Review by Kain Stryder
"My God, I Never Thought I'd See This Day..."
This can't be real. It just can't. A Gameboy Advance game, not a PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and all the old systems, outdoes every single attempt at a Dragon Ball Z fighting game? And it's made by a company who has 0 experience in DBZ games? Well, that's the first surprise. The second surprise is that it's the first DBZ game that actually captured the show's insane battles and it isn't close. Nope, actually, it's right on the damn mark and that's the most surprising thing, outdoing Bandai AND Atari COMBINED. In the past, DBZ games have been looked upon as the run of the mill RPGs, fighters, etc and who can blame them. Most of them were, exceeding only here and there in the graphics and sometimes gameplay department.
Although let's ignore the RPG ones, as they aren't up for review here. Just about every DBZ fighter that has come out has been terrible, except Hyper Dimension. Fan or not, you have to agree that Hyper Dimension had one HELL of a great Battle System. Even then, looked upon as the ''best'' DBZ fighting game there was, (Although some claim those Budokai ones are the best...) today, well, it hands its rank over to Bukuu Tougeki and takes a seat at 2nd best now. I thought I'd never see the day when a DBZ game would beat Hyper Dimension...today, though, is that day...
Story: You're probably thinking ''Oh, let me guess. Radditz-Majin Buu story or whatever, yay,'' right? Sort of, but it has an interesting twist this time. The ''story'', which is only viewable if you choose to play Story Mode, allows you to choose the character of your picking and play through the events that they fought in during the DBZ storyline. But it doesn't stop there. Called ''IFs'' in a sense, it brings up the question of ''What if Ginyu defeated Goku?'' or ''What if Vegeta became a Super Saiyajin and not Goku and fought Frieza?'' Well, you'll find that out, as if you play as Ginyu, for example, you will play through the time he was in the story, then even past that part and see a ''special'' ending for him at the very end.
Each character has this type of story, though and the time period ranges from Goku VS. Vegeta on Earth up until Super Buu, yes, not Kid Buu, is defeated. The game can start at any point from there and not ALL characters start at the beginning of the Goku VS. Vegeta era. Take Gotenks for example. He starts at the Buu Saga, but through some weird events, he time travels and fights others...yeah, play and you'll see what I mean. Over all, though, with each story relatively unique to each character and a ending scene especially for them, it's a breath of fresh air to a already done to the death series known for its repetitive story lines. With a feel of a ''real'' fighting game's story and some interesting, yet here and there funny endings, Bukuu Tougeki hits home in this area with a perfect score so far.
Controls: One of the things that surprised me greatly when I first played the game. One was the gameplay and the second was the controls. Not only were they smooth and responsive to the commands I input, but grasping the Battle System is so ridiculously easy, anyone can master it and have fun within minutes. For example, each character in the game has the exact same move list, which, yes is repetitive and rather boring in a sense, but due to this, you can play as any character you wish instantly and have fun with them. (I also imagine the same move list was implanted into the game due to the limitations of how many buttons the GBA has.)
Over all, though, I have no real complaints about the controls, since most DBZ games in the past have had top quality ones. I guess they could've maybe made a few more melee attacks instead of relying on Ki blasts for the most part, but with how well they covered the grappling, really, I couldn't have asked for more.
Graphics: You can't not like these graphics. Compared to Taiketsu, they're a blessing. Atari, take some notes here, since this is how the DBZ characters should look, ok? Arc System Works really outdid themselves here, as for a GBA game, everything is so very well detailed and drawn. Starting with the characters themselves, they actually look like their counterparts from the show, mark for mark, each with a whole bunch of different color palettes used and not just bland colors either. This also goes for the backgrounds and cutscenes, as they are top of the line perfect. From the areas you fight on, showing you a lush landscape and the planet moving around you as you assault your opponent, from the Fire Emblem style of cutscenes and dialogue.
What surprised me though was how most of the characters' design had been touched up. For example, if you take, say, Dr. Gero and look at him in the game compared to the manga, he looks a bit different. I'm guessing they did this to reflect back on Toriyama's current artwork style, since DBZ does date back rather far. I like the ''new'' look and it's rather nice when each character has different animations in the cutscenes to reflect their emotions/situations. My only real complaint, though, is how they made the Ki blasts, mainly the special attack ones. Basically almost every attack in the game, such as Eraser Cannon, Kamehameha, Final Flash, whatever, is the same exact graphic, no variation at all.
There's no excuse for that, really. The Kamehameha is blue, not yellow and they could've taken the time to be creative in making each attack look unique. Although, the rest are either a giant ball of energy or something similar to a large arrow, but either way, those just have color swaps. Lastly, for the landscapes themselves, I liked how they added in interactivity with it, such as you can knock your opponent into buildings/rock structures, which adds to the feel of the series.
Over all, I definitely enjoyed the graphics in the game and they are absolutely amazing for a GBA game, especially coming from DBZ. With updated designs to the characters, animations and such in the form of Fire Emblem style, lush and beautiful landscapes and areas to fight on and amazing backgrounds and cutscenes that will really add to the game, Arc System Works, why weren't you working on DBZ games sooner?
Sound/Music: Damn. God damn. Starting with the music, it's got it's ups and downs, but it's mostly all good. From the opening title screen playing a rather nice version of Cha La Head Cha La down to the game's music during fights, Arc System Works really showed they know what DBZ's all about. Even the ending theme, which is We Were Angels sounds great here, but understand there's no vocals in this for the songs. Other than that, though, some of the battle music seemed kind of...cheerful here and there, but I can't throw that out, since most of the music was battle fitted to fierce fighting and all.
As for the sound effects, again, perfect. From the sound you make when you grapple, throw Ki or shoot your character's signature move, everything is so done so well, it's like they actually made this game using people this time and not Monkeys. What's really cool is the voice acting that's done in this. The entire original cast of people that voiced the characters sports their voices for the game, from the cries of powering up, getting beaten down to shouting the famous ''Kamehameha'', it's all here. A very nice touch to the game and for something that's only a bit better than the SNES, the GBA really does shine this game very brightly.
Over all, a great soundtrack to the game, with 2 tracks from the series and a ton of original music that fits very well, fit in with some very, very nice sound effects that also are from the show and hell, even a full list of voice actors for each character with a ton of sounds for each one. No complaints here and I had the music on the whole time, as it was a blast to hear the fighting and sound effects each and every time, no matter how many times I heard it.
Game Play: Well, like your typical fighting game, it lasts about as long as you want it to, but it doesn't just have a Story Mode and a Versus Mode, no, it has much more. Sporting a Challenge Mode, Z Battle and a few others, you can play a variety of interesting modes for gameplay and fun, all while earning points to unlock new characters, higher forms of characters and even a few other interesting things. Again, the gameplay can get boring pretty fast, but thanks to all the modes of play, well, it'll last you a while, but it's probably best played with a friend.
Though, I will say the fighting and fun in the game is top notch. Not only did they capture the show's fierce fighting style, but they made it actually work. Sporting a pseudo 3D battle system, such as you can move a full 360 degrees around your opponent while fighting them, as well as back off, fly in for an attack, knock them away, launch a special attack and whatever else you can think of that relates to DBZ, the system works. There's rarely any ground fighting in this, as the game does definitely live up to its name, since most combat takes place in the sky.
Not only that, but you are allowed to have up to 3 people on your team at once. Think Marvel VS. Capcom 2, except you can't have them come in and assist you for attacks. Thing is, depending on the mode of play, you may be forced into only having 2 characters, depending on the level of power each character you select is at. Each character has 3 levels. For instance, Level 1 of Vegeta is normal, Level 2 is SSJ Vegeta and Level 3 is Majin Vegeta. So if you pick Level 3, you can only have a Level 1 person join your team, due to the level of power that Level 3 is at, but, some modes allow you to have 3 Level 3 people, so, it's all good. The beauty of this, though, is you can have 3 of the same characters on your team. If you LOVE Piccolo, yes, you can opt to have all 3 characters be Level 1 Piccolos.
Sort of cool, sort of cheap, but hey, it's original I guess. Over all, though, with how long it'll take you to unlock every character and mode in the game, as well as go through every character's story and do it perfectly to see a chance of a secret final fight with them, Bukuu Tougeki definitely in total adds up to possibly be the best DBZ fighting game ever created, even topping Hyper Dimension at this point.
Over All: So, there you have it. I can't stress how great this game turned out and if you're a fan, do yourself a favor and buy it. I'm not sure exactly what the chances of everything being intact are for the US release of it, but even if you get the Japanese version, you'll have very little trouble understanding everything. Even if you aren't a fan of the series, at least check it out and see what you think of the Battle System and how well it does for a GBA game. With a rather unique approach to the story of DBZ, some solid and easy as hell to learn controls, great graphics, sound and music that make the best of the GBA's capabilities, sporting voice acting to boot and gameplay that's on par with the typical fighting game, you really can't go wrong here and if you loved Hyper Dimension, do yourself a favor and grab this game.
Well, if I had to suggest to you either to rent or buy it, I'd say buy it. It's definitely a game you'll enjoy and not regret having spent your money on it. If you were a fool enough to purchase Taiketsu, you can shell out the cash for this, as at least this time, it'll be well worth it. If you aren't a fan, rent it, see what you think of it at least, then decide for yourself I guess. Since Atari didn't make it this time and Banpresto/Arc System Works did, expect top quality gaming here, folks. So, yeah, buy/rent it, play it, enjoy it and I hope my Review helped you in making your final decision on this game.
Final Rate: 10/10.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 04/01/04
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