Over the years the Dragon Ball saga has had quite a number of games released, some of them are fun and others not so fun, with Extreme Butoden Arc System Works has been given the reins and has attempted to make something different, sadly it’s not quite as good as it could have been.
When you first boot up the game you will bear witness to a wonderful cutscene that show cases various characters doing a range of things, it’s really quite a sight, sadly that is the only time you will see something like that, as when you play any of the story modes, all you will get are static figures against the background. The first mode open to you, apart from a random battle is the Story mode, this offers up 10 chapters from the story of Dragon Ball Z, but be warned anyone new to the series will not have a chance at understanding what is happening as the story is severely abridged. Fans of the series should know the context for most of the fights and they do bring back a sense of nostalgia, so it does have its moments.
Upon completing these 10 chapters, you will unlock modes for a range of characters that provide a little bit of the same, but with small enough twists, which will allow other characters to shine. Once you have tired of this you can jump into the Adventure mode, which offers up a new story for fans to experience. An evil has arisen and through their actions all the enemies from the Dragon Ball saga have appeared once again and Goku sets out on a quest to collect all of the Dragon Balls in the hopes of being able to seal away the energy that summoned them, and restore peace to the world. The story is very linear, but playing this way does all you to unlock new characters for assists.
The problem that the game displays very early on is a limited move set for Goku and no matter the character you select; the moves all feel the same. This would not be an issue at the start of the abridged story mode, but when you can access the same abilities then as you can when fighting Majin-Buu things get weird. During the Adventure mode, you can also select who you want to fight as, so while the conversation might be between Goku and Gohan and result in them wanting to practice spar, you can actually select Frieze, Cell and Gohan to fight against Gohan, which makes no sense. The core fighting in the game is really solid, with each of the characters moving really well and executing their signature moves once you have charged up enough ki, but there is no depth to their moves, all you need to do is hold the left should button and hit any face button.
One area the game does really well is the movement of the characters, they are fast and responsive and they all look great no matter the background they are fighting on. There are times when you will see some lag in the game, but that is mostly when the game is putting a lot of stuff on screen at once and while it is frustrating to see that in a fighting game, it will only happen a few times, so it is easy enough to overlook. The audio is a strange one, while the music is nice to listen to and again brings back that nostalgia, the voice work is all from the Japanese cast, which if you have watched the show will be nice, but for those of us who have only ever seen the English dub, it is strange and no matter how many times I heard Goku speaking, the high pitched voice always made me miss the English one. The other issue with the speech is it’s not fully voiced acted, only snippets of the dialogue make it into the game, the rest of the time is text boxes only.
Overall Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden is a solid fighting game, it does offer fans of the series a chance to see things in new ways and experience a new story, even if it’s not the most ambitious. The fighting is very solid, but very repetitive and the lack of differentiation between the characters means there is no real reason to explore them all.