Friday, November 27, 2015

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS) Review

To wrap up this holiday weekend, SuperPhillip Central has a new review to share for a game that released last month in North America. It's Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden for the Nintendo 3DS. Here is SuperPhillip Central's review.

To Z or not to Z

For the longest time I've had a love-hate relationship with the Dragon Ball Z franchise. For one, I really enjoyed and loved playing the games, no matter if they were 2D or 3D fighters, or something else completely out of left field. Collecting figurines as my younger self was also an entertaining hobby. However, the actual anime, at least the original version with all of its filler, was a show that was a bit difficult to watch. Thankfully, Dragon Ball Z Kai is doing a lot to fix the issues I had with the original anime.

Once more, a new Dragon Ball Z game enters the gaming atmosphere, this time landing on the Nintendo 3DS of all platforms. Though the system was rich in fighters in its early life, lately the fighting game scene is one that has avoided the platform. With Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden, the Dragon Ball Z fighting game series reaches the 3DS with a Kamehameha Blast of epic proportions.

Krillin is here today to show that size doesn't matter.
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden sports three main modes for solo players of the game. These unlock one after another as they are completed. The first, Z Story, puts players in the shoes of various Z fighters, each with their own ten fights to complete, taking place throughout the Dragon Ball Z story arc. This is from the Saiyan Saga to the Majin Buu Saga.

My personal favorite of the modes, and that's because of how much more expansive it is, is Adventure Mode. In Adventure Mode, you take the role of Goku who has to collect seven special Dragon Balls in order to combat the return of a plethora of old villains from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. To do this, you travel across eight unique maps, doing battle with AI opponents, and depending on how well you do in each fight, you earn items and new assist characters to your arsenal. Getting an S rank in a fight depends on whether you fulfill the mission's conditions (e.g. finish a foe with an Ultimate Combo, beat the opposing side within a specific amount of time, and so forth) and if you reach 400 points or more through doing a mix of Super Combos, summoning assist characters, and getting Rush Combos, multiple hits on an enemy at once.

An example of one of the maps used in Adventure Mode.
Finally, there is the Extreme World Tournament that unlocks after Adventure Mode's eight maps have been completed. This mode pits your team of fighters and assist characters against a series of tough opponents. The difficulty here ramps up considerably, but through beating the mode and taking down each team of fighters put in your path, you become the Extreme World Tournament champion. This unlocks the final of 25 characters within Extreme Butoden.

25 characters might seem like a small amount, especially when compared to the 3D games, where we've definitely been a bit spoiled. However, the variety of characters in Extreme Butoden is rather high, and considering how the game uses 2D sprites for the fighters and assist characters instead of 3D models, it's easier to understand why the number of fighters is considerably less than the console games. Such combatants this go around include mainstays like Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, Trunks, and Krillin, plus villains like Raditz, Nappa, Frieza in his final form, Perfect Cell, Android 18, Majin Buu, and more.

Do androids dream of electric Saiyans pounding them in the jaw?
Speaking of characters, a typical battle allows up to three characters to be selected for a round. If you don't wish to utilize a team of three fighters, you can opt to add assist characters to your ranks. There are six potential slots to select characters to, and each fighter you choose takes up two of those slots. Meanwhile, an assist character takes up one slot. These assist characters are summoned into battle by tapping their icon on the touch screen in mid-fight, having an alternate result depending on the character summoned. For example, while Yamcha performs a Wolf Fang Fist, Dende partially heals the player's life bar that summoned him. There are approximately 100 different assist characters to choose from, the majority of which need to be unlocked in Adventure Mode. They range from well known characters like Goten, Great Saiyaman, Videl, and Recoome to lesser known characters in the Dragon Ball lore like Monster Carrot, Gine, and Hirrudegan.

Summon assist characters into the fray to turn the tide
of battle... or to ensure victory.
Extreme Butoden isn't a complicated fighter by any stretch of the imagination. Each fighter uses the same button combinations as one another, making it so you need not remember dozens upon dozens of button inputs to be a proficient fighter. Like a typical 2D fighter you have buttons for a weak attack, strong attack, and for Extreme Butoden, a special attack. Pressing different combinations of these buttons results in varied moves, such as Strong Combos, Blast Combos, Z Combos, Z Cancels, Super Combos, Neo Combos, and a myriad of others.

When more than one fighter is on a team, you can switch between them on the fly with the touch screen. Of course, like using assist characters, there is a cool down period before a fighter can return to battle. Each fighter has a Spirit Gauge which dictates how much energy can be used on special attacks that utilize Spirit, such as Goku's Kamehameha Blast and Vegeta's Galick Gun. The maximum a Spirit Gauge can ordinarily reach is 150%, but when a side's health gauge is at less than half, this can expand to 200%, allowing for greater moves and abilities in combat. Different moves take off different percentages of the Spirit Gauge, but the amount of the gauge can be restored through attacking the opponent as well as powering up via holding down the R button.

Goku gives a Kamehameha Blast up close and personal to Captain Ginyu.
Ultimate Combos use 100% of the Spirit Gauge, and these are the best, most powerful attacks within Extreme Butoden. The timing at first to set your opponent up to unleash these takes a bit of practice, but once the button combination and timing are learned, these become second nature. With an Ultimate Combo, a Super Special Move is let loose, If the player on the receiving end of the Ultimate Combo has at least 150% in their Spirit Gauge, they can counter the attack. What results in this is two giant beams of energy jockeying for position, having both players mash on the face buttons to overpower the other. These sequences are highly dramatic, but at the same token, they take some time to unfold, slowing down a battle immensely, which can be a bit of an annoyance.

Ultimate attacks like this are huge spectacles,
but they get annoying after the tenth time seeing them.
Although the solo modes will last players a decent amount of time (10-15 hours), what's left after that is not much. There is a mode to play battles against CPU opponents using characters selected by the player, but beyond that, the pickings are quite slim. If you somehow find a friend or other 3DS owner with a copy of the game, you can fight them via local play. However, online play is completely missing, which is quite unfortunate. That said, a patch in Japan is bringing this much requested feature to players in the near future. There is no telling if the patch will hit Western shores.

Extreme Butoden sports extremely well articulated and detailed 2D sprites, showing Arc System Works at its finest. The amount of different animations and poses for each of the game's 25 fighters and 100 or so assist characters is extraordinary. The game uses 3D backgrounds that house some impressive features to them as well. The 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS for this game is pretty tame. The Spirit Gauge is the sole piece of the game's graphics that stands out while everything else on the screen looks as if you're looking into a box. I wish there was more depth in the 3D effect, such as characters and the foreground popping out at the viewer against the backgrounds and environment. The music is comparative to past Dragon Ball Z games, featuring the token amount of rock and tense music for battles. Unfortunately, the English cast of the series is not represented in Extreme Butoden, only offering the Japanese cast instead.

Piccolo isn't preparing a special move.
He's just showing off with a pose.
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a capable fighter that houses the same intensity of battles as seen in the show the game is modeled after. The lack of current online play is definitely a shame, but the single player components and $30 price tag make up for it in some regards. Despite being a 2D fighter for both beginners and veterans of the genre alike, a great amount of depth and skill is here for those who seek it. Big fans of Dragon Ball Z will find a lot more to love than non-fans, but if you're in the mood for a compelling fighter, then Extreme Butoden might just be the game for you.

[SPC Says: B-]

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