I should be honest, I have not paid any attention to the Dragon Ball anime or manga in years, purely because it became so bloated. In that same time, the games have pretty much repeated the same formula and while they try to mix things up sometimes, it’s a lot of the same, so going into Dragon Ball Fusion, I was not expecting much.
Your character, which you can name and design and their friend/rival Pinich start the game by finding the final Dragon Ball and they make their wish that they can fight against the best fighters ever, to prove that they are the strongest fighters. However, when their wish is apparently granted, nothing else happens, for a moment, then a vortex appears and they are sucked into this new world, where fighters from across space and time are showing up to prove their worth. Upon arriving at the world, Tekka, my character’s default name and Pinich split up, as they learn you need to form a team of 5 to enter the ultimate fighting championship.
As you explore the world, you will start to encounter fighters from throughout the Dragon Ball world, it was not long after I got to this world that Goten and Trunks, in the kid forms showed up to help me fight against Nappa and Raditz and soon after they joined my team. As my team grew, so did where I could explore, each section of the world is blocked off, by fields of energy that you collect from winning fights, so as you fight more, the world opens and as the world expands, so do the characters that you can meet. The problem with meeting all the versions of the characters from the entire saga is that, some of them I did not know and the game does all it can to avoid telling you about them, but still trying to tell you, it gets confusing and frustrating.
Making your way around the world is done by flying everywhere, you can fly slow or fast, but you can only fly and while that does not seem like a bad thing, when you are close to the ground and trying to get to location nearby, it does become a little awkward. While flying however, you will see on your map, lots of dots, these are other teams, all trying to earn enough energy to open up the next barrier to move forward, if you fly around at slow speeds, you can ignore them if you want, but if you blast around at full speed, you can trigger a fight if you get too close, so even flying around needs you to pay attention.
Once you get into the fights though, the game really expands itself from the standard Dragon Ball fighting games and while to does lead more to the side of too many systems, it takes its time in introducing them, so it’s not everything at once. The basic fighting takes place on a flat circle, with characters moving around in a 3d space and while you can’t move until its your turn, you can still plan ahead. Across the bottom of the screen is a bar that tracks which character has their turn next, each character will move at different speeds, based on the type of fighter they are, if you are a speed fighter, you will deal less damage than a power fighter, but you will attack more often. Once one of your fighters gets their turn up you can select your attack and begin your assault.
There are a range of attacks to choose from, the standard melee attack, ki blast, special, Zenkai and fusion, with each having a benefit. The standard melee attack will see you move towards your selected fighter and then you will move to a new camera angle, at this point you can move around your target in the hopes of hitting them. If you happen to land on the direction they block towards, you will only get to deal minor damage, if you get them from the opposite side, then you can deal pretty big damage. If you have another one of your fighters almost ready to attack as well, you can team up to deal even more damage. Once your attack lands, if you happen to punch the enemy from the right angle, you can punch them towards their own allies, which knocks them all back in the queue.
Joining up with ki blasts, Kamehameha, gattling gun or other energy attacks, you can deal significant damage and the attacks can be split into single target attacks or multiple, but the game changes things up again with the Zenkai attacks. Each fight you enter will earn you fighting energy and when you complete one bar, you can launch a zenkai attack, this takes into a standard 3d fighter mode, where you need to move around, target your enemy and launch attacks. As you land hits, you earn ki energy, which is used to then land a ki attack, which deals more damage, but the level of power behind each attack varies, depending on the number of energy orbs you collect. Finally, each fighter has a fighter type assigned much like rock, paper, scissors and you can deal more damage if you target the type weaker to yourself. Each fight you win will also reward you with energy, that you can use to open the barriers between sections and to purchase new clothes, if you want to.
Add to that mix a levelling system, where you earn xp to level up your own fighter, as well as the other members of your team and as both level up, you earn new moves you can learn, but while a new move might be a welcome addition to your roster, the move might be only marginally better than something you already have, so you need to find the balance there. The problem is that after every fight you have to go through these motions and while you can save new moves you earnt, if you want to sort them out later, its not automatic, so if you skip them, then you lose them, until you earn them again.
The problem with all the methods of fighting is simple, it’s not at all simple, the game has added so many levels to the combat system, it becomes a chore trying to work each one out enough to combine it with the others. After the first few fights, I had adapted to the basics without any real hassles, however the game just keeps throwing different methods of fighting at you. While you can keep things basic, as you progress through the story, the stronger enemies will keep launching stronger attacks at you, which means you must try and keep pace. The worlds also suffer from not having a lot to do within them, sure there are towns and places you can visit, but they also don’t contain anything of note to do once you are there, the entire game revolves around flying around and punching things.
From a presentation point of view, the game is odd, visually the game is great, the amount of detail that the game present, no matter the speed you are flying at or how fast the fights are going, the game never has any issues keeping up. When you get into conversations, it does become an issue, not from the quality of the visuals, just because each character will slide off screen and be replaced by someone with a set pose, or they change from happy to sad so quickly it becomes jarring. The other odd element is the audio, the music is pure Dragon Ball and the lines, which are only available in Japanese are fine, but there were a lot of times that I would find the characters to be speaking, even just little things post a fight, that were never subtitled, so I had no clue what was being said.
Dragon Ball Fusion is a game that on the surface looks to be the same basic formula, but with a very in-depth fighting system and character levelling options. Players will find a challenge here in trying to maintain the balance everything that is on offer, but if you can do that, the rewards will be worth it.
Thanks to Bandai Namco Australia for supplying the game for review