Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z Review (X360)

Dragon Ball Z Deserves Better

Battle of Z box. Bandai Namco

Remember all the crazy big team battles in Dragon Ball Z where the Z Warriors all fought at the same time against super powered enemies?  Yeah, me neither.  But that is the core concept of the latest DBZ fighting game from Bandai Namco, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z.  The weirdness of team battles aside, Battle of Z's bland fighting mechanics, lack of local multiplayer, and bogus character count don't do it any favors either.  See all of the details here in our full Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z review.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Bandai Namco
  • Developer: Artdink
  • ESRB Rating: “T for Teen"
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros:  Decent visuals; fresh take on DBZ
  • Cons:  The fighting is boring; team battles are the opposite of DBZ; artificially inflated character count; no local play


Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z features a loose retelling (very loose - the stories had to be rewritten to accommodate the extra characters flying around) of all of the major story arcs from DBZ.  From the Saiyan Saga to the Buu Saga, it is all here.  The twist, however, is that the focus is on team battles now where up to 8 characters can all be on the map at once fighting it out.  How many times did this ever actually happen in the series, though?  Maybe a time or two, but then Yamcha and Krillin would get taken out in 30-seconds and the show would go on to a 1-on-1 fight for the next fifteen episodes.  Instead, we have crazy team fights in Battle of Z that are totally out of place.

The game promises more than 60 selectable characters, but that number is greatly inflated by the fact that character transformations count as multiple characters.  You don't get to change from Goku to SSJ, SSJ2, SSJ3, etc. in fights.  Instead you select which one you want from the start.  So there are a bunch of Gokus, a bunch of Cells, a bunch of Friezas, a bunch of Vegetas, and so forth.  It is like racing games hyping up having a million different Civics and Supras.  Yeah, they're all different, but they're kinda not. 

Strangely enough, despite the team fighting aspect at the core of Battle for Z, there are no local multiplayer options in the game at all.  Yes, a fighting game with no local couch multiplayer.  Absolutely nuts.  You can play full 8-player battles on Xbox Live, of course, but not having any local play is a major oversight.  The multiplayer on Xbox Live is quite fun, but you have to unlock pretty much everything by slogging through the single-player. 


The gameplay in Battle for Z is sort of a mix between a very basic fighting game with an action RPG.  Each character has a different role to play in battles - some are melee, some are projectile focused, some are support focused, etc. and have different powers.  You also have to revive characters that get knocked out (but only a certain number of times before you lose the fight) and also have to occasionally give energy to other characters or team up on an opponent with specific timing to do maximum damage.  It actually sort of feels almost like an action RPG like Tales of Vesperia.

The actual fighting here is very basic.  You have a button for melee and a button for projectiles, and two buttons to control your flight up and down.  Different attacks are based on positioning and amount of Ki energy and stuff like that.  In execution, however, it is just a lot of button mashing until the enemy health bar is depleted.  It looks big and flashy, but becomes clear that it is shallow and unrewarding and repetitive almost immediately.  Another problem comes from the fact the fights take place in huge open areas (to have enough room for 8 players flying all over the place) which makes it hard to keep track of where everyone is and what is going on.  It is impossible to fight without relying heavily on the lock-on system to focus on an enemy, and even when you're locked on you're still not guaranteed to actually hit them with your attacks no matter how close you are. 

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is pretty good overall.  The characters look really good out on the battlefield and the special effects for all of the energy attacks and explosions are great.  The environments are appropriately barren wasteland-y, just like the show.  On the other hand, the menus are some of the least intuitive we used outside of a Kinect game in forever.

The sound is solid.  The voice actors are all just right and the music and sound effects are all just like they should be.  It's DBZ.

Bottom Line

All in all, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is a hard game to get into even for DBZ die-hards.  It isn't that the team battle aspect is that big of a problem - I'd be willing to accept it even if it isn't true to the series at all if it weren't all executed so poorly.  The fighting is simplistic and boring.  The camera is awful and fights are hard to follow.  Babysitting your A.I. teammates in battle is no fun.  There is no local multiplayer.  Battle of Z just isn't a fun game.  I recommend playing Budokai 3 in the DBZ Budokai HD Collection or the newer Dragon Ball Xenoverse instead.        

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.