STAFF REVIEW of Dragon Ball Z for Kinect (Xbox 360)

Thursday, December 6, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect Box art Dragon Ball Z For Kinect is actually the game’s full title, just to remind you how you’re going to play it in case you forget somehow. The name says it all and you’ll be brawling in the Dragon Ball Z universe played as a first person fighting game. You’ll play as all the main staples of the series within; from Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Gohan (multiple versions), Krillin, Raditz, Buu, and many more. If you’re a fan of series this sounds awesome doesn’t it, and on paper it does seem like a great idea. But remember that the game’s title has “For Kinect” in it and you can probably guess how well this is going to go. It seems like some companies really know how to utilize and make Kinect work, whereas others don’t and tend to release fundamentally broken games that aren’t all that fun. I’ll let you decide where this one falls into place in that scale.

You’ll be punching, kicking, jumping, charging up, and performing a number of moves to battle your opponents in some large scale open arenas. Well, I should amend that statement; you’ll attempt to do all those things as battle will frequently change between melee range fighting to far ranged combat. With over fifty characters and a hundred moves, Dragon Ball Z For Kinect will attempt to make you feel like a true Super Saiyan, but the poor tracking and uninspired gameplay will make you wish you found the seven dragon balls so you could make a wish for something else.

For the first time on the consoles, you’ll be able to follow the main popular storylines from the series in a first person perspective. If you were a fan of the show as a kid you’ll be happy to know that the Story Mode covers the main battles from the Saiyan Saga (with a Great Ape Vegeta battle included), Frieza Saga, Androids Saga, and Majin Buu Saga. Surely this will bring back some memories for those that love the show and manga’s, but there’s also a catch. The story mode is very summarized and condensed and there are just over twenty battles in all of the Story Mode for all of the battle lines. With fights being only about five minutes each or so (depending on your skill level and patience) you’re going to finish this game very quickly. I’ll let you do the math, but needless to say that you’ll be able to finish it in a single standing (albeit a sweaty one). After just a few simple rounds of combat you’ll quickly realize that the combat is reparative and really uninspiring. If it wasn’t for the cutscenes before and after the fights, it would almost be a complete wash. Story Mode has a great idea behind it but only hardcore fans lokoing to remember those great storylines will be the ones enjoying it.

Since the game is in first person, your character will ‘try’ to mimic all the movements you make. Throwing punches and moving your body will be essential, and while using this view is supposed to make you feel like you’re truly a character in the universe, it’s very difficult to become absorbed with it since you can’t’ even admire yourself when you’re pretending to be Goku or your other favorite characters. While Kinect will track the basic kicks, punches, and super moves, performing many of the other moves seems like a gamble for the most part and sadly it was much easier to just flail my arms doing punches the whole round rather than actually trying to become creative with my offence by varying attacks.

Certain moves feel great performing, like when you want to charge your Ki meter by having to squat and pull your arms close to your body like you’re really charging up in the show. The same goes for the signature Kamehameha beam attack move that has you charge up like a Street Fighter Hadouken then releasing it by thrusting your arms outward just like in the anime. There is some strategy in the battles as you need to decide to make many light attacks like punches or absorb some hits and charge up for a devastating Kamehameha beam (which becomes stronger the higher your combo is).

Unless you’re playing on the most difficult setting, there’s not much challenge to be had here as every enemy practically fights the same way save for a few and you can see their attacks coming a mile away. The real challenge is getting Kinect to recognize the motion you meant to do when you have a limited time to perform it without failing. Sadly, every match plays out the exact same way where you’ll start with a barrage of punches to initiate a combo that leads into a cutscene, more punches to continue the beating, and then even more punches to finish the cutscene combo. You’ll at some point have to dodge the enemies charged attack by performing a QTE (yes, that’s right, a QTE with Kinect. You can imagine how frustrating this becomes) and then repeat the process for five minutes until you win. If, er, when you become bored you can charge up for a super attack to try and mask the repetitiveness, but even after a dozen matches or so, it won’t be as exciting any longer. Even if you’ve avoided taking damage the whole match, the enemies will taunt you with their power levels to try and convince you you’re nothing; it makes for a silly experience.

So what do you do once you beat the Story Mode in three or four hours? Well there’s a Score Attack Mode that’s included to try and convince you to continue playing. Here you go for a high score in battle, being able to choose the fighter you wish that’s been unlocked in Story Mode. Oddly enough, the bulk of the achievements are tied to Score Attack Mode, so those achievement hunters of you out there, yes, sadly you’ll have to play through the game twice to get them all. I haven’t forgotten to mention the multiplayer, there simply is none. Yup, that’s right. In a one versus one premise of a game, there is only room for a single player here. Big oversight, I know.

One of the selling points on the back of the box is that the game supports QR codes to unlock special content like characters, power ups, moves, and more. Great, I scanned the codes that were included in the box (which happen to be on the back of the cardboard Goku Hair that’s included), now where can I get more? Yea, I couldn’t find out any information either anywhere.

There’s one small saving grace for the game though, but that’s only if you’re a really big fan of the series. Included is a twenty minute film adaptation of the Dragon Ball: Epsiode of Bardock manga. The reason this is somewhat a big deal (for Dragon Ball fans) is because this is the first time the movie is released in our territory. Needless to say, if you’re a hardcore fan it’s a must, but is the full price worth a twenty minute episode?

Unless you’re an absolute hardcore Dragon Ball fan and can put your bias blinders on, there’s really little reason to play Dragon Ball Z For Kinect. Not even for the free included Goku Hair. While it’s a great idea, the execution simply doesn’t work nor is it fun. Sure it was a gag to just charge up the whole match and only use Kamehameha beam’s to win, but that amusement can only last so long when basic moves and dodges don’t always work when intended. Dragon Ball Z For Kinect: your power level is nowhere near over 9000.

Overall: 3.0 / 10
Gameplay: 2.0 / 10
Visuals: 4.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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