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Dragonball Z: Taiketsu

Review By:  Tikerman

Developer:  Webfoot Technologies
Publisher:  Atari
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Fighting
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Link Cable (multiplayer)
Date Posted:  3-3-04

Now, I'm no Dragonball Z fan. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate or in any way dislike Dragonball Z. Rather, I don't have any opinion of it, owing to the fact that I have never watched it. I've heard good things of course, but I'm not really an anime guy. I am, however, a video game guy, and I do know that this game sucks.

Now, I'm no fighting game fan either. Again, don't get me wrong, I don't hate or in any way dislike fighting games, but I do certainly love Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, and I can certainly sit down and play more traditional fighting games. But I'm not really a fighting game guy. I do, however, know this game sucks.

Dragonball Z: Taiketsu has a rather simple premise. Actually, it has no premise at all. What Atari has done is to bring together all the various Dragonball Z all-stars throughout the various series and cram them into a fighting game. The back of the box tells me that this includes "Broly" which is supposed to get me excited or something. I don't know, maybe it gets all you Dragonball Z fans excited. Well let me save you some emotion: don't get excited. As a fighter, Broly is indistinguishable from Raditz, Goku, Krillin, Piccolo, and various other copyrighted and trademarked characters. Sure, they look different, and maybe one is slightly faster or more powerful than another, but I surely didn't notice.

There are a lot of problems with this game, but if you want the simple answer, I can tell you: this game's developer simply pumped out a generic, basic, unoriginal, and completely unexciting fighting game, slapped the Dragonball Z: Taiketsu title on it (what the hell does "Taiketsu" mean anyway?), and expected it to sell great. The sad part is that faithful Dragonball Z fans will buy this. Perhaps Dragonball Z fans might enjoy this, simply because they can play as their favorite Dragonball Z characters. But with plenty of other Dragonball Z games out there (not to mention plenty of good fighting games out there), there really is no reason to buy this game.

The graphics are not that bad. Each of the individual characters is rather distinguishable, but by no means does Taiketsu stretch the GBA's graphical limitations. And although the game features a fair degree of texture and a nice look, it is by no means visually appealing. The backgrounds can be nice to look at the first time you lay eyes on them, but otherwise they're repetitive and uninteresting. Each fighting area is only the length of about a screen and a half, so there's not really much to get excited about in that regard.

The music is worse. The sound effects are annoying; every time I try to select something or move around on the menu I get these headache inducing beeps and boodle-oops. The background music to every kind of fight I partake in seems to sound the same: crappy, repetitive, and uninteresting.

The gameplay is just horrible. No character seems to be any different; their moves are all the same. Even if you only like any one player more and didn't play as anyone else you'd still be bored because none of the moves are in any way interesting. They're all the basic, punch kick, high punch, high kick, et cetera. Each character seems to be able to charge up, a painstakingly long process that leaves you vulnerable to any attack, and then use that charge up for either a basic "Ki Attack" in which the character shoots out a ball of energy, or something to the effect of a Super Ki Attack, in which the character's hair goes blonde and he shoots out a lot more energy. These moves both seem to be accomplished by the same combination of buttons pressed, but for the life of me I cannot discern why one or the other happens.

Each player also seems to have something called a "Unique Melee Attack" but I wouldn't be able to tell you about it, as I cannot manage to pull it off. The instruction booklet claims that I should press "+Control Pad away from opponent + B Button (when close.)" I've exercised every possible interpretation of these directions, but none of it seems to produce any result. There is, however, a move my computer opponent oft pulls on me that I have never done, that I suspect is the elusive Unique Melee Attack. The become encircled in some yellowish glowing substance and then proceed to perform some time consuming maneuver that generally involves one or more colored balls (presumably of "energy") of varying size being thrown at you without any chance of dodging.

Perhaps the best, and by best I mean most humorously bad, thing about this game is the ability to engage in a "Sky Battle". This happens when you pull of some inane button combination, and you shoot into the air, off the screen (an arrow indicates your position.) Your opponent is then given a short amount of time to pull of the same move. If he does, he will fly up and engage in the "Sky Battle". If he doesn't, then you try to position yourself (via the arrow) over him, so that when the allotted time is up, you crash down on top of him.

The "Sky Battle" itself is ridiculous. You and your opponent appear very, very close to each other over a yellow background (not very much like any sky I know) with black streaks shooting by that seem to indicate speed or something. There is then a meter at the bottom, with a red side and a green side, and a slider in the middle. Your character and your opponent's begin flailing their arms and legs ridiculously at each other, small sunbursts appearing everywhere they land a hit. What you try to do is mash the buttons as fast as possible, trying to move the slider over into your opponent's half of the meter. When it gets to the end, you both drop back down onto the stage, the victor landing on his feet, and loser crumpled on the ground, having lost a bit of energy. If you can master getting yourself into the air, your opponent will always accept the Sky Battle and can easily be defeated. Thusly, you can win any battle by simply repeating the "Sky Battle" over and over again, except in modes that prohibit it. 

The "Sky Battle" seems to be a microcosm of this entire game. I don't know if "Sky Battles" are something taken directly from the series or what, but they are an example of inane, horrible gameplay, poor music, crappy background, and altogether just a bad idea. Further a microcosm of the game, it occasionally sends you flying off the top of the screen, with no arrow to guide you, and there is no way to get down other than waiting until time expires (at which point someone wins, I can't figure out their formula for deciding.)

There are various modes of play. The tournament is self-explanatory, and yields an unlocked character upon finishing. There is also Sparring, which seems to be just a single match, and Endurance, also self-explanatory. Upon finishing any given battle, an animated shot of the winner will appear, and some inane quote will show up. This particular section seems to be rather buggy; during one playing of the game, no matter which character I played as, who I played against, or which one won the game, it was always Goku popping up and telling me how easily he crushed me, or something.

After that, you are awarded points based on your performance. This seems to be the best part of the game. You can take all the points you racked up and head to the "Z-Store" where you can buy images from the show, songs (meaning you are allowed to listen to any of the crappy tunes at your leisure,) character bios, bonus settings, or a single bonus mode entitled "Sky Battle 2".

I was rather excited about discovering this, only because the first Sky Battle was so funny I thought this one might even be more so. But alas, it's actually a decent bit of gameplay. When enabled, and a Sky Battle initiated, instead mashing random buttons, buttons appear at the bottom of the screen, which you must press in rapid succession, while your opponent is given buttons of his own to press. Being successful seems to hurt your opponent, and instead of returning to the normal game mode after a while, this battle is continued...to the death!

Highs:

  • Z-Store provides some decently fun things fans may enjoy
  • Sky Battle 2 mode is bearable

Lows:

  • Unimpressive graphics
  • Very poor music
  • No variation whatsoever in fighting styles
  • Moves can be difficult to impossible to pull off
  • Can be buggy
  • Sky Battle (1) mode is just plain ridiculous

Final Verdict:

This game is just bad. The only conceivable reason I can think of that would make anyone want to buy it is that he or she wants, really badly, any of the images or character bios (that are probably available on the internet) that can be unlocked in the Z-Store. Otherwise, this is a rather generic and boring fighting game. It can provide a little bit of amusement if you already own it, but there's just no good reason to spend money on it if something like Street Fighter or the like is available.

Overall Score: 1.8

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