No other anime franchise was able to capitalize on the fighting game market like Dragon Ball Z did in the last two decades. Thus, the 3DS is now also blessed with its own battle experience inspired by Akira Toriyama’s manga universe. The recognizable veteran studio Arc System Works was chosen to perform this task, which is commonly known for the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series. Let’s see how well their experience will carry over to this franchise.
Meet the unplayables
As expected from a Dragon Ball Z game, Extreme Butoden features over 100 characters in its roster, which definitely sounds incredible on paper. However, only 25 of those are actually playable, since the other 75 are just support units the player can call to perform an attack. What seem to be major characters like Gogeta are merely used for support purposes, which hampers a true fan’s experience drastically. To top it off, transformations like SSJ have their own character slot, limiting the actual character pool even further. The game’s story mode consists of a collection of major plot fights from the Z saga, destined to get repetitive very fast since you have to fight with endless and uninspiring dialog along accompanied by static sprites. On the contrary, the tournament mode tends to be fun and quite challenging compared to the other ones. Currently, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden only features local multiplayer, meaning you need another 3DS and another copy of the game to play with friends. Fortunately, a patch adding online multiplayer will be released in near future.
Pressing all the buttons
Gameplay-wise Extreme Butoden is your typical Arc System Works Beat’em Up. It succeeds in being really fluent as well as responsive, offering many combos for every character. You will immediately notice that 2D fighters are their bread and butter. Regardless of the well-designed combo system, the game heavily encourages button mashing, as spamming special attacks will mostly lead to an easy victory. This is a known flaw in Arc System Works’ games but that does not mean the game is not balanced. It just means there will be always this one guy spamming KI blasts.
Old but gold
As flashy and polished titles like Xenoverse looked, the 2D sprites still maintain a certain charm and will never lose their touch. Some might think the chosen style should balance the lacking hardware, but this is what Arc System Works excels at. The sprites are portraying every character spot-on and the animations are just as fluid as they are beautiful. Butoden‘s backgrounds tend to lack some charm, but between clashing fists and energy beams this flaw is barely noticeable. Surprisingly, the game never had to deal with any FPS issues, even when multiple characters hogged the screen.
Kamehameha to go
It’s beyond question that 3DS may have not been the optimal platform for Arc System Works to choose for their initial Dragon Ball game. Yet, it is also the first title in a while which went back to the franchise’s 2D fighting roots. Since Burst Limit, there hasn’t been a 2D Dragon Ball title that executed the old-school fighting game style so well. Nostalgic fans should definitely consider picking up this enjoyable to-go brawler, especially due to the lack of good mobile Dragon Ball games and Extreme Butoden‘s low price point. A Kamehameha to go is great, but definitely has its costs – just saiyan.
What we liked
- Proven 2D fighter mechanics
- Fluid and responsive combat
- Beautiful sprites
What we didn’t like
- Small playable roster
- Encouraged button mashing
- Currently no online mode
This article was written by using a 3DS review code provided by Bandai Namco. Are you satisfied with the first Dragon Ball Z title for 3DS? What is your favorite character? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!