Dragon Ball: Raging Blast Review
Dragon Ball Z games keep selling year after year. It's actually quite amazing when you consider that a decade ago a copy of Dragon Ball Final Bout GT would fetch for hundreds, and its rarity was only due to the fact that no one bought the game. And no one bought the game because it was awful. So at that point in the 90s, we were convinced that seeing a new Dragon Ball game on a console, let alone a good one, would likely never happen. But it did, with Budokai...but then the games got progressively worse as countless DBZ assaulted retail space year after year. Just last year we had Dragon Ball: Burst Limit, and this year it's Raging Blast.
I'd reckon that people who bought Burst Limit found themselves pretty miffed when they found out about Raging Blast and its scenario layout. Where as Burst Limit captured the Saiyan and Cell Games story arcs, Raging Blast captures a plethora more. In fact, some of the biggest and most memorable story arcs the anime has ever had can be experienced in Raging Blast, as there are over 100 battles in total spanning all of the arcs. The campaign mode allows you not to just recreate the battles and stories as they happened, but also rewrite them, which will unlock secret cutscenes. Unfortunately, the campaign mode hits a major crater in the road...
You see, as I began to dive into the different scenarios, I noticed something off with each one of them...I thought to myself that maybe it's been a while since I've seen the cartoon so perhaps I'm not sharp on the dialogue and such. But then, after a bit of playing, it dawned on me, a lot of these episodes are online, so a quick YouTube search made it apparent that Spike cut corners and left out the authenticity this game should've rightfully had. Was it so hard to reuse the original dialogue or even use the original audio from the anime? The cutscenes here and their respective dialogue bear very little resemblance to the original it borrows from.
So what's the point of loading this game with all of this content, if it's so...wrong? Shouldn't the entire focus be aimed at pinning nostalgia and not stomping on your memories? It's like releasing a Metal Gear Solid Compilation and changing around the dialogue and voice acting, which we all know to be a staple of the franchise. I mean, we remember how nutty MGS fans went when they changed the voice of Mei Ling for the GameCube game, right? Point made.
What you have left is a game that plays very much like the last game. The game mechanics aren't exactly what I'd call deep, and you can get through the battles simply mashing away at the same combo over and over again. Yes, if you dig a little you'll find a number of other attacks that are surely much more fulfilling than just repeating the same crap over and over again. Now, having said that, if you liked Burst Limit and don't mind more of the same, there are over 120 characters to play with, but that number includes transformations and costume changes. Taking costumes out of the equation, there are just over 70 fighters, and 43 without transformations. A set of 10 different stages will act out as your battleground, all of which are fully destructible. Unfortunately, most of the stages aren't very pretty to look at, or a whole lot of fun to fight in, despite the deformation. On top of that, with over 100 battles, it becomes painfully clear that 10 stages is not enough.
Team battles allow for character switching on the fly, much like what Capcom offers in the "Vs." games. Which leads me to the multiplayer aspect, as it is perhaps the best thing the game has going for it. If you like the game mechanics here, then you should find yourself enjoying the battles online. There are tournaments to setup in the World Tournament mode, but I do have one warning for you...it may be a bit tricky finding good fights. I've encountered fighters who, literally, spam the same attack over and over again (I can only assume they're young teenage kids). On the other hand, I've also encountered no fights at all, sometimes. So, if you have a few friends who mutually share your interest in DBZ, link up with them or find a group on a gaming forum.
Raging Blast is a pretty good looking game, overall. The environments are, perhaps, a bit barren, but they do a decent enough job of mimicking the locales of the series. Also, I do wish for a proper gore option in these games, to capture the look of the Japanese version, which as many should know was pretty graphic in the gore department. Of course that may cut into sales, but it surely would appeal to the hardcore DBZ fan even more. That said, the character detail is pretty good, not leaps and bounds different than the last game, but definitely a bit more polished and smoother, overall. Seeing as how this game does run at 60 frames per second, and the resolution is a full 720p, it helps earn Raging Blast a few extra points.
To me, what should drive a game like this is the audio. But as I mentioned, the dialogue has not been pulled out of the original series, nor do the voice actors re-enact those lines. So the game audio isn't very faithful to the anime, and even though I'm not a hardcore fan by any means, I do know enough to be disappointed here. And I'm disappointed, I full-well expect disappointment from the core fanbase.
Dragon Ball: Raging Blast offers a ton of content for you to wade through, there's no doubt about it. But it lacks the nostalgia and authenticity to really make you enjoy the experience. If you can get past certain quirks, then the hardcore Dragon Ball fan within may find some pleasure out of Raging Blast. But if you were looking for a bigger step up in game mechanics, and not just a large campaign mode, maybe you should hold off until the next iteration, which Spike will inevitably make sometime soon. If you're still not sure, at least hold off until the price drops to something like $30.
12/6/2009 Arnold Katayev