Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review #112: Dragon Ball Z Shin Budokai - Another Road

 Dragon Dragon, Rock the Drag-on Dragooon Baaaaall Zeeeee
 Another year, another(old) Dragon Ball Z that I get to play. Shin Budokai is the natural evolution of the Budokai games, which would latter transform into Burst Limit(Which sadly didn't get a sequel).

 The biggest change were the basic mechanics of the game. Instead of Punch and Kick, you now get Rush(weak) and Smash(Strong) attacks, the Smash Attack being comboable from Rush attacks, and can be charged. Special moves got reduced to 3 per character, Back+Ki and Forward+Ki are the special attacks, while Up+Ki produces the Ultimate attack, which consume 5 stocks of the Ki bar. Pressing Down+Ki is the Transformation, if your character has one. This also means that the whole Capsule System was scrapped, thankfully, since you now get a full moveset from the outset. Regarding transformations, probably due to the PSP's limitations, you can only have one. Which means that when you pick Goku, you either pick SSJ1, SSJ2, SSJ3 or SSJ4, and you go from Base Goku to the form you picked. You still get a Guard button, and tapping it alongside the directional pad towards your opponent, makes you dodge their attacks and appear behind them. Lastly, there are new Burst Aura mechanics tied to the R Button, you can grant yourself invulnerability, chase attacks, sidestep faster, stunning attacks and enter a Super Armor mode. All these new mechanics... you must learn by yourself. The manual doesn't have any information about them, and there is no tutorial, maybe the game expects you to come from Shin Budokai 1? Regardless, you must learn this by yourself.
 There's a nice variety of modes: Another Road(Story Mode), Arcade Mode(Self explanatory), Z Trial(Which houses Survival, Challenge and various routes of Time Attack), Network Battle(Self explanatory) and Training(Self explanatory). Notice anything? There is no "Versus CPU" mode. While you can emulate matches in Training Mode, it's not the same. Why it wasn't included is beyond me. Story Mode sounded really good on paper, you play as Trunks once he returned to his timeline, and must now face the Buu threat, which makes sense. Trunks then goes back in time to bring the Z-Fighters, post Buu saga, to his time in order to defeat Buu now. And then it all goes down the drain. The script is terrible, in the franchise, post Buu Vegeta is a very different man from, say, Cell Saga Vegeta... but now Vegeta is back to his murderous self(Probably because that's how he got most of his fans, and how he is mostly remembered for). They also rehash plot devices, like Vegeta letting himself get possessed by Babidi. Again. Which is really dumb. Gohan, who is now in Ultimate Gohan form and no longer needs to go Super Saiyan... goes Super Saiyan. And they completely botched the power levels, having Bardock(Who has gained popularity, so now they are putting him in every game) fight Pikkon and Ultimate Gohan to a standstill. And Goku meeting his real father for the first time is never touched upon besides "Now that my father is here bla bla". And the story quickly dumbs down to "Babidi created clones of everyone, you must now fight everyone's clones".

 The story is terrible, yes, but what about the mode itself? Most "stages" on each chapter place you on a field, in which enemy units target you or cities. You fly around and when you make contact with an enemy unit, you engage on a 1 on 1 battle. You can also heal yourself, and the cities, by standing over them This mode is impossibly repetitive, they usually resort to having you fight the same enemies over and over again. Sometimes the enemies have Senzu beans which double as lives... so you must fight them again. Chapter four is the worst by far, each mission in the chapter has you fighting the same Meta-Cooler enemies, and in one mission, you have to survive 300 seconds of endless Meta-Cooler clones. The fights are not terribly hard, they are just terribly boring! Plus, every time you engage an enemy, they have to trade one liners with your character, then fight, and after there is another winner... another one liner. These dialogue bubbles can be skipped by pressing start, but they still take 2-3 seconds to load before you can skip them, coupled with how many times you have to fight the same enemies over and over again.... it's quite vexing.
 The game offers a respectable roster of about 18 characters. Most characters are very different from one another, except maybe Goku and Adult Gohan. While Transformations tend to have at least one different special move, they do share the basic moveset. The game offers a very simple customization system, each character has a nine slot grid where you can attach cards, that you earn after each fight in story mode or that you can buy with money earned by battling, these cards raise the stats of your character. I'd rather have this than having my movesets crippled due to my lack of capsules, like the Budokai series. Lastly, the Challenge Mode offers 50 different challenges, some as dumb as performing a Ultimate attack, to some harder one like dealing a certain amount of damage in one combo.

 The overall presentation is excellent, character models are bright, colorful and detailed, and they move just as they did in the Budokai series. Movement and action is very smooth, with rare instances of slowdown when using the Aura to parry certain beam attacks. The game offers dual voice acting, English and Japanese, I can't speak for the English dub, but the Japanese dub is spot-on. Music is all taken from the Budokai series, I never cared too much for the Budokai music, but it's alright.

 Without having to endure such a tedious Story Mode to unlock everything, the game might've beeen more enjoyable as a whole, as the fast, smooth revamped gameplay is very entertaining. Not having a conventional VS CPU mode sucks, but there are plenty of Single Player modes to occupy your time.
 7.5 out of 10.

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