Bandai Namco Entertainment, 2015, Nintendo 3DS.
The day had come. I had been waiting for a Dragon Ball Z game for the Nintendo 3DS and to be honest, l’m surprised it hadn’t arrived sooner. Being a fan of the anime -and many of video games it’s spawned, console or portable- I pre-ordered and awaited Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden with anticipation upon release in October 2015. Dragon Ball Z Super Butoden was a popular series on the the SNES in the 1990’s that spawned a few sequels and Extreme Butoden as it’s name implies, harkens back to the original.
I’m all for tradition but this feels like a Super Nintendo game on steroids that plays on the 3DS, albeit with somewhat more fluid controls and better graphics. The gameplay however, does limits the player. I’ve listed a few reasons as to why that is:
-You can’t go in the air for more than a few seconds and it’s usually for certain attacks or a special move.
-If you jump the screen follows you up and you can’t see the opponent momentarily.
-It’s a 2D scroller and the characters are in 2D in a 3D environment which creates a classic arcade feel. It’s just a shame you stay in the same fighting zone and don’t get to see much of the levels.
-lt’s easy to trap the AI in a corner and inflict lots of damage on them. They’ll eventually move but it takes a while.
-The game is very easy. Begins on Medium setting and it’s child’s play and l’m not exaggerating by much. Hard increases difficulty but even then it’s not much of a challenge.
-The visuals look even look like supercharged and upgraded SNES graphics, a far cry from the console’s 3D capabilities.
-Cannot evolve as Super Saiyan
-No flying (although that’s suggestive to player and not necessarily a bad thing)
Much has been said about the amount of characters Extreme Butoden has. Yes, it’s true there are a lot of characters -and the selection is impressive to say the least- however, only 25 are truly playable. Reality is many of these characters count as “Z Assist” characters, but they are not characters you can technically play. They’re more like sidekicks that will can launch an occasional attack to help like Kid Gohan, regenerate health like Bulma, or aid as comic relief like Oolong. You don’t even control them. They add a certain comic relief and fun factor though. I prefer to think of them as items; if you use them well these assist characters can be helpful. You also cannot become a Super Saiyan as Goku, Vegeta etc. You have to select their character as a SS instead. Some odities show up in Extreme Butoden as Gohan is available as SS 2 and Trunks is only available as a Saiyan. It’s pretty cool to play as Lord Beerus and Broly, but why not make more of the characters playable instead of relaying them to extras? Pre-orders come with 6 extra characters and a playable version of the SNES game Super Butoden 2 but l haven’t received anything from Gamestop and am still waiting. It also seems l’m not the only one who didn’t get the bonuses which only adds to the disappointment.
There are 6 modes in total. The Z story mode is not horrible but is lacking. It’s brief, ridiculously easy and unchallenging. For instance at one point you are given Gohan, Krillon and Vegeta just to defeat Goku! Having three characters to defeat 1, sometimes 2, makes it too easy. You’ll get to fight Frieza twice but there’s almost nothing on Cell’s saga gets one fight throughout. You fight Cell once, then the game explains that “Goku saved the world but Satan was the one credited”, even though we don’t see Satan anywhere in this mode. In the cut scenes (which are just pictures that sometime move) skims through some content from the series and some fights that would been fun like Piccolo vs Cell or Trunks vs Frieza. They’ll make mention of Cell’s multiple forms but we only get to fight one, same with Frieza and Buu. Also no mention of Dr. Gero!
Completing story mode unlocks characters with whom you can replay story mode. The only one who’s story is slightly different is Vegeta because of his perspective and initially being a villain. It’s nothing special.
Adventure mode is essentially the same, except you get to fly around as Goku on a 3D map while you select stages to battle.This feels much more like what a story mode should be. The story is not unique, but it does provides better fights and harder challenges. It’s truly the real “meat” of the game and it’s longer than story mode.
Extreme World Tournament mode is pretty self-explanatory and had always been a personal favourite with it comes to Dragon Ball Z games. Nothing amazing but pretty good.
Battle mode is where you fight whoever you want, anywhere you want. You have to pick 3 characters and face off vs 3 opponents of your choice. No single battles, which is a little puzzling. It’s a great time to test and use the Z Assist character.
There is a multiplayer mode but l have yet to play and cannot comment on it. Quest Mode is basically Streetpass. Extras allows you to register a team and look at photo galleries and settings.
The voiceover when there is any that is (which is rare), is taken from Japanese voices. It may be a nice touch for the hardcore fan or those who followed the series in the Japanese language. However, no English version will likely irritate some of those only familiar with the manga’s English dub. Having an option to select would’ve been nice considering this is the American release. I doubt it’s a big deal since there is little audio other than music, but hearing the odd Japanese word or sound here and there makes it interesting. It doesn’t quite fit (especially for some characters like Goku) which is noticeable early on in the game. What’s even sadder is the amount of text we are still getting. Voiceovers in this case would’ve made it more interesting than reading on the screen. I don’t mind a little, but all text gets redundant -especially in this age of video gaming. The text also features some minor factual errors about storylines and characters which doesn’t help.
I was hoping for a DBZ title that would take advantage of the 3DS functions and features, but alas it was not to be. It feels and looks like it would have been a great game… For Gameboy Advance. Graphics aren’t everything but with a lot of text and limited gameplay, it’s a frustrating title. If you’re looking for the 3DS’ ultimate fighting game or a fun DBZ game, this is not it. The battles are fun and l can live with the graphics, but the bad outweighs the good just a little too much. It’s enjoyable no doubt, as long ad you don’t set your expectations too high. Objectively l can’t give it more than 6 out of 10 dragon balls because l feel it’s just okay and nothing terribly special. A failed opportunity.