japanese version.
Dragonball Z is a name that should require no introduction. The manga-turned-anime hit from Japan had kids and adults alike going crazy a few years ago, and even to some extent to this day. A handful of games have come out of the series and most of them have been fairly enjoyable. Super Dragonball Z is the latest fighter to try and put the series into your game collection. And overall, itís a decent game, read on for a more detailed account.

Letís get it out of the way. Thereís no plot. Itís a plain and simple old-school fighter. Honestly, if you didnít recognize the characters and the graphical style, then you could be forgiven for mistaking it for some weird street fighter clone! (Actually given one of the key members of the development team, Noritaka Funamizu, worked on Street Fighter 2 that's not too surprising really - Dave)

And thatís not far off either. It certainly plays like the old Street Fighter games. Players will find themselves using a mixture of directional manipulation and button mashing to pull of the limited list of combos. This can be cool, but when you have to do a zigzag with the left joystick and press a few buttons, you often pull off a completely different combo to the one you were intending. Itís going to take a bit of practice to get this old-style combat back into your head, but once itís there, the game really takes off.

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The graphics look good...
True to the source material, players are able to pull off ridiculous over-the-top moves, fight on ground or in the air (levitating for limited periods of time) and so on. Moves rang from punches, kicks, grabs, and other weird and wonderful actions depending on the character chosen, of which there are 18 in total.

The game comes with several modes; the standard arcade mode, a versus mode, and the main heart of single-player, the ďZ Survivor ModeĒ. In this mode players are required to fight a certain amount of battles without dying. Health is carried over from each level, but at the end of each match players are presented with a wheel where they can try to select one of the 8 options, ranging from health recovery, increased attack and defense, or other such things. Z survivor mode is played with the players created character.

Unfortunately players will not be able to create new characters from scratch, rather make a clone of an existing character and develop his skills and attack attributes via Z survivor mode. Also in this mode players will be able to collect the 7 Dragonballs that can be used to summon Shenron and grant wishes, varying from learning special skills through to unlocking extra characters.

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...even if not overly detailed.
On the surface, Super Dragonball Z is an enjoyable game, but once again, we have a fighter that seems to have a definite focus on multiplayer. Unfortunately, even here the game has several issues. The biggest disappointment, and one that is sure to be noticed by any fan of the genre, is the lacking list of moves. Each character only has a handful of combos they can do, and most of the moves do not join together very nicely, meaning fighting has a very stop-start feel to it. The moves that are there are good, but linking them together doesnít seem to work too well and thereís just not enough of them.

On top of this, players will almost have to re-learn every single player, as a button combination that worked for one character will not usually work with another unless itís the basic, little impact, attacks. This sounds like a good idea but just ends up taxing multiplayer, meaning that itís not a good party title with players needing to actually know the game rather than being able to pick it up straight away.

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Fast Attack with 2 hits.
Finally, I found myself getting quite frustrated with the game when the seemingly half-working collision detection didnít detect a hit because my character was slightly higher up than the enemy, or vice-versa. It is very annoying, and can end up turning the entire match around.

Graphically the game is obviously paying tribute to the manga and it suits it quite nicely, even if it doesnít look quite as nice as it could. Environments are nicely detailed (not to mention fairly destructible) and character models are what we can expect from a Dragonball Z game. Some of the more over-the-top combos have very nice animation sequences to go with them, but occasionally suffer some sort of weird motion-blur effect. I havenít been able to tell if this is on purpose, but as it only seems to happen on occasion Iíd say not. So the game isnít going to drop any jaws for beautiful imagery, but it doesnít look horrible either.

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Backgrounds are interesting.
And that is perhaps the best way to sum up the games audio as well. Voice acting is very limited, but what is there is decent enough Ė itís what weíve come to expect from Dragonball Z. Sound effects are also decent, and add nicely to fights. Finally, the music (several remixes of songs from the Dragonball Z anime series) is adequate enough, and certainly adds an anime feel to the game.

Perhaps the biggest danger with this game is to go in expecting it to be like the Dragonball Budokai games. At its best, it is a Dragonball Z fighter focusing more so on the manga than the anime, while at its worst itís a frustrating old-school fighter. Thereís definitely a lot of fun to be had with this game, and if you can get a few friends to practice it a bit, a lot of enjoyable multiplayer fights to be had. While Super Dragonball Z does have several issues that bring it down severely, with its more involved fighting style and its focus more on gameplay than graphics, itís a nice change from the alternative mainstream fighters that are out in abundance nowadays.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSNothing horrible, nothing amazing. Occasional blurring that doesnít seem to belong. Styled around the manga rather than the anime.
SOUNDAgain, while not amazing, thereís not too much to complain about. Decent enough.
GAMEPLAYA mixed bag of tricks. Several flaws, and a lack of moves, bring this down considerably, but there is a lot of fun to be had here after a bit of practice.
VALUE: A fair amount of playing is required to unlock the extra characters, and as always with fighters, multiplayer is the main focus, even if it isnít an easily picked-up game.
OVERALLItís good enough. Not great, but itís fun and has all the required elements of a good Dragonball Z fighter.

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