As anime goes, Dragonball Z is a weird one. I know kids and adults that love it, hardcore anime fans that hate it and many who sit in between. If you (like me) are a fan of everything Dragonball then you will have experienced the dizzying highs and lows that we fans have to endure. Every time a new DBZ game comes out, many of us feel some uncontrollable impulse to buy and play it, even though the odds are that we will likely live to regret it.
This regret has never been more present than in recent times with entries like Ultimate Tenkaichi and Raging Blast 1 and 2 failing to live up to expectation, leaving fans of both fighting games and DBZ wanting. So as a new challenger enters the ‘other world tournament’ that is the DBZ franchise in the form of Dragonball Z for Kinect, is this the title we have all been waiting for? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no.
As the title would suggest, this is the first Dragonball game to utilise the Kinect sensor and although it fails to deliver it is clear its intentions were noble. The first thing you will notice is that the game is played almost completely in first person. This in itself is a bold move for a series that’s has previously tried to cater to hardcore fighting fans.
Almost all moves must be literally performed by the player including Jabs, Hooks, Uppercuts, Kicks etc as well as the signature moves that fans would come to expect. On paper this is a bold and cool idea (especially for fans) however in practice it soon becomes apparent that the logistics of this were not thought through and the further you get into the game, the more this just serves to frustrate.
One of the first issues you will no doubt come to is simply the amount of space required to play this game. I have a reasonably sized lounge and even moving all my furniture out into other parts of the house I still didn’t have the required room to perform all the actions required. The space needed for this game borders on the ridiculous and unless you live in a warehouse expect to run out of room fast.
The second issue I came across is unfortunately one that many Kinect games suffer from, lack of response to your movements. This however is especially the case with DBZ for Kinect and most fights simply descend into just jabbing until you beat your opponent. At least 90% of the time attempts to kick or charge your special move simply don’t work leaving you no choice but just punch or get beat. The game is also ridiculously fast paced with unnecessary quick time event cut scenes spliced into the action. This not only disrupts the games already stilted flow but it also means the player struggles to keep up.
Another minus point to note is the length of each match. It took me almost twenty minutes to defeat some opponents which is a crazy long time and not in a great value for money kind of way. In comparison to the ninety nine seconds or so your average fighting game schedules per round, this is almost a lifetime.
Yet another issue with Dragonball Z Kinect, that there is absolutely no excuse for, is the lack of game modes. There is a Story Mode, a Score Attack Mode and…that’s it?! No online mode, no alternate Sagas and no local multiplayer game types. This therefore also makes the game terrible value for money in more ways than one and what little content is here you will tire of very quickly. The only other minor plus I can see here is that the first episode of the latest DBZ series is also included on the disc for your viewing pleasure. However this is somewhat redundant as non-hardcore fans won’t care and hardcore fans will have no doubt already seen it.
Now we come to DBZ for Kinects few minor redeeming features. Graphically it looks nice enough, although bafflingly not as good as some previous titles such as say DBZ Burst Limit, which was released all the way back in 2008. In terms of sound, all the signature noises and voices are present but this is nothing you wouldn’t find in other, better, DBZ games.
The crux of these games is that they are re-telling a very well-known tale and the best titles in this franchise are the ones that cater to the fans need to put original spins on it. Although Raging Blast had its problems, the what-if sagas were a stroke of genius, allowing fans to see what could have happened to these characters that they have grown to know and love. If the normal fan base wasn’t the aim here then maybe the idea could have been to concentrate more on the games mechanics in order to make it good enough for the masses. Unfortunately however Dragonball Z for Kinect does neither of these things well or at all and that is a real shame.
Whether it’s a good Kinect game, a good fighting game or a scratch for your Dragonball Z itch that you are looking for, none can be found here. Unfortunately a combination of unrealistic ideas and lazy game design have made Dragonball Z for Kinect a must miss title for both fans and newcomers alike. I hope that the next offering with the DBZ title on it will be something better as the franchise deserves and needs another great game. However it would appear that now is not the time for Goku and pals to make their triumphant return.