Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: June 22, 2004 Also On: None

There are some things that are just hard to believe, even though they are statistically very possible. A good boy band. A Vin Diesel film that’s interesting. A Dragon Ball Z game that doesn’t suck. All hard to believe? Yes. Impossible? No (well the first two are impossible). Dragon Ball Z: Super Sonic Warriors breaks the trend of terrible DBZ games by releasing a fun, as well as interesting fighting game.

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There have been over 30 DBZ games, yet I could only count 4 of those games that were actually fun. Those 4 games could be broken into two categories (two games per category); tournament style fighting and “action packed� fighting. Tournament style fighting is the type of fighting what you see in the Virtua Fighter games, where two characters fight in a rather small arena. Another characteristic of TS fighting is that the fighters are relatively slow (meaning that a fighter can’t travel half of a huge arena in a couple of seconds). Because of the small arena and the lack of speed of the characters, it’s hard to escape. TS fighting games usually force fighters to constantly fight, and only allows the fighter to back away for a couple of seconds.

I’m not really a huge expert on fighting games, but I know enough that the ability to escape easily adds a lot more strategy to a fighting game (i.e. “How can I make sure that ****** won’t run away?�). That is why I like “action packed fighting.� In AP fighting, characters can travel a lot of ground (or sky) in a very short amount of time. DBZ: Legends, a lesser known DBZ game for the PS1 (which also happens to be my favorite game of the series, as well as one of my favorite fighting games ever) is an AP fighting game. Super Smash Brothers Melee is an AP fighting game. DBZ: Super Sonic Warriors is an AP fighting game. To put it into one sentence, I prefer AP fighting games to TS fighting games because there is much more strategy involved.

The control scheme is as follows. The D-Pad controls your character’s movement. The B button is a weak physical attack. The A button is a strong physical attack. The R button is to power up. The L button is to switch between characters and to teleport. Pressing the B button while pressing the R button will allow your character to shoot a weak Ki blast, while pressing the A button while pressing the R button will allow your character to shoot a very strong Ki Blast. Pressing A and B at the same time will allow your character to perform a pretty strong finishing move. Using other combinations involving the D-Pad and the rest of the buttons will allow your character to perform various moves such as my personal favorite, the Big Bang Attack.

As I said in the beginning of this review, there were only 4 DBZ games that I actually liked. They are DBZ: Legends, DBZ: Shin Butouden for the Saturn, DBZ: Hyper Dimension for the SNES, and DBZ: Super Sonic Warriors. Each game is different in its own way, however the thing that DBZ: SSW has that the rest of the games on the list don’t is the normal health bar system. If you ever played a normal fighting game, there are two characters with limited health. The player whose health is depleted first loses. That’s my biggest problem with this game. DBZ was all about the underdog with very little health winning because he managed to power up a lot. That was the real thrill of the fights in the series. DBZ: Legends didn’t have a normal health bar system. Instead, it was multiple big tug-of-war matches where the winner would perform one of their huge Ki blasts. DBZ: Shin Butouden didn’t have a normal health bar system, because any time you performed one of your special energy attacks, you lose health. This prevented a player performing the same move over and over again (a huge flaw in DBZ: Budokai 1 and 2). DBZ: Hyper Dimension didn’t have a normal health bar system, because you could slowly recover your health by powering up. While this may seem insignificant to some if not most, it really adds to the strategy of the game.

DBZ: SSW is home to an engorgement of different modes of play. There is the popular story mode where you get to take part in DBZ’s epic story. Not only do you get to play through each saga, but you could also play through the nicely done IF story modes. This is where you get to see what would happen if something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. What happened IF Frieza beat Goku? What if Buu beat everyone? The thing I liked about the IF story modes was that they were all logically done. If those events in the IF story mode occurred, the ending would be extremely similar. My favorite IF story mode (at the time of writing this review, which means I didn’t beat them all yet) is the Android 18 IF story mode. Any DBZ fan will appreciate what Banpresto/Arc systems did.

There are also lesser known modes. There is the challenge mode where you take a team of three characters and verse other computer-controlled teams. There is a Z Battle mode where you can take 1-3 characters and verse 8 opponents. Remember that the group level cannot exceed 4 (each character has 3 levels, 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest). So if you choose 2 level 2 characters, you cannot get a third fighter. The free battle mode is pretty much the same thing as the Z Battle, but level limits (so you can have 3 level 3 fighters). My favorite mode is the Link Vs. mode. Not because the single player isn’t good (it’s quite the opposite), but because the Link Vs. mode is so fun. The thing that makes the game so addictive is the shop feature where you can purchase harder difficulties as well as new forms of characters (such as Majin Vegeta). The only way you can get points to spend in the shop is by either playing the story mode or the challenge mode.

There are 13 fighters in the game. While some are rather similar to other fighters, some characters (like Android 18 and Dr.Gero) happen to be very different. There is a rather good balance between the characters.

The graphics are very well done. The characters are 2D and the backgrounds have a psuedo-3D feel. The only real flaw of the graphics is that the big energy attacks don’t really look that different. Nearly all the energy attacks are yellow (even though Goku’s Kamehameha is blue). The cutscenes in the story mode are like the cutscenes in Fire Emblem, which really isn’t that bad for the GBA.

As for the sound, I loved it. Though I found the music tracks rather repetitive, they were nice to hear. The best part about the sound in this game is that the real voice actors from the US version of the show. There hasn’t been much voice acting in most GBA games, so this was a really nice touch.

I got about 15 hours out of the single player features and about 7 hours from the multiplayer features. I expect to put in another 5-8 hours into this game. If you think about it 27-30 hours, really isn’t that bad for a GBA game. There hasn’t been a GBA that I’ve played this long for a while.

The real irony of this game was that Atari didn’t make it. Remember Taiketsu? If you didn’t purchase it, you’re lucky. The game was horrid. Don’t just ask me; ask the entire gaming community. It’s amazing, a company that had NO experience making DBZ games ends up making one of the best DBZ games to date (though that really isn’t saying much). What’s even worse is that this is a GBA game! Not a PS2/GCN game, a game that is on 32-bit console! Though the game itself made me happy, it only showed how poorly Atari is trying to please the DBZ fans. Maybe Atari will get some pointers from Banpresto/Arc Systems or maybe they won’t bother because they know the have a franchise that will sell no matter how much they damage DBZ’s good name. Atari will still create DBZ games, but I doubt they will ever be this good.

Cutting to the point, DBZ: SSW is not only one of the best DBZ games to date, but also the best fighting game for the GBA. While the health bar system stops the game from being a real deep strategy fighting game, I still had a lot of fun with this game. Get DBZ: SSW if you’re a DBZ fan or a fighting game fan. Fans of neither should probably wait after the first or second price cut occurs. That said, I hope enjoy your future fights.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.8
Written by Simon Review Guide

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