FutureFive NZ - Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai

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Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai

Dragon Ball Z - for some, the name calls to mind an incomprehensible cartoon in which each character is from a different planet, nobody stays dead, and everyone’s hair keeps changing colour (and looks like a hedge growing out of their head). For others, it’s a brilliant epic chronicling a battle for supremacy between beings with the power of gods, with Earth itself hanging in the balance. Whichever your take is, you have to admit that the first DBZ fighting game on PSP is actually pretty good. The storyline (based loosely on the DBZ film Fusion Reborn) is absurd at best and hopeless at worst. But that’s part of the charm. And since the narrative passes in quickly-skipped dialogue boxes so you can get back to throwing one another into mountains, it’s hardly a problem. Getting through the story-mode is certainly worth your time though as you can unlock the full suite of 18 characters, which is a goal worth achieving. Dimps has created a simplistic but fun and accessible core combat system. The basics are light on complex combos and heavy on the use of Ki, which builds through fighting or by holding the L button. Build enough Ki and characters can launch special attacks and even change into more powerful forms. The controls are simple - a couple of punches, a block and special attack - which keeps the action super-accessible. The analogue stick is extremely responsive, which is helpful as flying battles require fast dodging in nearly every direction. As with all of the previous Budokai titles, counters and defence play a large part, and timing of a block can redirect an opponent’s energy beam or simply gut-punch them with a counter attack. Battles easily launch into the air, where characters dive and circle around one another, blasting away with vicious energy attacks and old-fashioned fisticuffs. Even when a fight degenerates into alternating rounds of special attacks and blocking (which happens pretty often) the simple outrageousness of the action keeps it afloat. The crucial ingredient are the colourful graphics, which borrow animations from the PS2 DBZ Budokai games. The character designs are spot-on and the effects full of line-drawn explosions; as special “Ki” attacks get bigger and bigger the entire screen fills with sizzling energy. Written by Russ “Super-Saiyan” Fischer

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