Another fighting game comes to Kinect, this time it’s Dragon Ball Z, if you haven’t heard any of the hype, here’s a short summary:

Feel what it’s like to unleash the most powerful Dragon Ball Z attacks in this game that puts you right inside the battle! Use Kinect motion controls to experience scenes from the legendary anime franchise. Re-create some of the series’ most explosive battles and fight huge bosses in Story Mode, or try and max out your score in furious one-on-one battles. Find special QR codes that unlock new characters and bonuses when you hold them in front of your Kinect. Get fired up for your adventure by watching exclusive never-before-seen anime footage. All in all, there more than 100 moves to master on your way to becoming the ultimate DBZ warrior!

Overview

It’s not a bad game, but it tends to get repetitive and it seems like there could have been so much more to it. For what it is though, it’s good. It’s pretty comparable to Marvel Avengers, but both have their strengths and weaknesses.

The Menu

This time around, it uses a hover and swipe method to choose your menu items. It works well, you use your left hand to return while navigating inside of the menu. The main menu consists of the following; Story Mode, Score Attack, Card Reader, Achievements, Options and Special Movie.

Story Mode

This is the main mode of the game and is how you unlock a majority of the characters. The story does skip around a little compared to the cartoons, but you do get to fight in the major battles. There is a Tutorial in here once you start and I highly recommend that first. Once you learn the basics, the fighting mechanics are broken down basically into 3 categories, Melee, Ranged and Special Moves. Unfortunately this is the whole system and combos are pretty much done on their own so you can’t get creative. You can also lean left or right to dodge, as well as leaning forward and backward to go closer or evade your opponent. You are also able to raise your arms up to defend/block, which is always one of my favorites in fighting games. There’s also a counter system which is basically QTE gestures such as leaning back or kicking, etc. Some are unavailable so you have to do a correct gesture in order to counter. It is nice that most options are here, I couldn’t think of anything they missed.

For Melee combat, you have a bar that you have to fill up when in close combat. Once you fill it up, it initiates a super combo I suppose, and you repeat it 3 times. You can punch or kick but that’s about it for the close combat. There are jabs, hooks and uppercuts though so it’s just not basic punching with only jabs. As for ranged attacks, every punch shoots something out of your hands depending on what character you are. You do get the option to jump when in ranged mode and this initiates a type of super attack that brings you closer to get back in Melee mode.

Lastly, you have your special powers. You have to charge up your Ki in order to use them. You only get to use 2 and they are based on what character you are. The first one you can use halfway, and this one doesn’t do as much damage as your 2nd one, but you just have to perform the correct gesture when you have enough Ki and away you go. Performing the 2nd one is done the same way. Some of the more powerful characters such as Super Saiyan Goku, requires a 3 stage gesture to release a variation of Kamehameha for example.

The one thing that I did like that instead of having a life bar as most other fighting games, I’m almost certain they used power levels. The stupid thing is in one of the story modes in the beginning, Goku only has a power level of 9,000, but the game has him around 50,000 if I remember. It would have been cool if they made it based on their power levels during the story. The thing that always lured me in about DBZ is that the characters always seemed so powerful (ie. destroying planets) and it would have been cool if they brought that same feeling into the game.

As for the stages themselves, I did complete the game in about 4 hours but I did put it on easy, as when I got to Frieza on normal difficulty, I had all kinds of issues, not with the controls they opponents seemed to be quite challenging. This is a tough game on the harder difficulty levels. Anyhow, here’s the full list of everything in story mode:

Saiyan Saga Story
– Raditz Stage
– Saibamen Stage
– Nappa Stage
– Vegeta Stage
– Great Ape Vegeta Stage

I did want to mention, the Great Ape stage is just a quick time event stage, although as I played it, it made me think that they could have went into great detail of the story using QTE battles/scenes in between the main battles. I did make a video of it, since it is the only battle with QTE in it. Check it out below:

Frieza Saga Story
– Captain Ginyu Stage
– Captain Ginyu (Goku) Stage
– Frieza 1st Form Stage
– Frieza 2nd Form Stage
– Frieza Final Form Stage
– Full Power Frieza Stage

Android Saga Story
– Android #19 Stage
– Cell 1st Form Stage
– Android #17 Stage
– Cell 2nd Form Stage
– Cell Perfect Form Stage
– Perfect Cell Stage

I also took a regular battle from the Android Saga with Cell’s 1st Form Stage, in case you haven’t seen the 100’s of videos already out there:

Majin Buu Saga Story
– Majin Vegeta Stage
– Majin Buu Stage
– Super Buu Stage 1
– Super Buu Stage 2
– Kid Buu Stage 1
– Kid Buu Stage 2

Tutorials
– Melee Range
– Blast Range
– Knockback Combo
– Escape & Approach
– Super Attacks

Once you complete story mode, you do unlock quite a few characters. The set that gets unlocked includes all of these:

  • Goku
  • Krillin
  • Yamcha
  • Tien
  • Piccolo
  • Kid Gohan
  • Raditz
  • Saibamen
  • Nappa
  • Vegeta (Scouter)
  • Vegeta
  • Goku Super Saiyan
  • Cui
  • Dodoria
  • Zarbon
  • Zarbon Post-Transformation
  • Recoome
  • Burter
  • Jeice
  • Captain Ginyu (Goku)
  • Frieza 1st Form
  • Frieza 2nd Form
  • Frieza 3rd Form
  • Frieza Final Form
  • Trunks
  • Teen Gohan Super Saiyan
  • Teen Gohan Super Saiyan 2
  • Android #16
  • Android #19
  • Dr. Gero
  • Cell 1st Form
  • Cell 2nd Form
  • Cell Perfect Form
  • Cell Jr.
  • Goku Super Saiyan 2
  • Gotenks Super Saiyan
  • Super Buu
  • Super Buu Gohan Absorbed

There are also 17 more locked characters but I’m assuming you have to unlock them using the QR codes and the card reader that’s built into the game.

Score Attack

Score Attack basically removes all of the story elements and your objective is just to get a high score initially over 4,000,000. The Vegeta Ape stage is not in here, but all the rest of them are. You do get to choose other characters as you don’t have to use the story characters. They are all rated as well, from A to F and in 2 categories, Health and Attack.

Card Reader

As I mentioned above, this loads a program that scans the QR codes as well as Power-Up cards, which I have no idea what they are. Apparently they unlock more characters and give you other bonuses but I didn’t have any to test this out with.

Options

The options are pretty standard, they include Difficulty (Easy/Normal/Hard), Brightness, BGM Volume, Sound Effects Volume, Voice Volume and Voice Language, either in English or Japanese.

Special Movie

This is an actual HD episode of Goku’s father initially meeting Frieza’s Father before everything happened. It is all in Japanese though, but does have English subtitles. I believe it was about 20-30 minutes long but I didn’t keep track.

Graphics & Controls

I do like the way the graphics are, it’s like advanced cel-shading or something, but it makes it really authentic. I do think their mouths are more realistic in the cartoons though. The environments are mostly destructible as well and you sometimes get the sense of how powerful the attacks can be. I really didn’t have any issues with the controls, it picked up mostly everything. Good controls are always a good thing when it comes to Kinect games.

Conclusion

As with the majority of these recent titles, it’s a good game but you want more. It is repetitive, but I didn’t really get bored with it as I wanted to keep the story progressing. That’s why if there was more story that would have been great. It does lack major multiplayer unfortunately. There isn’t even a local battle option which would have been nice. On the online side, the only thing you can do is compete for high scores in the Score mode that gets posted on the Leaderboards.

I think if they could have made this a little more involved with the DBZ world, it would have been a great title, so as for now, it’s just good, not great. If you are a Dragon Ball fan, you will probably want to check this one out as well. It’s definitely a start in the right direction.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Dragon Ball Z
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