Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit Preview - 01/04/2008

For a series that started in the late 1980s there is no doubt that Dragon Ball definitely has a staying power with fans, as well as being able to attract newcomers to the franchise. It has made billions in merchandising over the years and still stands strong in today's community with constant videogame releases that never fail to appear each year on multiple platforms.

The series achieved most of its fame under the name Dragon Ball Z which tells the story of the now-grown-up main character Goku as well as those of his friends and their families in their efforts to save the earth from multiple alien threats. The videogame franchise for the manga effectively achieved fame with its fans under the Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi titles, providing an experience true to the TV series, spanning all of its multiple seasons, offering all the main characters as playable entities, and providing a fairly strong and deep fighter for followers and newcomers alike.

Although the Dragon Ball Z games may be immediately dismissed by gamers searching for a good fighting game due to its cartoony appearance, this is where most would go wrong. Under its cartoonish appearance is a highly in-depth fighting mechanism that consists of multiple attacks, special moves, blocks, counter attacks, combos and terrain manipulation. It could be said that the Dragon Ball Z games are in fact deeper and more complex than the like of Tekken or Street Fighter and could easily keep the most accomplished beat-em-up gamers preoccupied for a long while.

The first next-gen outing for the Dragon Ball series.

Burst Limit is the series' first foray into the next gen era. One of the gripes that could be put on the PS2 DBZ games would be the lack of any true innovation and gameplay evolution in the subsequent sequels, so what can the extra power of next-gen systems do about this? Well at first look the extra power boost has provided us with the most solid looking characters to date in a DBZ game seemingly blending the 3D look of the first Budokai game with the cell shaded look of later games to provide the most detailed character replications ever. Furthermore the stages have much more detail, seem to have a wider combat area and you should expect there to be increased terrain deformation and the like.

The outrageous special moves are more vibrant than ever and the colours and explosions look absolutely breathtaking. Another staple of the DBZ series which adds to its depth is the sheer speed of the fighting. The DBZ games were some of the fastest fighting games ever and this is no exception; you have to be really skilled at the game to be able to get the most out of it and respond to how fast the characters and indeed the actual fight is moving. Producing the right block and counter at the right time and then finishing up with an awesome combo and special move is sometimes vital to winning a bout.

It's a really popular franchise, but for those who aren't fans, the games are often looked down upon.

New features of the game are Drama Pieces and Aura Spark mode. Using Drama Pieces you can call a friendly computer character into the fight to help you against your opponent. Said character will aid you with things like blocking special moves, regenerating your health or increasing your defence power. Aura Spark mode is initiated at the press of a button and gives your attacks extra oomph, increasing your damage, making some attacks unblockable and increasing the amount of special moves you can use. Also, using the Aura Smash attack will send the two fighters flying across the stage battling at breakneck speeds.

As far as storyline goes, Burst Limit will contain all plots from the Saiyan Saga up until the end of the Cell Saga. That's season 1 to 5 of the TV show and mirrors the content of the first Budokai game on PS2. There will be 21 characters available to play as in the game and fans can expect all the staple faces and their relevant transformations (Super Saiyan, etc) and there will be 5 stages to fight in, which although seem few, might be more than enough if the developers flesh them out effectively.

The multiplayer should be fantastic.

Game modes include the normal Story mode that will encompass the plot of the first 5 seasons of the TV series, a VS mode so that you can battle a mate, a survival mode, and a few modes that are yet to be announced. Also, for the first time in a DBZ game, to the pleasure of fans everywhere no doubt, an online mode which will allow you to battle people all over the world and track your progress on leader boards and ranking systems has been included. Upgradeable characters have yet to be mentioned but I would hazard a guess that some sort of customisation option will be present.

So DBZ's first outing on next-gen hardware seems promising but I presume that the same trend will follow where nobody but fans of the series purchase the game as newcomers will be put off by its look, even though a highly complex, in depth and accomplished fighter resides beneath its cartoonish exterior. We'll just have to wait and see.

- Alex Goodenough


Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai
PS3 - 360