"No Wishes Granted"
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect was always going to be in an uphill battle with whomever the title is aimed at. Spike Chunsoft's and Namco's latest title in the Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi series of fighting games is a cinematic first-person fighting game that feels very gimmicky and requires too much effort to make any sense of its gameplay.
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is a gesture-based fighting game that contains two modes: Story and Score Attack. Story is basically a series of battle through the perspective of various characters and is the primary way of unlocking content for score attack, which is where the game's replay value comes from. Fellow newcomers beware, based on story alone: this is not the game in the series that will get you acquainted with the series' story. Starting story mode drops you directly into a battle with little set up and is more of a "best of" deal, using the game's main gimmick: its Kinect-based, gesture-focused gameplay.
Similar to Ubisoft's PowerUp Heroes, all actions in Dragon Ball Z for Kinect are gesture-based and displayed on the right side of the screen. Players are able to punch at the air to start a martial art combo, shoot Ki-blasts, guard or dodge attacks through this system, depending on if the battle is in the air or on the ground. Where this game differs from PowerUp Heroes is that multiple actions aren't usually displayed - only one action is displayed at a time and is the suggested one to be used at that moment.
With the gameplay and its motion focus being the only thing to separate Dragon Ball Z for Kinect from being just another title in the Tenkaichi series, a lot is riding on it, and the title falls flat as a result. Simply put, the gameplay is too erratic and it felt as if I were flailing the whole time The player detection is off, and there were plenty of times that I was executing the action to throw a Ki-blast and instead would get a Kamehameha (think Hadouken), which is a charge move. For a game that requires such static poses, there is a lot of space required, which makes the game feel rushed.
Aside from the controls not operating right, the flow of the battles makes everything feel automated. Surem the game is licensed and takes on the story of a dramatic anime, but the battles I played felt more like I was playing a slightly more interactive version of Dragon's Lair. Characters randomly take the battles to the air, where battles become focused on long distance combat; and despite the game telling you how to interrupt the enemy's power-up attacks, they still come out somehow. At one point, I thought I was going to definitely lose a battle, and all of a sudden, I won because my character triggered an attack that just instantly killed his enemy. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect features a tutorial mode that explains the gameplay systems, but going through it would require a play session before getting to the meat of the game, which is too much for a non-exercise game that requires you to stand in order to play.
The one absolute bright spot of Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is its graphics and audio. While not giving any AAA title released this year a run for its money, it does look nice and looks similar to the other Dragon Ball titles released this gen, and combined with the voice overs, the game feels like a loosely interactive episode of the show.
Like PowerUp Heroes before it, Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is another strike against fighting games on Kinect. The gameplay is very confusing, and once the initial love affair of "getting points for acting like the boy on YouTube" is done with, there is really no reason to continue playing. Sure, the game has a ton of playable characters, but so do the other numerous Dragon Ball Z titles released this gen.
GameDynamo's Score for Dragon Ball Z for Kinect (X360)
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