A lifelong fan of the world-famous manga and anime franchise, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is fan service at its best… and worst.
This 2D fighting game developed by Arc System Works (of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fame) and published by Bandai Namco Games gives players the chance to gloss over the entire Dragon Ball Z storyline in the matter of a few battles via Z Story mode. Alternate character-specific story modes open up after that, but it still falls on the short side. If you’re familiar with Dragon Ball Z lore, then consider this presentation to be a shorthand nostalgic version of it, like DBZ CliffNotes. Otherwise, there are quite a few text screens to skip… and skip… and skip…
As far as mechanics go in this fighting game, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is easy to pick up and play regardless of skill level. Weak strong, and special attacks are controlled with just a few buttons, and all characters use the same basic combination of presses to execute attack strings that knock opponents for a loop. Like Smash Bros., you only need to learn a few moves initially to survive a bout. Each playable character has their own set of special moves and combos, making for a fun trip from Earth to Namek and beyond.
Those unfamiliar with the Dragon Ball Z franchise may find it difficult to tell the difference between characters similar in appearance such as Goku, Gohan, and Yamcha, but fans will have a blast picking their favorites in their attempt to save the world. While promotional materials boast over 100 characters in DBZ: Extreme Butoden, only 18 are playable fighters. With the ability to pick up to three of your favorite fighters during bouts, enemies are going to have a hard time going up against the likes of Super Saiyan Gotenks, Majin Buu, and Beerus, The God of Destruction (from the new Dragon Ball Super series) as a single cohesive unit. As far as the expansive cast of support characters including King Kai and Master Roshi go, they appear as Z Assist Characters to help turn the tide in your favor. So long as you keep moving and chain up attacks, you’ll be fine.
Should you feel confident enough to challenge other players online in Versus Mode, though, you’d better know your stuff.
Those looking for an intense fighting game experience should steer clear of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden. That being said, gamers looking for a fun distraction for a few minutes at a time on the way to school or work will love this release. The story mode and mechanics leave much to desire, but there are plenty of dream matches and the potential for future dlc that makes this one a winner.
Quality-wise, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden isn’t quite the Cell Games Saga, but it’s certainly better than anything in GT.
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is now available on Nintendo 3DS.