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Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi

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Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi Box Art
System/s: PS3, X360
Developer: Spike Chunsoft Co.
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: 3D Fighter
Players: 1+
GD Score: 54
Press Scores
Release Date:
N. America: Oct. 25, 2011
Europe: Oct. 28, 2011
Australia: Oct. 27, 2011
Japan: Dec. 8, 2011
ESRB: Teen (Cartoon Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language)

"Long in the Tooth"

REVIEW |

Author: Neil Kapit  

Sometimes stories become so popular and so memorable that they endure in merchandising long after their end. In the West, Star Wars continues to be a staple of department stores everywhere, despite the main trilogy having ended nearly three decades ago. And in the East, there's Dragon Ball, the most memorable creation of Akira Toriyama and a continuing influence on manga artists everywhere. But this timelessness does not extend to its adaptations, which need to offer a unique take in order to succeed on their own merits. In the case of Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi, this take is the same derivative fighting game we've seen from many years ago.

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3, Xbox 360) Review Screenshots

Like the Budokai Tenkaichi games from the last generation of gaming, Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is a fighting game based on flash over technique. The moves are fairly easy to pull off, but the stage is larger than most fighting games, with characters able to fly in three dimensions and use ranged attacks as well as fisticuffs. In traditional Dragon Ball fashion, characters have extremely over-the-top special moves that shoot enough mystical energy to power the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, though building up this level of power takes time that an opponent can exploit. This adds a nice tactical element, requiring players to know when to charge up a special move of extreme destructive force, and when to stay on their toes and stick to lighter, briefer attacks.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this flash is a lack of substance. While these epic battles of energy-shooting, crazy-haired musclemen progress on screen, the actual gameplay found in DBZ: Ultimate Tenkaichi is limited. During the close-quarters fights, player input is limited to pushing the right button at the right time for a counter-attack, reducing the gameplay to the level of "Simon Says". The characters may be visually diverse, but in the field they operate almost identically. Despite its elaborate moves and three-dimensional field, success in Tenkaichi boils down to mashing buttons at the right moment.

This formula has proven successful in the past, when the Tenkaichi fighting games proliferated on the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube. Unfortunately, the series' revival on the current generation of consoles hasn't shown much progress. The series doesn't take advantage of the enhanced processing power of the PS3 and the Xbox 360, and while the look is faithful to the Dragon Ball Z manga and anime, it's extremely simplistic by modern standards. If this were an HD remake of the previous Tenkaichi titles, this would be forgivable, but this is a brand new game, and it's still telling the same story with the same moves, when the rest of the video game industry has moved on.

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3, Xbox 360) Review Screenshots

Fans of previous Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi games will likely want to play the new version, and they will appreciate even the little improvements like the create-a-character mode (where players train and tweak their own anime hero in an RPG-style fashion). However, the hardcore fans will likely buy Dragon Ball games with little regard for their actual quality. Everyone else need not bother with this shallow fighting game, which hides a rudimentary button-mashing design behind the nostalgia so many have for Toriyama's most famous work.

GameDynamo's Score for Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3)
Graphics
The resolution is nice, and the animations are fluid, but the anime designs look crude and unimpressive when rendered with current-generation processing power.
Sound
Though the music is largely forgettable, the voice actors from the Funimation dub provide their endearingly over-the-top performances.
Gameplay
The frenetic and over-the-top action of Dragon Ball Z is nice to look at, but the actual controls are too simplistic to maintain the novelty for long.
Play Value
There's a decent selection of modes and multiplayer options. This would work much better if the basic game design were complex enough to support repeated playings.
 
Final Score  54  
An antiquated, lamentably simple outing with little appeal for anyone outside of hardcore fans and younger children.

Posted on 01/05/2012 | Game Played on: PS3
Neil Kapit

Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!

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