Dragon Ball Raging Blast
The Dragon Ball range of fighting games has been going on for donkeys’ years. Practically every console in the past two or three generations has been littered with Dragon Ball games. And for good reason! The premise of the show is spot on for a fighting game, and the popularity of the series means that the games are a surefire moneymaker. However, this latest generation has been oddly lacking when it comes to the volume of Dragon Ball material; only Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit for PS3 and 360, and a handful of DS games make up this generation’s Dragon Ball spread. That is, until now. Where Burst Limit built upon the Budokai formula that rose to success on the PS2, Raging Blast plays more like the Tenkaichi line of games.
For the unfamiliar, that means that the game breaks fighting game tradition. Instead of putting one character on each side of the screen with a fixed camera, Raging Blast opts for an over-the-shoulder view that gives the initial feeling of a third-person shooter. Fighters can zip all around the large arenas, locking onto their opponent to deliver punches and kicks, or pelting them with energy blasts from afar. It seems a little odd at first, but after a while it feels quite natural. The only problem with this system is the pesky camera, which occasionally gets stuck on bits of terrain during particularly hectic fights.
“The AI will kick your ass up and down the map until you master the controls”The combat itself is fairly straightforward. There is only one button for melee attacks; however, combos can be created by peppering other button presses in between melee strikes. Every character has a signature move, as well as the ability to dash or fire Ki blasts. These abilities are all mapped to the four face buttons, so it all feels quite simple. However, Raging Blast is no slouch. The AI will kick your ass up and down the map until you master the controls. While all the moves are easy to perform, knowing when to perform them is harder, and messing up will likely result in watching your character get kicked around the battlefield by Frieza for five minutes.
And not just Frieza, either. Raging Blast covers a massive amount of territory in the Z universe, starting with Goku’s Saiyan heritage and ending with a series of brutal “what if?” fights that ramp up the already sizable difficulty to ridiculous levels. Still, if the nearly-400 episodes of Dragon Ball Z meant anything to you in your childhood, the amount of content in Raging Blast is sure to make you smile. For fighting game enthusiasts and Dragon Ball fans alike, the huge array of characters will also add a lot to Raging Blast‘s overall value. Considering that Dragon Ball games used to be a dime a dozen, Raging Blast feels like a carefully crafted love letter to the series, with enough content to last players months – and if they get tired of the absolutely massive campaign, there’s always the online play.
“Characters are lovingly rendered in cel-shaded 3D, evoking the style of the TV show perfectly”Compared to the excellent amount of content, the presentation is a bit rocky. The game features lots of great cutscenes, but many of them lack any sort of context for people who don’t remember their Dragon Ball lore. More in-depth story items are discussed in text before each mission, but these do little to set up the actual situations depicted in scenes and fights. However, the scenes that are present are well (at least, by nostalgic standards) acted and animated. Characters are lovingly rendered in cel-shaded 3D, evoking the style of the TV show perfectly. Unfortunately, the environments are decidedly less pretty. The arenas are a small collection of bland landscapes, covered in muddy textures and low-poly mountains. In motion, fights look fantastic; fighters animate beautifully. However, looking around the battlefield, things appear a tad less polished.
Dragon Ball Raging Blast is best when viewed as a nostalgia piece. The sheer amount of Dragon Ball related material in the game is staggering, and for fans, presents a wonderful value. For the uninitiated though, the package isn’t quite as rounded. The fights teeter between being too simple and absolutely infuriating, and the gigantic campaign will mean nothing to people experiencing Dragon Ball for the first time. Raging Blast succeeds in delivering an authentic Z fighting experience that non-fans might have a harder time getting into.